Posted Mar 27, 2012
Paradise is just a stone's throw away on a St. Thomas cruise to the Caribbean, where a secluded oasis blends modern conveniences seamlessly with tropical beauty. As the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas offers an array of watersports and inland hiking while the fun-loving locals welcome visitors with a flower necklace and smile. Famous for its shopping and charming towns that line the beaches, this island is also rich with history at sites such as Fort Christian and Blackbeard's Castle.
At Charlotte Amalie, a vibrant port on the southern edge of the island, warehouses that were once filled with pirate booty now serve as stores surrounded by 18th-century buildings. Home to half of the island's 50,000 residents, this port is the commercial center for all of the U.S. Virgin Islands. As the capital of St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie once attracted pirates and sailors from around the world, and now plays host to thousands of visitors from Caribbean cruises. The main streets are now the thruway of a grand outdoor mall of eateries, boutique shops and the occasional street vendor selling sea shells.
St. Thomas is mostly mountainous, allowing visitors to take short hikes trips up the emerald green slopes to experience spectacular views of the surrounding waters. There are numerous restaurants serving fresh clams and lobster , many of which take full advantage of the hillside location by letting diners eat on balconies and gaze into the setting sun. Some of the best dining on a Caribbean cruise is on the Princess ship, where inspired chefs use the seafood found around these rich islands for their gourmet menu items.
Scuba divers and snorkelers on Caribbean shore excursions will be in heaven on St. Thomas, where the underwater world is overflowing with sea life and coral. Considered one of the world's best beaches by National Geographic Magazine, Magens Bay is a perfect stop for visitors who want to take a dip in the warm waters. The palm-lined beach offers many opportunities to walk along the shore and collect seashells. Tourists can make a personalized souvenir by gathering a handful of sea glass and mini sand dollars and placing them in a small jar or recycled beer bottle - the perfect "message in a bottle" for a loved one at home.