St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands
Where You're Docked
Your ship will dock at Havensight, the primary dock for cruise ships, or Crown Bay, during particularly busy (i.e. winter) times. If more than six ships call on St. Thomas in one day, your ship may be anchored in the harbor and tenders will drop you in the heart of Charlotte Amalie.
Where to Eat and Drink
Casual, in-town joints: Cuzzin's Caribbean for regional fare. Cafe Amici (Dronnigens Gade) serves Mediterranean cuisine with local influences; the grilled tuna sandwich and salad nicoise are highlights. Gladys' (Royal Dane Mall) offers West Indian cuisine such as conch and fungi and mutton stew along with more traditional items. The rollicking Greenhouse Bar & Restaurant for basic burgers and frozen drinks.
Gourmet In-Town Lunching: If Virgilio's (Dronnigen's Gade), a fabulous Italian restaurant with eccentric decor, stone, and Pepto Bismol-pink painted walls has the paprika ravioli on the menu, order it. On Government Hill, Marisol is St. Thomas' newest hot-spot; ask for a table on the terrace overlooking the harbor. Next door is Herve Restaurant & Wine Bar. In Frenchtown, a quirky neighborhood settled by St. Bart's refugees in the 19th century, Craig & Sally's (22 Honduras) is arguably the island's best restaurant; great wine list and menu changes daily based on chef's whim and what's fresh.
What to See and Do
A walking tour of Charlotte Amalie should include a visit to Fort Christian (on the waterfront, across from Vendor's Plaza), a national historic landmark that dates back to the 17th century; you can climb the tower for great harbor views. Climb the 99 Steps (Kongens Gade/Government Hill, next to Hotel 1829)--actually there are 103--to experience historic downtown's finest neighborhood with lovely 19th-century plantation homes. Adjacent to the steps is a worthy pit stop: Haagensen House, an 1820's townhouse that's a museum and garden with a great gift shop selling antiques.
Coral World is one of those well-hyped tourist attractions that actually lives up to expectations. Located at Coki Beach (cab ride required), it's a 4 1/2-acre marine park whose highlight is an underwater observatory with 360-degree views of fish and other sea creatures--the only way to see fish without getting wet.For a great island view, take the Paradise Point Tramway, across from Havensight. It climbs 700 feet to Paradise Point (there's a little shopping area with the obvious tourist trinkets at the apex).
Taxis: Individual "cabs" are highly unusual. In most cases, you'll be shepherded to a van or safari truck that's heading in the vicinity of your destination--and may make multiple stops on the way. You pay a set price per person; Havensight to town, for instance, is a flat $3 each way. Tipping is recommended when a driver is particularly helpful or garrulous but not required.
Renting a Car: At Havensight, Budget has an outpost; advance reservations are highly recommended and cost starts at $62 a day. From Crown Bay, the nearest car rental offices are at the airport (a five-minute taxi ride); Hertz, Avis, and Budget have desks there and cost starts at $3205 a day.
Bargain hunters walk up Long Bay Boulevard to the Lockhart Gardens K-Mart, which has the area's best prices on rum. On the way, a don't-miss hint: in the parking lot of the Pueblo supermarket, look for a green canvas umbrella where Dominican-transplant Martha Jolly sells gorgeous wicker stuff--at remarkably modest prices. Highlights include a coconut shell-shaped handbag ($1205) and laundry hampers ($2050 - $100 depending on size). She also sells gorgeous tropical flowers, from birds of paradise to Ginger lily.
Passengers whose ships are docked in Crown Bay have more limited options. Within walkable distance is Frank's Bake Shop (23 Subbase), a charming spot for gourmet coffee and pastries. The Crown Bay Marina has a branch of Gourmet Gallery. Tickles is a charming waterside pub at the marina with a nautical decor.
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