Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

St. Thomas is in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States of America between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico. It was formerly known as the Danish West Indies. Together with the British Virgin Islands, to the northeast, the territory forms the Virgin Islands archipelago.


Even though it's only 31 square miles, St. Thomas does have a couple of official cities.

  • Charlotte Amalie (pronounced SHAR-lut uh-MAHL-yuh or AH-muh-lee) - The capital city, referred to as "downtown", is the destination for many cruise ships due to its deep water harbor. Nearly every day, tourists visit some of the 300 or so jewelry and other stores in the city. But it's a great... Read more

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas


St. Thomas is in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States of America between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico. It was formerly known as the Danish West Indies. Together with the British Virgin Islands, to the northeast, the territory forms the Virgin Islands archipelago.


Even though it's only 31 square miles, St. Thomas does have a couple of official cities.

  • Charlotte Amalie (pronounced SHAR-lut uh-MAHL-yuh or AH-muh-lee) - The capital city, referred to as "downtown", is the destination for many cruise ships due to its deep water harbor. Nearly every day, tourists visit some of the 300 or so jewelry and other stores in the city. But it's a great place to "people watch" as well. Frenchtown is where the classier places are, for food and drinks. Downtown there are a couple of bars that sport the younger crowd and have loud music etc.
  • Red Hook

    - Also referred to as the East End. There is a little more nightlife and activities, restaurants in Red Hook, you can catch the dollar taxi, it takes about 30 minutes to get there. Red Hook has ferry service to the island of Saint John.

Other destinations

  • Magen's Bay 

    - The most famous feature, besides shopping, on the island. Directly across on the northern side from Charlotte Amalie, a crescent shaped bay with a mile of white sand and several bars and small stores. Taxis from downtown cost about 15 dollars, and if there are any cruise ships on the day you go, you can bet it will have at least a few beached white tourist fish. The trip to Magen's Bay (and back) can pass Mountain Top, with a mass of souvenir offerings and a great view of Magen's Bay and beyond; enjoy a banana daiquiri (invented there), but don't let it ruin your day! Continuing return to Charlotte Amalie offers excellent mountainside views of the harbor.
  • Hull Bay - The next bay to the west of Magen's, on the Atlantic ocean, and in the winter there is the island's only surfing. There is a shop where you can rent boards, but in typical island style, you would be lucky to catch the owner there to rent you one. Better to call ahead a few days and leave a message.
  • Brewer's Bay - Beautiful small beach near the University, especially nice at sunset. The landing strip for the airport is right on the other side, and the sun sets somewhere out in the middle.
  • Sapphire Beach - Beach resort, open to the public but you can stay there too if that is where you want to be. Nice beach, rent a snorkel and check out the nice clear water and coral. There are a couple of bars and a swimming pool, sometimes a live band at night, if you haven't had a BBC (Bailey's, banana, coconut) they are pretty tasty.
  • Coki Beach 

    - The best snorkeling beach on St. Thomas. Normal underwater visibility of 100+ feet! Great beach for kids to learn to snorkel. It's very calm and you can feed the fish in about 3-4 feet of water if you want to. They sell dog treats to feed to the fish and it's really cool to see them swarm you for one. Beware of the locals though, you will be asked if you want to buy something 20 times before you make it to the beach, once there you are pretty much left alone though. If you take a tourist taxi to Coki Beach (they have awnings) you must be sure to take the same driver on the return trip. If you try to take a different driver, nasty arguments can happen. Get the name of the driver who took you and make a time for pickup and return. There are no food facilities at Coki Beach, so be sure to plan for this. There is food available on the beach. People walk around with small menus asking if you want anything to eat. There is also a smoothie stand that only makes all natural smoothies.
  • Secret Harbour - This is a private resort, but they allow visitors to use the beach. Not so for the chairs, which must be rented from a very diligent attendant. There are a number of rather large iguanas that wander around the property. They are not pet material and usually run off if approached. However, some people have received bad bites from them. There is a very nice restaurant on the beach called the Blue Moon; not only was the food reasonably-priced and delicious, but it's also one of the few places that will give you free soda refills, and you can't beat the view. Their Bloody Mary is a must try as it's rimmed with a spicy Caribbean seasoning. The snorkeling was decent close to the beach and is great for beginner snorkelers (you'll even catch a glimpse of a pair of small squid!). There's a dive shop on site where you can rent chairs and snorkel gear, buy underwater cameras and chum. Taxis know this resort well, and unlike many islands where you have to prearrange a pickup when dropped off when you are ready to leave Secret Harbour several taxis are lined up and waiting in front of the resort.
  • Water Island. Across the bay from Charlotte Amalie, this small island has trails and an old sugar mill back from the slave days. The island has some cottages, but no real commercial establishments.


