Hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers sail into the small port of St. John's Harbour each year. Although only capable of holding a maximum of four to five cruise vessels at once, the island has been blessed with a thriving tourism economy and therefore the process of disembarking and getting around has never been simpler for cruise passengers.
Even before the ship has been docked at the port, Antigua welcomes cruisers to her Caribbean shores. Faint strains of steelpan music waft on the breeze and several white sand beaches can be spotted from the observation deck, tempting passengers to add a swim to their planned itinerary.
However, the most prominent aspect of the town which can be witnessed while still onboard is the St. John's Cathedral, whose twin towers majestically looms over the surrounding area from its location on upper Newgate Street.
While the church is currently undergoing reconstruction, its historical value remains priceless and countless visitors walk through the town in search of a better vantage point. Thankfully, the cathedral is situated on an incline which makes capturing a photograph a less tedious task than it otherwise would have been.
After guests have disembarked, a short walk leads either to the modern shopping plaza of Heritage Quay or the quiet historical area of Redcliffe Quay, depending on the berthing position of their ship. Both quays are worth a look, as they significantly differ in appearance and attractions.
For guests wishing to travel on their own, taxi drivers are never hard to find. They're a pretty competitive bunch, so if you play the 'I'll think about it' card, you will most likely be offered a discount on the original price quote. Most drivers already have a package tour to offer, but all are willing to accept customized itineraries. This freedom however, will cost a bit extra.
For cruise ship passengers who prefer to stay a little closer to home, the town of St. John's, has quite a number of attractions, bars and restaurants to keep visitors occupied for a while. Most attractions are free such as the markets, while sites such as the National Museum charges a small fee.
I highly recommend checking in with the information kiosk near to the disembarkation point. A map of the island and nearby shopping areas will be given, and will help to give cruisers a better idea of their surroundings. Happy cruising!