Written by two cruisers on 22 Jul, 2012
Our cruise director told us that by stopping at the United States Virgin Islands first we would be introducing ourselves gradually into the Caribbean. He was right. This island had the worst traffic, very American high speeds and lots of honking. This island also had…Read More
Our cruise director told us that by stopping at the United States Virgin Islands first we would be introducing ourselves gradually into the Caribbean. He was right. This island had the worst traffic, very American high speeds and lots of honking. This island also had US Postal Boxes just like at home, they use US dollar, and speak English (with a charming accent). All of our port visits are similiar on this trip. We debark, acknowledge the colorful greeters, and walk or ride to the main shopping district. There we look for museums, art galleries, local flavor restaurants and souvenirs hopefully of local origin. Many of the other people from our ship bought shore tours ranging from snorkling, to beach picnics, to boat trips to near-by islands, and to adventuresome athletic activities. At this point in our lives, walking to Main street is as adventurous as Bill wants to get. I was very interested in learning the history and culture of each island. Some shore tours hinted at that feature, but Bill was reluctant to commit to the length of those tours. I agreed, figuring the cruise personel would provide a lecture on history and culture to fill my needs. Wrongo...at least not on the Carnival Freedom.So off we went to catch a taxi, which was a van shared with others. We were dropped off near the Post Office in down town Charlotte Amalie. I was impressed to see a large old building painted in coral with limestone trim dating 1571. Wow! We proceeded down the Main Street in search of elusive gift shops and art galleries. All we found were jewelry stores and very persistent salespeople. These folks are agrivating. Finally I let one of them lure me into his shop. I told Bill to sit in the "hubby" chair while I delt with the salesman. That man frantically showed me a large array of gem stones looking for what I would tumble for. I kept a watch on Bill and when he looked rested, I thanked the clerk and left the store. Am I mean? No, the clerk didn't lose any sales by spending time with me. And who knows...I might have found something I like.We saw signs pointing to a cluster of shops on a side street or alley. This was what we were looking for. We visited a wonderful art glass shop and two antique stores. We like the less frantic sales people here they were better about sharing information about the island. Bill found a treasure, a petrified whale ear-bone. I found us a restaurant.Located in one of the oldest buildings still on the island, Gladys' Cafe serves a blend of Caribbean and American cuisine. The walls of the building are made of an assortment of materials, balast stones, bricks, limestone and coral. It was lovely and alive with centuries of use. They are particularly known for their hot sauce. Bill stayed with the American side of the menu by having a bacon cheeseburger. I selected a local special of stewed chicken with sweet potatoes, plantains, fancy rice and macaroni salad. What a taste treat!After lunch we walked along the waterfront, which was dangerously busy with speeding vehicles. We decided to try Main Street again and this time found the home of Camille Pissaro. Going back to Art History 102, I remember this famous artist was born here in the Caribbean, left to study in Paris...and never came back. The museum gallery was not open when we were there. As we headed back to the place the taxi let us out, a driver of a taxi who was cruising Main Street recognized our tired look and hustled us into his vehicle for the ride back to the dock. Apparently this is the normal practice. When you are done shopping, just step to the curb and a cruising taxi will stop for you.When we returned to the ship we walked around the Panorama Deck to enjoy the view of the beautiful harbor, and the lovely volcanic shaped island. Close
Written by figgy0223 on 19 Jan, 2005
This was my second time in St. Thomas, and I fell in love with it all over again. The port of Charlotte Amalie is beautiful, and the island is very clean. There are amazing beaches such as Sapphire and Coki and breathtaking views…Read More
This was my second time in St. Thomas, and I fell in love with it all over again. The port of Charlotte Amalie is beautiful, and the island is very clean. There are amazing beaches such as Sapphire and Coki and breathtaking views from the hills of the island. Shopping in St. Thomas is great, and it, of course, has its fair share of touristy shops. The people are friendly and everyone speaks English. US dollars are accepted everywhere. We were saddened that we didn’t have a longer day in this port. It was a short bus ride to town from the pier. Don’t be hassled by the taxi drivers that tell you to get on their shuttle – it’s not free! They act like they work for the cruise but they don’t. There is a free shuttle that comes by (it says free on the side of it), and the driver does not get off the shuttle to hassle visitors.
