Hello, I have a question. Many of these shore excursions have a comment that after your tour is done you end up in a shopping area, but you must find your own way back to the ship. Our question is how safe is this and how far are these shopping areas from the ship and are the taxi drivers and car safe???
We are just sure about all of this.
They say that because in St Thomas, the "shopping area" is in the port facilities. There is about a 1/4 mile of shopping (much like an outdoor mall) next to the ship. If you walk all the way down to the end of the shopping area you find the entrance to the port. You can also find taxis and such there. So after your tour, the bus will drop you at the entrance, you show you ship card and then walk to the ship. Its fairly safe since most of the people are passengers.
Also, most of the stores in this area are repeats of the stores in the downtown shopping district. Many people prefer to shop downtown for the ambiance.
The Havensight Mall at the pier is where we do any shopping we might want to do. As Jim said, the same stores are at Havensight as there are downtown. It is easier since you are literally just a few steps from the ship (well, maybe a football field away).
However, if you go downtown to the main shopping area in Charlotte Amalie it is quite safe, as are the drivers and taxis. This is the well-beaten path. Just make sure you are clear on the price before getting in the cab. Also note that traffic in the Virgin Islands drives on the left side and it is very congested so be careful crossing streets.
Thanks for your quick response. We are leaving on Dec. 7th from San Juan on the Caribbean Princess for 7 nights. My wife is going nuts trying to pick the right shore excursion. We are not beach or water people, but love seeing the beautiful landscrape and of course shopping, so I know you guys are very knowageable, so what would you recommend???
Thanks again for your wonderful help.
If you are not beach and water people, then my suggestion would be to ignore the ship excursions. Go to the port/terminal entrance and barter with a cab operator to get a tour of the Island. You should be able to get someone to drive you around and show you the sights fairly cheaply. (less than the ships tours.) Just make sure you don't pay them (or fully pay them) until they return you to the ship.
I can't really recommend anything in particular since we always do the snorkeling thing (Trunk Bay) I'm sure there are some plantation tours or something that might be interesting. Elsewise just have a taxi take you to the downtown shopping district.
One choice where the ship's tour is a good idea is to go to St. John for the island tour. St. John is less crowded and prettier than St. Thomas.
Otherwise, taking the "50 cent tour" of St. Thomas with a taxi is a good plan. Go to Mountain Top and have a "famous" banana daiquiri (quite good), stop and take photos along the way at key points (the driver will know them).
I usually go over to St. John as well. There is a sky tram that goes to the mountain top within walking distance of Havensight Mall/Pier. Awesome views and picture opportunities. Be careful crossing the streets as Dave said.
I have always pretty felt safe on St. Thomas. It is still wise to be careful. I spent some time there after a cruise once. I was told not to walk around at night is all.
I reccomend Godfrey Tours. We took his tour of the island and went shopping downtown. There are some great shops with awesome deals. The sights were amazing, and Godfrey is a wonderful host. For $25 you can't beat it.
1. st.Johns tour is a good choice great of beaches and also a good place just to "discover" during a cruise the views and photo oportunities are great.
2. Havensight Mall is even a good place to explore but there are a few activities walking distnace from it, there is a butterfly farm near port ($15 dollars price per person for the tour) a nice place for the kids and also there is the mountain top.
3. The last time I was there I remember there is a place near port where you can rent scotters and see the island by yourself.
so maybe you should try the st.John tour as I remember the tour boat, at the end, leaves you in front of the ship.
Renting a scooter is not a good idea in my view. The traffic on St. Thomas is awful, curves dangerous (many are blind curves), and then there is the left-lane driving. I often think the scooter rental places in the various Caribbean ports ought to print "hit me" on the back of their scooters.