This is the islands, so naturally, the locals are very laid back. You can count on speedy service especially in the areas where they are used to dealing with a lot of tourists though. Some decorum is still important; keep swimwear on the beach, and dress comfortably for other activities.
Say "good morning" "good afternoon" or "good night" when you get in a taxi or before you start talking to someone and they will be more friendly, this is the polite thing to do and shows that you aren't a complete tourist.

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Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: Port Information

Saint Thomas is a very popular stop for cruise ships on both Eastern Caribbean and Southern Caribbean itineraries.
  • Most dock at the West Indian Company Dock, next to Havensight shopping mall, and a near two mile walk to downtown Charlotte Amalie. Enjoy a nice walk. Passengers can also easily get an open-air "Safari" cab ride each way to/from downtown.
  • Some ships dock at Crown Bay, a slightly longer walk to downtown than Havensight. It too is served by taxis and Safari Cabs, and several small stores open when ships are docked there.
  • When many ships stop here on any day, some may have to anchor off-shore and tender passengers ashore...sometimes to the waterfront at downtown Charlotte Amalie.

Get around Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Once you've reached any area (e.g., "downtown", Havensight, Red Hook), walking becomes the preferred way to get around. However, the island, in general, is too expansive and hilly to explore totally on foot, especially if you are on a limited schedule, e.g., on a cruise ship.

By Bus Tour Several tour operators offer professional tours to popular locations by air-conditioned bus. You can make arrangements privately or through your cruise ship.

By Private Tour If you want to tour the island thoroughly, consider hiring a cab/driver for a few hours. Many are amiable and well-qualified to show you places the buses can't or don't go, and where buses go, your driver can time your arrival to avoid the bus crowds. Cab drivers are happy to oblige, so you should have no trouble hiring one at any resort, the cruise ship docks, downtown or in shopping areas.

By car

There are plenty of rental car offices in the airport and around Charlotte Amalie. Traffic drives on the left side of the road and all cars are US Specification left-hand drive cars. Outside of Charlotte Amalie, the roads are mostly narrow and quite dangerous if you go too fast. Obey the speed limits and take the curves with caution. Local drivers are rather aggressive, and they speed around the turns and honk liberally, although the horn is used more often to say "hello" or "thank you" than express displeasure.
Major routes are marked with two-digit route numbers (beginning with 3 and 4 on this island), and minor connectors get three-digit numbers. The sign of choice is black numbers on a white circle, the same as several states on the mainland. Unlike St. John or St. Croix, all of St. Thomas' numbered routes are paved. However, the routes are not well signed on most of the southern half of the island, especially around Charlotte Amalie, and they are prone to suddenly turning off onto another road or changing numbers without notice.
If you are planning to go on a driving tour, bring a good map, then, if you want any hope of following the numbered routes. Most rental car offices hand out a map with a rental; if you didn't get one, the same map can be picked up at most stores. The one in the back of your guidebook is likely not detailed enough. However, even if you do have a map, you may still have to ask a local for directions. If you are in this situation, be aware that any question such as "How do I get to Route 30?" will be almost universally met with a blank stare. The route numbers are mostly for tourist convenience; locals do not know the numbers, or even the road names in most cases. Often you will get directions such as "Turn left at the fork in the road, then right at the gas station."

By ferries

Ferries leave from Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook to other islands pretty much all day every couple of hours. There are information booths along the waterfront where you can get a schedule for the local ferries and a ferry terminal near French Town for the longer distances (BVI etc). For on-line schedules to plan your outing, try 5 for getting around the USVI, and 6 for reaching the British Virgin Islands. If you are going to St. John it is much cheaper and faster to go from Red Hook.

By taxi

  • Tourist taxis will take you anywhere at a premium, from one end of the island to the other. Taxi prices are PER PERSON. The big truck taxis will charge by the person, the legitimate taxis will have a meter, and the gypsy taxis will bid for your service and all of them will be waiting in crowds outside restaurants and bars after dark. There are approximately 3,000 taxis on the island, half gypsy (unlicensed).
  • Dollar taxis run from sunrise to sunset, whenever they feel like it. They have one route with set stops. If you want to ride one, ask someone where to wait for one. They look just like the tourist taxis, but they will be filled with locals instead of tourists. They go from the end of airport road to Sapphire Bay and back, one way. Yes, one way, it goes in figure 8 from the Airport, through Charlotte Amalie to the mall in the middle, out to the east end, back to the mall and downtown again. The taxis run at random but frequently enough. The dollar taxis do not run all the way to the airport, so don't try it. Their last stop is near Brewers Bay, a good mile from the terminal.
  • Safari Cabs - Endless "safari cabs" (pickup trucks converted to offer 3-5 covered bench seats) go back and forth from downtown and ships' docks...per "Get In" above. If you look like a tourist dockside or on the street downtown, you will be asked quite often but amiably if you need a ride. 