The tour with Godfrey was booked at the recommendation of Cruise Critic members. It was a wonderful informational tour for a cheap price. For only $20, you are picked up by a van at the ship, taken to downtown Charlotte Amalie to shop for 2 hours, picked up by an open air trolley, and taken to a variety of stops throughout the island (I hear the stops change based on the weather). Most of them are scenic overlooks of the port of Charlotte Amalie, with amazing picture opportunities. Our guide was very knowledgeable, and we enjoyed the tour very much. We were taken to Sapphire Beach instead of Megan’s Bay because our guide said the rain at Megan’s Bay stirred up the water. There was good snorkeling off the beach at Sapphire, and it was a wonderfully clean and safe place to spend a couple hours. You will stop at an overlook where they make the famous Banana Daiquiri, but I wouldn’t waste your money; it was expensive ($7.50) and I didn’t think it was very tasty. I highly suggest Godfrey Tours. A similar excursion through the ship was twice the price. Also, if you book Godfrey Tours by emailing them, they may not respond to confirm, but don’t worry, they will pick you up. I believe he only accepts cash on the day of the tour.
Written by nancyandjoe on 03 Jul, 2007
Magen's Point Resort is a timeshare offered through RCI. It is located half a mile from Magen's Bay. My husband and I spent an entire week at the resort and were glad that we had enough activities to occupy our time on the…Read More
Magen's Point Resort is a timeshare offered through RCI. It is located half a mile from Magen's Bay. My husband and I spent an entire week at the resort and were glad that we had enough activities to occupy our time on the island to avoid being in our disgusting room. This resort needs to be razed and rebuilt. Upon our arrival, we found the wall-mounted air conditioner turned off in 87-degree heat with 75% humidity. It took over six hours to cool the room down. The air conditioner is located above the bed, causing sleep disturbance because it roars all day and night. The box spring is stained with who knows what, the pillows are less than an inch thick. The smoke detector lay without a battery all week even though we notified the front desk. The tile floors had black mold growing in all areas that weren't high traffic. The drapes had holes in them, the windows were missing screens that allowed bugs in all day because the windows and sliding glass door didn't close tightly. All windows and the living room ceiling leaked when it rained. This was an everyday occurrence because the island gets a daily tropical shower. The shower was corroded by mineral deposits with mold in the grout of the tiles. The railing on the balcony was unsafe due to the bolts securing the railing to the building being mounted to a rotten board. The unit next to us had part of the outer wall missing revealing studs and the back of the shower. 50% of the towels and definitely the sheets were stained.The only pretty part of this resort is the pool. This is because the restaurant serves at poolside. However the lights in the pool for night time illumination don't work. The restaurant food is delicious when they don't run out and they won't take reservations past 8pm. The hot tub heats the water well, but the aerator has been broken for over three years. Construction on the site was started over five years ago and not touched for three years. Half of the parking lot is dirt. Over 30 cats roam the resort. These cats are fed and maintained by the resort and all are spayed. But they are all flea-ridden. On the first day, we attended an orientation and halfway through our orange juice they told us it was spiked with rum. No sign warned us of this. This is a concern to us because of personal preference and beliefs regarding alcohol consumption. Plus dangerous to others who are on medications that could interact with alcohol. When approached regarding this issue, management simply said " you're in St. Thomas, everything is spiked with rum". BUYER BEWARE!! Close
Written by ripplefan2 on 11 Jun, 2007
Talk about tranquility only a stone’s throw away from the continental USA. If you have a long weekend, I would highly recommend a journey down to USVI or BVI. I have made my residency on St. Thomas in the USVI more times then I can…Read More
