St. Thomas, is one of three United States Virgin Islands (USVI), along with St. John and St. Croix.
Charlotte Amalie is the capital of St. Thomas and is known for its beaches, resort hotels, water sport activities, near perfect weather and duty free shopping. It is considered the shopping capital of the Caribbean by many cruise enthusiasts.
St. Thomas’ proximity to several embarkation ports and two cruise docks make it a very popular port of call. Charlotte Amalie can be found on many, if not all, Eastern Caribbean itineraries.
For cruises with an embarkation port in Florida, St. Thomas is sometimes a port of call on Panama Canal and Southern Caribbean itineraries.
Primary Language Spoken: English
Currency: US Dollar
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock in St. Thomas?
There are two docks for cruise ships in St. Thomas – Havensight Pier and Crown Bay.
Both are located on the south side of the island – Havensight is on the east side, Crown Bay is located on the west side – and it’s about a 5 to 10 minute taxi ride to Charlotte Amalie from both docks.
Because of the two docks, it’s fairly common to see up to 20,000 cruise passengers visiting a day.
Havensight is the larger of the two docks and has Havensight Mall – a great place to take the kids for souvenirs or a quick snack before re-boarding. There are over 60 shops, restaurants and cafes at Havensight Mall – many of which are outposts of stores found in Charlotte Amalie.
Crown Bay is not as built up as Havensight but there is a shopping center beside it which includes a small gourmet supermarket and several restaurants.
READ MORE: 14 Must-Pack Essentials for Every Cruise Vacation with Kids
Getting Around St. Thomas
Taxi – There is no shortage of taxis at either cruise dock. For cruisers traveling with young children that require a car seat or booster seat however, we recommend bringing your own or booking an excursion/tour in advance with a taxi company that has car seats and booster seats. Rates for taxis are not metered and are priced per person per destination.
Taxi Vans and Open Air Safaris – If you have a large travel group, an economical way to see the island is with a taxi van or open air safari tour. These converted truck beds offer open-air seating for up to 25 people (taxi vans can hold approximately 8 to 12 people, open air safaris have room for up to 25). These types of tours visit multiple attractions and points of interest, giving you a good overview of St. Thomas.
Ferry – There are two ferry terminals – Red Hook and Cruz Bay – for guests wanting to spend the day in St. John – a neighboring US Virgin Island. For cruise guests who are spending part of their day at Frenchman’s Reef Resort, there is also a ferry that runs between the resort and Charlotte Amalie several times a day.
Car – Renting a car is a great way to explore St. Thomas at your own pace – especially for large groups or families. Car rental rates range from $55 to $95/day depending on vehicle size and time of year. There are several car rental offices located near both cruise docks. You can also arrange to have a rental car waiting for you at the dock ahead of time. Some rental agencies offer special rental packages for cruise passengers.
Walking – Walking to Charlotte Amalie or any other attraction from either dock is not feasible – you will need a vehicle to get to them. However once you get to Charlotte Amalie, walking is a good way to explore the historic parts of the capital.
Bus – Public buses run between 5:15 AM to 8 PM daily however waits can be extremely long and is not recommended for those with limited time on the island. A bus ride within Charlotte Amalie costs $0.75 and a ride anywhere else on the island is $1.
Kid Friendly Beaches in St. Thomas
Magens Bay – Magens Bay Park offers a one-mile stretch of white-sand beach and calm waters perfect for swimming or lazing on a kayak. The beach is crowded on days when several cruise ships are in port, but a short walk from the concession area yields ample space if you arrive before midday. There are bathrooms and changing rooms, and a bar and grill in the concession area. There is a small fee for beach access.
Lindquist Beach – Known for its captivating views, Lindquist Beach at Smith Bay is part of the 21-acre protected Smith Bay Park. The beach offers great swimming and easy to reach tidal pools that show off the marine wildlife. A lifeguard is on duty here, and there are ample picnic tables and bathrooms making it a great and quiet place for a family outing.
Sapphire Beach – When multiple ships are in port, beaches in St. Thomas can get crowded very quickly. Sapphire Beach is a bit further from the cruise terminal so there’s a higher chance you’ll be able to start your beach day later in the day after a few sightseeing activities. Rent snorkel gear, kayaks, and chairs at the local water sports booth. Food and drinks are available at the open-air grill, and bathrooms are available.
Coki Beach – Located next to Coral World, this is a great option for families who want a bit of sightseeing and time at the beach. The beach can get crowded when multiple ships are in port, so plan to arrive early. It’s an excellent choice for snorkeling, with an abundance of tropical fish that can be seen even in the shallow water.
Read More: Best Water Shoes for Toddlers and Kids
What to Do with Kids in St. Thomas, USVI
There are countless kid-friendly activities and attractions in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. Because of the limited time you have in port, here are four popular attractions and activities that the entire family will enjoy:
Coral World Ocean Park – The 5-acre Coral World Ocean Park is home to aquariums and outdoor marine pools and is a very popular destination for families with young children. Visitors can pet a shark, feed stingrays, get up-close with the sea lions, or watch marine life from a 360-degree Undersea Observatory. Recommended length of visit – 2 to 3 hours
Paradise Point – The Skyride aerial tram at Paradise Point is walking distance from Havensight pier. It offers panoramic views of Charlotte Amalie, Water Island, and Puerto Rico from its overlook. Watch the cruise ships arrive and leave the port or visit the restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops once you get to the top. Locals recommend heading there in the late afternoon for amazing sunset views. Recommended length of visit – 1 to 3 hours
Magic Ice – Located along the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie, is the largest permanent ice gallery in the world – Magic Ice. Constructed entirely of ice, exhibits range from furniture, sculptures, a slide and an ice bar. It’s a surprising and unique find – especially in the Caribbean. Recommended length of visit – 30 minutes to 1 hour
Blackbeard’s Castle – A 17th century lookout tower known as Blackbeard’s Castle can be found in Charlotte Amalie in Skytsborg Historical Park. History buffs will enjoy meeting Blackbeard the Pirate and learning more about the history of St. Thomas. Enjoy the view from the top of the tower and remember to bring your swimsuits if you want to take a dip in the magnificent pool while you’re there (change rooms are available). Recommended length of visit – 1 to 2 hours
Where to Get Free WiFi in St. Thomas
There are several restaurants and cafes at both Havensight and Crown Bay that offer free WiFi for paying customers.
There is also free WiFi for cruise passengers visiting Paradise Point.
Read More About Caribbean Cruises with Kids:
- Best Water Shoes for Toddlers and Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – Port Canaveral with Kids
- Cruise Port Guide – St. Maarten / St. Martin with Kids
- Which Caribbean Itinerary is Best – Eastern, Western or Southern?