General note: Everyone in the city uses their horns liberally...short toots for "hello". They drive on the left side of the street and don't really follow the rules. They don't follow the rules about a lot of things, in fact, they are very disorganized, but it can be charming.

What to see in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Charlotte Amalie

  • Paradise Point offers an excellent view of the harbor and Charlotte Amalie. The Skyride takes about 5 minutes each way. Up top is a short walking trail where many local flowers and birds can be found.
  • St. Thomas Synagogue the oldest synagogue under the flag of the United States of America.
  • Charlotte Amalie Harbor is one of the most beautiful harbors to be found anywhere. There are almost always lots of sailboats and yachts moored in the harbor, many with windmills spinning away. It's ringed by hills, and when there are several cruise ships docked, it can be quite a sight.
  • 99 steps Built by the Danes in the mid 18th century, to climb up and down the steep hills of Charlotte Amalie. The bricks used to build the steps were brought from Denmark as ballast in the hulls of sailing ships.

Outside the city

  • Coral World. Coki Point northeast shore Spend the day at Coral World Ocean Park, one of St. Thomas’s Greatest Attractions. Get up close and personal with the beauty and magic of Caribbean marine life in a stunning setting. View life on a coral reef from the unique Undersea Observatory. Pet a shark, hand feed a stingray or a rainbow lorikeet! There are several gift shops, cafes and shower facilities. Additional activities include brand new dive operations Snuba and Power Snorkel as well as the Sea Lion Splash, Sea Trek Helmet Dive, Shark and Turtle Encounters, Nautilus Semi-Sub, and Parasailing. Located next to Coki Beach. Open 9-5 daily, November - May. Summer schedule may vary.
  • Fort Christian A bright red Danish-build fort from the mid-1600s. Its museum has exhibits of historical photos and artifacts, furniture, a cane press, local flora and fauna and more. The fort's roof affords nice panoramic views of the harbor. 

What to do in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

  • St. Thomas Skyride to Paradise Point, ☎ +1 340-774-9809. 9617 Estate Thomas HarborSide. Open 9 AM-5 PM when cruise ships are in port. A short walk from the West Indian Company cruise ship dock to the tram which takes you up to the top for fabulous views, a drink and maybe lunch. If you have a car, you can drive to the shops/bar/cafe at the top.
  • Coral World for watersports or parasailing.
  • Mahogany Run Golf Course, ☎ +1 340-777-6250. Mahogany Run Road. Beautiful 18 hole, 6,022-yard, par-70 course. Home of the "Devil's Triangle".
  • Captain Nautica Powerboat Charters, ☎ +1 340-715-3379. Red Hook Plaza. Daily News "Best of the VI's" award for Best Charter Boat.
  • Scuba diving, a number of operators offer guided scuba diving tours. St Thomas has a number of particularly enjoyable wreck dives including the Miss Opportunity, the WIT Shoal and the WIT Concrete. Most operators will pick up visitors from the cruise ship dock.
  • Reichhold Center for the Arts, ☎ +1 340-693-1559. 2 John Brewers Bay.