Talk about tranquility only a stone’s throw away from the continental USA. If you have a long weekend, I would highly recommend a journey down to USVI or BVI. I have made my residency on St. Thomas in the USVI more times then I can remember, heading there for family vacations, my brother’s destination wedding or just for my week away from the world. I would not really recommend the island of St. Croix, mainly because it is not so tourist friendly and it’s a bit out of the way. I would suggest that you hit up the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. If you are looking for that stamp in your passport, Tortola is a beautiful island not even a two hour ride from St. John. On St. Thomas, there are many places to stay, but even with it being an island, a hotel on the beach can be a rare find. I would recommend the Sapphire Beach resort near the center of town. Talk about lush and private. If you are looking to escape the world, sit on the beach, read a book, maybe go for a snorkel and have a drink after, Sapphire Beach is definitely the place to go to. Some of the best snorkeling spots on St. Thomas are located around that beach front. The water is always crystal clear and the sea turtles come out in full force in the early morning times when the sun is just rising. If you catch them at the right time, when they are heading up for air, you can grab their shells and go for a ride. It’s a real experience. But be careful of the surrounding groups of fish. There is a neighborhood sucker fish that damn near looks like a shark, but trust me, it's not. I was warned by the local woman selling snorkel gear that this fish was out there and I told myself that I wouldn’t be scared when and if I saw it. But when I saw him while floating around, I damn near jumped out of my skin. I have never run out of the water so fast, I felt like I was running on top of the water to get out of there. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best idea in the world because if it had been a shark, I would have not been able to write this journal today. If you are there during the winter time, be careful of the jellyfish. During the wintertime, the jellyfish are brought up by the changing tides and tropic storms and are out in full force. I was swimming around following a group of clown fish (damn Finding Nemo) and I swam right into a school of jellyfish. But not big ones, just babies, but a full school of them. After being bombarded by the electric shocks with tinges of pain, I decided that I should vacate the water ASAP to avoid throwing up all over the place. Those shocks can make you so nauseous and weak that if you don’t get out soon, you could pass out. So beware. However, don’t let that scare or worry you to not go snorkeling, because it is so worth it. Seeing stingrays and a rainbow spectrum of fish and of course turtles. It really is a sight.After a day of sunning, swimming, and basically doing nothing all day, a night of strong, fun drinks are definitely called for. Duffy’s Love Shack promises everything the name offers. It is literally a shack, based right in the middle of a parking lot across from the ferry to St. John in Red Hook, and with a tiki-torch-surrounded-hut feeling and strong drinks that can help produce love with anything you see. If you have the liver for it (and cab fare home) I would suggest the Fish Tank. I have no idea what’s in it but I think I finished one at some point (I never remember finishing those because of their strength) and I enjoyed it.If you feel like leaving the beach for some reason during the day, you should try hitting up Charlotte Amalia on the other side of the island. This is a great area for the seasoned shopper. There are nothing but outdoor flea markets, high end boutiques, local stores, and St. Thomas culture around every turn. But bring your bargaining skills, because these vendors are slick and will take you for everything that you have. Tourism is their business, don’t forget that. After a day of shopping, dinner is most likely the only thing on your mind. So, head back to Red Hook and try out Off The Hook. And it is just that. Phenomenal food at very affordable prices. And again, the location can’t be beat; right next to the ferry and across the street from Duffy”s. So, have a bite, cross the street, grab some drinks, then catch the ferry back to St. John or a cab back to Sapphire Beach.I hope that St. Thomas treats you in the same friendly manner that it has for me and my family and friends. And, if you haven’t already, please make St. Thomas a goal for your future destinations. Enjoy! Close
Written by amjohnson on 23 Sep, 2005
We took a day trip from St. Thomas to St. John. We took a cab from our hotel and got on a ferry boat that runs between the two islands. It runs about once an hour all day, so you can go and…Read More
We took a day trip from St. Thomas to St. John. We took a cab from our hotel and got on a ferry boat that runs between the two islands. It runs about once an hour all day, so you can go and come at whatever time you chose. The cost of the round-trip was only about $6 per person. The boat ride was nice and relaxing and took about 30 minutes. The boat had two levels, and we sat on the top for a better view and some sun. The boat was really smooth, and no one had problems with getting seasick.
When we arrived at St. John, we looked around at the shops and got some lunch at a place really close to where the boat docked. Then we all decided to rent Jeeps to see the island. That was about the only option without going on a tour. We wanted to look at our own pace, so we rented jeeps and took off. We actually made a large circle around the island that last about 2 to 3 hours. We stopped in several places and looked at the different beaches and different sights and took pictures.
