St. Thomas is one of the world’s most heavily trafficked cruise ports. Its lofty popularity is earned because St. Thomas offers something for just about everyone, and it’s an island that can accommodate a huge, daily population influx. Plus, its duty-free shopping scene is relatively unparalleled. Other on-the-beaten-track sites include the world-famous beach at Magens Bay and a scenic tram ride to a mountaintop.
But it’s also amazingly easy to find some respite from the inevitable crowds by exploring St. Thomas’ quieter, more undiscovered side — a lovely historic district, trips to Water Island (the fourth, and youngest, Virgin Island), north shore beaches and fabulous restaurants in Frenchtown; it is also an easy jaunt via 20-minute ferry to tranquil St. John. Even Red Hook, which is traditionally thought of as nothing more than the jumping-off point for the far more stunning St. John, has local character (you’ll see residents of St. Thomas engaged in everyday activities) that’s a far cry from Charlotte Amalie’s shopping mall vibe. Just taking local transportation to the eastern end of the island will give you a modicum of emotional distance from the hectic pier.
Virtually every ship sailing an Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes St. Thomas as a port of call as do many Southern Caribbean voyages. You’ll even see St. Thomas on Panama Canal and South American itineraries (when a Florida port such as Ft. Lauderdale or Miami serves as a port of embarkation or debarkation). It is not uncommon, particularly during the Caribbean’s winter high season, to see six or more ships docked and/or anchored in a day — and that can mean an extra 20,000 people infused into a population hovering in the mid-50,000′s.
View of Water Island highlighting BBK land