Destination Talk #2 – St Thomas

Hello! It’s Jordan again. For this weeks Destination Talk, I thought I would discuss St Thomas. I have to admit, St Thomas wasn’t my favourite port of call when I went on Oasis of the Seas in January 2010, but it is very unique. I loved the relaxed vibe and tranquility of the Island. This post will tell you a little more about the pros and cons of the port of call, as well as what I recommend you seeing, plus an overview of the history of St Thomas.

Information and History…

Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the U.S.V.I. It is one of the premier cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean and sees 1.5 million cruise passengers a year.

In November 1493, Cristoforo Colombo and his fleet came upon the island. As it was throughout much of the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands were inhabited by the Carib and Arawak Indians. Over the next two centuries the Indians would be wiped out by modern European weapons, ancient European disease and man’s timeless lust for gold that condemned the easily subdued indigenous Caribbean tribes to a life of forced labour. In the late 1600’s the Danish West India Company took control of largely uninhabited St Thomas, with the plan to develop large plantations. Convicts from Denmark were originally going to be used for labour, however it failed miserably. Free Danish settlers soon arrived, those that survived the voyage, only to witness the majority of their fellow settlers die the next few days after. In the 1670’s, it was decided that the only alternative to working the plantations was the importation of African slaves. The town that would grow along the waterfront would soon be named after Queen Charlotte Amalie, the wife of Denmark’s King Christian V.

Charlotte Amalie became a thriving town through the help of sugar exports, pirates, inter island trade and a growing slave market. Other islands continued with their plantations, however St Thomas developed into a commercial center. In the 1800’s, Charlotte Amalie became an important coaling station to serve the growing number of steamships.

As the First World War was looming, the US negotiated buying the Virgin Islands from Denmark. The United States soon brought the Islands for $25 million. That works out at just $300 an acre.

Top Things to see…

Fort Christian was built by the Danes in 1666, it guards the narrow harbour entrance and is one of the oldest buildings in St Thomas. The St Thomas Skyride is a great way to take in the views. The cable car takes visitors up to Paradise Point, 700 feet above the town and harbour. I never went on this, as we booked an excursion for a tour around the Island. I would have loved to have gone on it, as looking at some of the pictures and videos taken by other tourists, it looks superb! A highly recommended spot to visit is Magens Bay. It is constantly rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world.  It is the other side of the port, so a taxi would be necessary. The drive alone is worth the trip as you take in great scenery and local culture.  It is WELL worth the visit!

Good and Bad Points…

Good

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Cultural
  • Interesting shopping areas

 

Bad

  • Steeper roads the further out you get
  • Unusual taxis!

 

I had a fantastic time in St Thomas. I would recommend you taking a cruise excursion for this port of call as a lot of the sights and scenery are located some distance away from the dock. The port is excellent for those who want to shop. The port has its own duty-free market and the dock is very close to the main shopping street.

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Mike Faust

Mike Faust is an avid world traveler, often found traversing city streets in Asia and Europe rather than his home city of Boca Raton. Mike has touched down in 39 countries, set sail on 35 cruises, and flown over 400,000 lifetime miles.