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Old 12-15-2002, 06:11 PM
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48 days and counting until we set sail on Navigaor of the Seas - one of our stops is in St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie). Royal Caribbean offers a "Historic Walking Tour & Shopping" excursion - $30 per person.

For anyone who's been there: is it worth it or necessary to take a tour like this?

We're not afraid to walk on our own, but we haven't the foggiest idea what the port is like. When we sailed to Georgetown, Grand Cayman earlier this year, we enjoyed just wandering the downtown area and finding neat little things by ourselves. The city felt very safe and we weren't hassled by street vendors, as I've heard is the case in Jamaica. We just walked down the street; found interesting local places, like the Post Office (P.O. boxes accessible from the outside of the building), local shops, and a small grocery story where we bought bottled water and fun, non-U.S. candy bars. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] We never felt far from the pier physically and knew we could easily get back to our ship on time, but we definitely got away from the crowds of passengers, most of whom just hung around the immediate pier area and waited for their organized tours to begin.

Is St. Thomas anything like this? Or are we better off sticking with the tour groups?

Thanks,


-Scott H
Chicago

ps: We are planning to take the skyride to Paradise Point; the views are supposed to be fantastic. Is this worth RCCL's $15 ticket price, or can we do this solo as well?
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Old 12-15-2002, 06:11 PM
Scott H's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 25
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48 days and counting until we set sail on Navigaor of the Seas - one of our stops is in St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie). Royal Caribbean offers a "Historic Walking Tour & Shopping" excursion - $30 per person.

For anyone who's been there: is it worth it or necessary to take a tour like this?

We're not afraid to walk on our own, but we haven't the foggiest idea what the port is like. When we sailed to Georgetown, Grand Cayman earlier this year, we enjoyed just wandering the downtown area and finding neat little things by ourselves. The city felt very safe and we weren't hassled by street vendors, as I've heard is the case in Jamaica. We just walked down the street; found interesting local places, like the Post Office (P.O. boxes accessible from the outside of the building), local shops, and a small grocery story where we bought bottled water and fun, non-U.S. candy bars. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] We never felt far from the pier physically and knew we could easily get back to our ship on time, but we definitely got away from the crowds of passengers, most of whom just hung around the immediate pier area and waited for their organized tours to begin.

Is St. Thomas anything like this? Or are we better off sticking with the tour groups?

Thanks,


-Scott H
Chicago

ps: We are planning to take the skyride to Paradise Point; the views are supposed to be fantastic. Is this worth RCCL's $15 ticket price, or can we do this solo as well?
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Old 12-16-2002, 09:16 AM
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It's a little far to town from the cruise pier. you can get a cab easily. if you just want to shop
there is a large shopping complex at the pier. St. Thomas and St. John (a short ferry away) has great beaches and snorkeling.
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Old 12-16-2002, 09:44 AM
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A cab ride from the pier to downtown is about $3 per person, and shopping is abundant downtown and also at Havensight Mall (by the cruise dock) - less crowded and hassled at the latter. You can take the Paradise Point tram independently, but it's a bit of a walk; by the time you add cab rides, the $15 may be worth it. Nice view from up there - I'd recommend doing it! One advantage of doing it on your own, you may get to spend a bit longer up top than if with the RCCL group. Try the nature trail if you don't have mobility problems - not fancy but kind of fun (and an all-uphill walk!) Have fun! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]
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Old 12-30-2002, 07:17 PM
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If you tie up at the cruise pier, take either a cab or a minivan. Go with another couple and negotiate a tour price with the driver. You can stroll through the town itself in about one hour, stopping at the major stores. Serious shopping will of course take longer.

If you leave the ship by tender, you will dock at the foot of the most important streets in town, with shopping everywhere.

Check prices before you sail, get local prices and tell them you'll be back. Go 'next door' and check their prices. Be careful of discontinued items.

HOW I love that place!!!
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Old 12-30-2002, 11:05 PM
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Read "Diamond Jewelry" posting 4-5 below this, and BEWARE. We've been to St. Thomas 3 times, and love the place. No need to get a tour if you pull into the main pier. Shuttle buses are available for $3/person, to and from the various ships. We did all shopping the first time, 2nd time we did Highlights of St. Thomas, and this time we did Coral World, which was more of an aquarium, but the 3-4 other picture stops were well worth it. We were lucky when we were there at the beginning of the month, as we got deck space at the main pier. If you need a tende and/or a distant location, allow yourself plenty of time to get to/from the ship. The traffic is incredible, and only 5 ships were in the day we were. The busiest day last year had 12 ships in. Just can't believe what it would have been like. It's too far to walk, and unless you want cobblestones and tropical heat, I would rule that out. Remember that if you take a shopping tour, they'll drop you off where they want you to go, and not allow enough time to check out competitive prices. NEVER believe the sticker price for jewelry, and always bargain. Merchants are used to it, with the exception of the 1 mentioned in the post. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif[/img]
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Old 12-31-2002, 08:37 AM
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quote:
If you need a tender and/or a distant location, allow yourself plenty of time to get to/from the ship.


Thanks for the tips. My wife is pondering a RCCL tour called "Walking Tour & Shopping". From your description, it sounds like we could do just as well with a guidebook from the library and do our own shopping.

Any ideas on how to find out if we'll arrive at the main pier, tender, or be docked at an outlying pier? We're on the Navigator of the Seas, arriving in St. Thomas on February 4.

Thanks,


-Scott H
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Old 01-01-2003, 06:15 AM
Sue Sue is offline
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Hi Scott,
You don't know until possibly the day before, whether you'll be tendered or in port. The tours come back saying possible tenders. Shore Excursion desk should be able to tell you the day before what's going to happen. Also, with tenders, there's always the possibility that you might not be able to stop at a particular port due to bad weather and rough seas. We've never experienced that problem, but it does happen. I'm sure everything will work out fine. Happy sailing!
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Old 01-06-2003, 11:12 PM
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Scott, I've been to St. Thomas several times. The only reason you would want a guided tour of downtown is if your interested in the history of the buildings and island. Otherwise, take a cab and then walk around town. If you're a beach person, Magen's Bay on the opposite side of the island is really special. It's a nice place to spend a few hours. If you're into shopping, I'd go downtown. It's more fun strolling the streets and alleys than looking at the goods in the shops near the pier.
 
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