Getting to St. John from St. Thomas During a Visit by Cruise Ship

by Janis on February 6, 2014

In late December, we sailed a 7-day cruise to the western Caribbean on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam that included a stop at St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Nieuw Amsterdam at Crown Bay Dock, St. ThomasSince 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.  Sixty percent of the island of St. John is a U.S. National Park that is famous for snorkeling, hiking trails and a tropical rain forest.

Taxi rates from Crown Bay Dock, St. 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.  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.

ferry to St John from St. ThomasInstead, 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.

ferry to St. JohnThe scenery between the islands is spectacular during the ferry ride.

Prinsendam, Cruz Bay, St. JohnWe sailed past the Prinsendam, another Holland America ship that was making a port call the same day at St. John.  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. 

Beach Bar, St. JohnThe Beach Bar is located in Wharfside Village, about a 5 minute walk from the Cruz Bay pier where you are delivered by ferry.

The Beach Bar, St. JohnTom and Steve were already there. The menu at the Beach Bar includes salads, sandwiches and a wide variety of appetizers, enjoyed with a waterfront view.

Painkiller, Beach Bar, St. JohnThe star attraction, however, is the Painkiller.

Painkiller recipeThe menu provides the recipe for making a painkiller at home. Without the view of paradise, it just wouldn’t be the same.

St. JohnLunch went by too quickly. We took a quick photo before heading to the ferry. Is that water beautiful?

St. JohnOnce on board, we sailed by the Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Centers as we departed St. John.

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. 

Are you sailing on the Nieuw Amsterdam or another Holland America Line cruise ship? Check out these posts”;

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