5 First Impressions of St. Thomas

Pulling into Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
Pulling into Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

According to Wikipedia, a ‘first impression’ is “the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person.” But, first impressions aren’t just for people; they can be for places too.

Do you remember your first impression of your cruise ship? Or the first port you stopped at? Do you remember you first impression of your now favorite cruise port? Or your least favorite one?

On my very first cruise, we called at St. Thomas for our second port. Located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s extremely popular with cruisers for duty-free shopping and spectacular sites. Looking back on that cruise now, I can still remember my first impressions of St. Thomas and I wanted to share them with you. Here are my top 5 first impressions:

1. Spectacular View. Sailing into the harbor of Charlotte Amalie, I couldn’t believe the views. The boats swaying in the harbor, the rolling mountains and the quaint town sitting on the waterfront – all of it postcard perfect. And one of the best parts of the view? It doesn’t ever stop on the island. The drive around is scenic with lookouts to check out the best views. As you head to the Northside of the island, the view of Magen’s Bay (one of the most beautiful beaches in the world) is simply stunning.  If you think the daytime views are spectacular, hopefully you’ll get the chance to see it in the evening all lit up and sparkling. You’ll never forget the first time you laid eyes on St. Thomas.

2. Lots of Tour Options.  As one of the most popular ports in the Caribbean, St. Thomas truly offers something for everyone. On my first visit, I was overwhelmed with all of the options: history, water sports, beach time, even a sky ride. We chose an adventurous snorkeling tour on our first trip there and even now, we still look for the Castaway Girl on our visits to the island. Because there are so many choices, you can plan ahead and research all the options or you can wait until you’re in the cruise terminal to make your choice. There’s enough variety that you could visit often and still find something new to do every time. You could also check out this list of St. Thomas shore excursions from Shore Excursions Group.

3. Cell Phone Service. I couldn’t help but notice fellow passengers on their cell phones the minute we walked off the ship in St. Thomas. At first, I assumed they were paying the international roaming rates, until I realized an important fact. Since St. Thomas is a U.S. Territory, it means you can use your US-based cell phone without those crazy, international roaming charges. While you need to check with your specific carrier for all the details, most US cell phone companies handle texting, data and in most cases, calls as part of your domestic plan. So, go ahead and text home to gloat just a little bit about your day in St. Thomas.

4. Expensive. One of the downsides of island life – lots of things are imported (like food, gasoline, etc.). Imported items tend to cost consumers more money. So, if you’re looking for a local meal or bar, plan to pay a little more than you’d normally expect in a Caribbean port. I paid almost $4 for a bottle of water during my first walk through the streets of Charlotte Amalie. Lunch for two of us was almost $50 for one round of drinks and some appetizers. Plan ahead here and you can save yourself some sticker shock – bring a water bottle with you and plan on eating lunch onboard your ship.

5. Accepts US Dollars. Another way being a U.S. Territory benefits you – no worries about currency conversion. The accepted currency of St. Thomas is the US Dollar. I loved how everything was labeled in dollars everywhere we went on the island. I didn’t have to do any math in my head (or on my phone’s calculator) or ask how much something was. I didn’t have to worry about ending up with foreign currency to change out later.

What was your first impression of St. Thomas? If you haven’t been there yet, what are you expectations for this popular port? We’d love to hear from you!

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