In late December, we sailed aÂ 7-day cruise to the western Caribbean onÂ Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam that included a stop at St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.Â
Since the port call to St. Thomas was scheduled from 8 am to 5 pm, we figured we’d have plenty of time to one of the hourly ferries from Red Hook to visit the neighboring island of St. John. Â Sixty percent of the island of St. JohnÂ is a U.S. National Park that is famous for snorkeling, hiking trails and a tropical rain forest.
The challenge, we learned, is that Holland America cruise ships, along with ships from Princess and Cunard, port at the Crown Bay Dock in St. Thomas, which can be a 45-minute taxi ride to the Red Hook ferry, which transports you to Cruz Bay in St. John. Â While we could have made the trip via a taxi to Red Hook, then a ferry ride to the island, followed by the ferry back to Red Hook and then the taxi back to Crown Bay Dock, it seemed like too many logistics for a fun day.
Instead, we booked the St. John On Your Own shore excursion that is a 45-minute ferry ride from Crown Bay Dock to Cruz Bay in St. John, where you have a little over 2 hours to enjoy the island on your own.
We sailed past the Prinsendam, another Holland America ship that was making a port call the same day at St. John. Â Our friends Tom and Steve were on the Prinsendam, so we had made plans to meet in Cruz Bay for lunch.
I remembered Pusser’s, a place famous for its “Painkiller” cocktails when I had visited St. John in the early 1990’s. Thanks to the internet, I learned: 1) I’m not the only one wanting to relive this experience; and 2) Pusser’s is long gone but replaced by The Beach Bar.Â
45 minutes later, we were back to Crown Bay Dock in St. Thomas, where we headed back on board the Nieuw Amsterdam.
Two hours is not enough time in St. John. But two hours in paradise is better, in our opinion, than staying in the Crown Bay Dock shopping mall.
Have you visited St. John via a cruise ship? What did you do there? Please share in comments below.Â
Are you sailing on the Nieuw Amsterdam or another Holland America Line cruise ship? Check out these postsâ€¦
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- Is the Signature Beverage Program on Holland America Cruises A Good Deal?
- Cruising the British Isles: Onboard the Prinsendam