St. John is a great place for a day trip, but I don’t think I would want to send an entire vacation there. It did not offer as many resorts or restaurants as the island of St. Thomas, and there is no airport on St. John, so you would have to boat from St. Thomas to get there.
Written by tomcat3791 on 08 Nov, 2004
Our week at Tropic Leisure Club began less than auspiciously, but in the end, it turned out to be one of the best weeks we have spent travelling.
We arrived on St. Thomas, in transit to St. Croix, for two days. Knowing we were to stay…Read More
Our week at Tropic Leisure Club began less than auspiciously, but in the end, it turned out to be one of the best weeks we have spent travelling.
We arrived on St. Thomas, in transit to St. Croix, for two days. Knowing we were to stay at this resort later in the week, we took the few hours between plane arrival and Fast Ferry to St. Croix and visited the resort to inspect our room. This property was a timeshare trade, and I was concerned about quality after reading some negative reviews online. Thankfully, our unit was clean and secure. We left for St. Croix, confident that we could comfortably return to St. Thomas and have a good stay.
Unfortunately, our assigned unit was rented on a short term (two-day) rental while we were on St. Croix. Housekeeping seems to be spotty at the resort, because the unit had not been cleaned, and despite waiting four hours beyond check-in time, our unit never did get cleaned. The front desk staff was kind enough to give us fresh sheets and towels. We changed our own linens, prepped our own unit, and went to bed annoyed. It would have been worse if the kitchen had been used, but fortunately, that was not the case.
The next day was beautiful. Our unit faced Magen's Bay, with a nice veranda. The sun streaming in the patio windows made the previous day's frustrations melt away. We walked around the property for a bit, when I was suddenly approached by a petite woman who identified herself as the owner's wife and apologised for the housekeeping mistake the day before. Big points -- I appreciated the honesty, and as we got to know her better over the next few days, I got a unique perspective on the trials of running an island property.
The property is in decent overall condition, clean but showing age. Not really upscale, but a good value for the price. The pool was clean and well-tended. The waterfall ran erratically, and the hot tub was inoperable, with seemingly no plans for repair. Pool chairs were intact (I hate broken chairs at resorts!), and the view to Magen's Bay was fantastic. Some landscaping was scraggly, and there is construction planned which may detract from the overall atmosphere. We did not see any construction activity during our stay, but the footprint of new construction was obvious. The poolside bar was very nice, with good, friendly staff and reasonable drink prices. The restaurant, run poolside and at bar tables, was EXCELLENT. Called Indigo, the restaurant is run by a husband-and-wife team. I have written it up separately to provide more detail.
Our studio unit had a basic mini-kitchen setup (cooktop, no stove). Some supplies were missing, but nothing significant. We requested a couple of the missing items, and they were delivered the next day. The bed was comfortable, and the sofa unit was fine, but not inviting. The bathroom was small and clean, and the comfortable walk-in shower was perfect for after the beach. This is the closest large property to Magen's Bay beach. A shuttle service runs, but not too often (a single van makes multiple runs to various destinations).
Clientele during our visit tended toward Middle America-type families and middle-aged-to-older couples. The on-site hospitality coordinator (Barbara, but you can call her "Barbie".... really!) was very sweet and truly enjoyed her work. She led many group excursions that the other guests seemed to entirely enjoy (we did not attend, having been to the island before). Everyone we talked to thought she was a definite asset to the property. The other management staff were also friendly and efficient. It's a well-run property -- the only rough spots seem to be the housekeeping/maintenance staff and the property wear-and-tear.
Overall, we liked this property for its good value and excellent location, close to the parts of the island we enjoy most. We will stay here again.
Written by Suzie1969 on 22 Oct, 2005
We arrived in St. Thomas with much anticipation. The airstrip is right over the water--what a sight!There are no covered arrival gates, so you deplane on the tarmac, just like in the good old days. We went to get our rental vehicle from Avis with no problem.…Read More
We arrived in St. Thomas with much anticipation. The airstrip is right over the water--what a sight!There are no covered arrival gates, so you deplane on the tarmac, just like in the good old days. We went to get our rental vehicle from Avis with no problem. Our economy vehicle was just like back home, but you drive on the opposite side of the road. It is easy to master once you get used to it. Most of the roads are only two-lane and can get very congested. Be patient!
