Day-long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas are one of the well patronized Caribbean trips for its duty free shops. Its colorful trading history dates as far back as the 1600 while it was under Danish colonial rule. During the era when slavery was at its peak, St. Thomas can be poignantly recalled as the place to go to for slave auctions and trade during those dark moments in US history. Much of the original denizens of this island have since disappeared since it is said they were never able to survive due to diseases or annihilations.
In 1917, the three islands, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix came to be collectively known as the US Virgin Islands when they were bought by the US government for $25 million dollars mainly as strategic military defense in the Caribbean and Panama Canal area.
However, it was only recently, Caribbean cruises became a popular form of recreation and travel, when day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas were introduced. Why not? The US government gave every US citizen the privilege of shopping for $1,600 worth of imported goods completely tax free. Families traveling and shopping together can pool their individual duty –free privileges in order to maximize their ceiling.
Hence today, St. Thomas is still one of the busiest trading places but thankfully enough mostly for duty free shopping. Charlotte Amalie, the island’s capital is a shopper’s haven where the tax cut-off could mean 40% less expensive than the prices if goods were bought in the US mainland or in Puerto Rico. The most sought after boutiques in the world of designer clothing, jewelry, perfumes, electronics, arts and crafts as well as high priced liquors are found in streets, passages and quaint alleys. The district used to be a historical warehouse area during the island’s plantation days.
To make the most of your day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas, here are some travel tips when traveling in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) especially, St. Thomas:
1. Generally, US and Canadian citizens can enter the USVI and stay as long as they want in the islands without the need to present a passport of visa. It’s on your trip back home even for day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas, that you have to show proof that you are a US citizen by showing your passport, or your voter’s ID or your birth certificate. However, it is said that in actual practice, the Immigrations authority will insist on passports as proof citizenship.
2. Generally all foreign visitors are required to show proof of their foreign citizenship before they are allowed to leave the island regardless if they only took the day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas
3. UK citizens can enter the USVI without a passport and without visas but can stay in the islands up to three months only.
4. Visitors coming from other countries will need to present a visa to gain entry to the USVI even for day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas. Hence, it would be best to check the US State Department’s website for info regarding passport and visa requirement.
5. Tourists arriving on the island by planes coming from the US need not clear with the USVI Customs and Immigration upon arrival but passengers arriving on board planes and cruise ships coming from Caribbean countries are required to secure clearance from the Customs and Immigration section upon arrival and departure.
6. Some fruits may be subject to confiscation upon arrival or departure.
7. Cameras and computer devices such as notebooks or laptops are often questioned at the Customs area. Hence, it would be wiser not to bring one along to avoid wasting precious time for your day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas.
8. Taxis and taxi drivers can be a bane in this area if you’re in a hurry to make the most of your day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas. Some will charge exorbitant fares while some others will force you to wait until the taxi is loaded with as many passengers as possible. Both will eat up whatever time and money you’ll spend for your day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas.
9. You can take a safari truck or van which fills up much faster but will have to make multiple stops every time the locals will alit. Again, you’re only on day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas, which means you have limited time and probably none to spare.
10. Car rentals are available and reasonable enough starting at $35 per day if you will get them from rental outlets near the airport, which is about 5 to 10 minutes ride. If you will make reservations to maximize your day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas by making sure you have a ready means of transportation waiting for you, can book a car starting at $56 per day.
11. If you intend to drive a rented car while on day long cruises along the shore of St. Thomas, check with the car rental company about the licensing requirements when driving within the islands. Cars are designed for left-hand driving so if you’re from country that observes right-hand driving, you may have to deal with the difference if you plan on driving yourself around.
Getting all this information before taking the day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas will help lessen your bewilderment on what to do once you arrive at the busy port. Otherwise, you might be spending most of your day long cruises along the shores of St. Thomas clearing in with customs and haggling for taxi fares.