On our way to the Wyndham Sugarbay, we passed through downtown Charlotte Amalie, which is very quaint and beautiful. It is a harbor town where you can look across the bay to see the cruise ships, sometimes five or six at a time. Havensight Mall has duty-free shopping in the cruise-ship docking area. We followed the directions we were given for about 12 miles, up and down mountains. We finally found it and drove up the hill to the resort entrance. We were met by a very happy fellow who assisted us with our bags. There is no valet parking (see my accommodations section for more details).
The young lady who checked us in was great--she asked if we wanted the all-inclusive for $75 each a day, but we opted not to and were glad we didn't. After we settled into our rooms, we took off to explore and have a little lunch. We decided just to stay at the resort and have a bite by the pool. we went down the 99 steps (really isn't that bad) to the Mangrove restaurant. Well, we weren't all-inclusive, so the cook behind the grill told us to go see the manager. The female manager was sitting at a table folding napkins and yelling at one of her wait staff taking a phone order. After she finished, we told her what we wanted. She wrote down our room number, handed us a receipt, and told us to tell the guy at the grill what we wanted. You had a choice of hot dogs, chicken, or hamburgers, which came with one drink and chips and condiments--for $25, not worth it at all. We then went back for dinner that evening. It was okay, but nothing to rave about. The next morning we went to the Manor House at the main hotel for brunch. The waitstaff there was terrible. They acted as if you were inconveniencing them by asking for water. There was a woman at the omelette station yelling at everyone as she was giving directions and being rude. You could see all the staff just leaning against the pillars talking about who knows what--no class and very ill-mannered.
After that experience, we did have the breakfast there, but lunches and dinners were out on the island, and we ate at a very good place in particular right on the bay that served lobster, from 1 pound to 8 pounds--whatever you liked. It is called Mim's and is worth a try, with great food and ambience.
One thing to be aware of: If you are like me and are prone to mosquito bites, take plenty of insect repellent. We took a snorkel and sightseeing tour of St. John at about $100 per person. They pick you up right at the hotel lobby. We took the ferry from Red Hook, which is a short drive down the mountain from the resort. If you don't care to do the tour, you can take a taxi to Red Hook and take the ferry, which runs about $6 round-trip. It is about a 15-minute ride across the bay. If you are like me and prone to mosquito bites, take plenty of insect repellent. You will need it, especially if you go to St. John and Trunk Bay. It practically ruined my vacation, but I didn't let it. Fortunately I was prepared, but if you forget or run out, they have a K-Mart and Sears. And on St. Thomas it's just like home, with Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's.
All in all, we loved St. Thomas. We snorkeled at Magen's Bay. It is a state park, and they charge you about $3 per car. There is a snack bar there that serves salad, hot dogs, and pizza. You can also rent gear there. They had the biggest iguana I had ever seen. It must have been at least 3 feet long and older than dirt. They are protected, so don't feed them and don't touch! Coki Beach is a nice little spot with no charge, but there is an aquarium and the charge was minimal. All of St. Thomas is a water-sports mecca. We will, however, not be returning to the Wyndham Sugar Bay.
Written by ericcarlallen on 26 Feb, 2005
We booked Harmony Suite on the island of St. Thomas from 2/12/05 thru 2/19/05 based on the photos shown on the website (www.harmonysuite.com). What a pleasant surprise to discover the place was actually as good as, if not better than, depicted. The roomy suite is…Read More
We booked Harmony Suite on the island of St. Thomas from 2/12/05 thru 2/19/05 based on the photos shown on the website (www.harmonysuite.com). What a pleasant surprise to discover the place was actually as good as, if not better than, depicted. The roomy suite is tastefully done in island decor and very adequate for two. There is a full kitchen, living room, extra large shower, and a bedroom with walls carved out of the natural rock and an impressive mural. There is a deck with a breathtaking view of Mandahl Point and Hans Lollick Island. There is also a hot tub on the deck where two can relax under the starlit night sky. Just up the stairs on another part of the property, there is a built-in pool with a large deck area and a hammock, all with the same view. The owners, Tom and Monica, supply a breakfast each day of fresh fruit, pastries, and coffee. They are happy to suggest places to see and where to have a great dining experience. As an added touch, Tom takes a very nice digital photo at the end of the stay to add to your memories. Close
Written by mfolk on 04 Nov, 2004
For that elegant dinner, the Banana Tree Grill (776-4050) overlooks the town and the cruise ship harbor. Reserve a sunset view to watch the ships leave port. For a much better quality of food and service at about the same price with the…Read More
For that elegant dinner, the Banana Tree Grill (776-4050) overlooks the town and the cruise ship harbor. Reserve a sunset view to watch the ships leave port. For a much better quality of food and service at about the same price with the same type of view, there’s Herve’s (777-9703). We were planning on dining at Mafolie’s, which is another one of the fancy, view-of-the harbor restaurants, but several different locals warned us to stay away unless we liked poor food and service. If you only have one evening and can skip the view, Craig and Sally’s in Frenchtown is your best bet. The menu changes daily and is beyond great. Our party of four wanted to each order two or three entrées from the enticing menu.
While shopping downtown, you can have lunch at Cuzzin’s on Back Street if you enjoy local West Indian food. It is THE place for conch on the island. For my money, Glady’s Café in the Royal Dane Mall offers the same style food and is a lot more fun. Her hot sauce burns all the way down, and the staff is as wonderful as the food.
For a fun lunch or dinner out by Coki Beach, there’s Fungi’s on the Beach, where the motto is "Reggae Always," and the Caribbean-style menu works well as you sit over the water across the bay from Coral World. In downtown don’t miss The Green House next door to the Hard Rock Café. The two-for-one happy hour provides more alcohol then many bars serve in a dozen drinks, and the discounted appetizers make a great early dinner. Our group rated their calamari the best on the island. It is lightly breaded, cooked perfectly, and very fresh. The T-shirts offered were also rated as the best walking advertisement by our group.
If you miss that traditional American breakfast, Hook, Line and Sinker in Frenchtown provides eggs done everyway imaginable during the Sunday brunch, or you can get your eggs, hash browns, toast, and coffee at the Petite Pump Room located on the second floor of the downtown Ferry Terminal. This is one of the few places on the island where you can actually find adequate parking.
On the north side of the island, Indigo’s at the Megan’s Bay Resort is slowly being discovered as one of the jewels of the island cuisine. We caught the staff of Craig and Sally’s eating there one evening! The menu is somewhat limited, but they have several specials every meal that are so good you may not even get to the standard fare. A notch below Indigo’s in price and style is The Hideaway at Hull Bay. Take the turn to Drake’s Seat and just keep on going downhill. The less adventurous will be tempted to turn back as the road gets worse and more remote, but the trip is worth it. As you enter, you will pass the kitchen area, and as you leave, you will be amazed that food this good and inexpensive can come from what is basically a skillet over a stove burner. The enchiladas are a wonderful blend of Mexican and West Indies creole food. The seafood is fresh, and while simply prepared, we thought it was some of the best seafood we had in the two weeks on the island. They also have a grill that prepares excellent jerk pork and beef dishes. Sample all the rest, and then plan on returning time and time again to Craig and Sally’s, Indigo’s, and the Hideaway at Hull Bay.
Written by Bruce on 13 Apr, 2001
The oldest Building in The Royal Dane Mall was built around 1831 and was used as a trading area You enter the mall from the streets into narrow alleyways, which at first suggest you are entering and area that ought to be avoided.…Read More
The oldest Building in The Royal Dane Mall was built around 1831 and was used as a trading area You enter the mall from the streets into narrow alleyways, which at first suggest you are entering and area that ought to be avoided. Soon, however you discover an area peaceful and serene, and costly! This is where you will find the Antique dealers and art galleries, the higher end dealers and galleries that is. Even though we didn't buy anything here it is well worth investigating just for the atmosphere of this place.
Included a few photos, hope they help someone. Close