What to eat and drink in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas


  • Craig & Sally's, 3525 Honduras (Frenchtown), ☎ +1 340 777-9949. Lunch: W-F 11:30 AM-3 PM; dinner W-Su 5:30 PM-10 PM. This 20-year-old restaurant is one of the island's nicest, and a pretty classic Frenchtown choice. It's fine dining, with the islands reputed "best steak," and a tapas menu that changes nightly. You'll find of the best wine lists in the islands. If you are hoping for an island-themed, kitschy-vacation place (or even simply a place with a view over the Caribbean), this is not that - it is quite simply a top-notch restaurant that happens to be located on Saint Thomas. 
  • Frenchtown Deli, ☎ +1 340. This hole-in-the-wall has an extensive lunch menu with delicious salads and sandwiches. They also serve breakfast and are located in Frenchtown, right next to Hook Line & Sinker.
  • Gladys' Cafe (Garden St (a narrow/quaint alleyway) between Main St and Veterans Dr, Royal Dane Mall), ☎ +1 340. 7 AM-5 PM daily. Offers tasty Caribbean and American dishes and a small bar, in a friendly atmosphere. She may sing along with the classical jazz recordings playing for background.
  • Hook, Line, & Sinker (Frenchtown), ☎ +1 340 776-9708. Lunch: M-Sa 11:30 AM-4 PM; brunch: Su 10 AM-2:30 PM; dinner: M-Sa 6 PM-10 PM. Excellent food and friendly service right on the waterfront. The swordfish is quite good. 
  • Mafolie Restaurant, 7091 Estate Mafolie, ☎ +1 340 774-2790. 5 PM-10 PM daily (bar: 5 PM-11 PM). The food, classic American surf and turf, emphasis on the surf, is very good but not up to par with and more expensive than what you can find at a select few high-end Saint Thomas restaurants. But the view really is magnificent. You will sit on a hill with a perfectly centered/framed view overlooking Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas Harbor, and Hassel Island. As such, this is a much better option for an early dinner, as the value of the view sets along with the sun. 
  • Oceana, 8 Honduras (Frenchtown, right on the water), ☎ +1 340 774-4262. Tu-Su 5:30 PM-10 PM. Particularly nice at sunset. Excellent seafood, can be expensive. 
  • Rancho Latino (Vitraco Mall at Havensight), ☎ +1 340. Tasty Dominican (think Spanish-Caribbean) cuisine in a casual spot surrounded by tourist traps near the cruise ships.
  • Room with a View (In Bluebeard's Castle), ☎ +1 340 774-2377. M-Sa 5 PM-10 PM. Just outside of town, great steaks and seafood, and often considered the finest dining on the island. Nice view, too. 
  • Shawny's Shack, 5331 Yacht Haven Grand (Yacht Haven), ☎ +1 340 344-9814. A kiosk serving tasty West Indian food to the people taking a break from serving the tourists food. So yes, this is very much a locals' place. But don't get in the way during their lunch break—they need to get back to work quickly!
  • Thirteen, 13A Estate Dorothea (On Crown Mountain Rd), ☎ +1 340 774-6800. Generally considered one of the island's top foodie destinations, Thirteen is hard as hell to find if you aren't simply taking a cab. It's on the north side of the island, and pretty far up, making for a distinctly cool, if not chilly breeze while you eat your meal. The decor is laid back, cool, and stylish, while not competing with the flashy, upscale Contemporary American cuisine for your attention. Service is uncommonly on-point for the island! Reservations are a must. 
  • Victor's New Hideout (On a hillside overlooking Crown Bay from the west.), ☎ +1 340. Offers tasty Caribbean cooking with a beautiful view and fresh breezes. Tricky to get to, not really walkable, but locals (e.g., taxi drivers) know how to reach it, and worth the effort.

If you'd like to eat a fresh coconut, there is an old man who comes to the tent market in Charlotte Amalie most every day with a pickup truck full of coconuts and a machete. You drink the milk and give it back and he gives it another crack or more so you can eat the "meat".


With bottled liquor so inexpensive, most "watering holes" are for visitors, yet offer attractive prices.

Shopping in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

The island is arguably the biggest shopping mecca in the Caribbean. Goods are imported to the island duty and excise free, and visitors do not directly pay any duty or tax on purchases (merchants do pay a Gross Receipts Tax of 5%.) Buyers may face Customs duty as they return home if they exceed their Customs exemption.
U.S. currency is used/accepted universally. ATMs can be found in numerous locations. As anywhere, major purchases should be made by credit card. (Credit cards issued by U.S. banks do not induce foreign-exchange fees, others may.) Most store-front establishments, resorts, and restaurants accept credit cards and traveler checks. Few places accept personal checks. Sellers in open-air bazaars may not accept credit or debit cards.
You can shop many dozens of stores downtown (in Charlotte Amalie), and others in a few malls dotting the island, and near cruise ship docks, e.g.:

  • Havensight. Has many of the same shops as downtown, but in smaller versions.
  • Yacht Haven Grande next to Havensight offers restaurants and premium branded stores.
  • Crown Bay has a modest number of stores similar to Havensight (most closed when no ship is docked there).
  • You'll see Pueblo Supermarkets (modest by mainland standards) near Havensight and Crown Bay.

You'll find numerous tent kiosks at Vendor's Plaza at the near southeast side of downtown...across the highway from the waterfront. There you'll see many colorful offerings in shirts, caftans, rainwear, etc., often marked with USVI scenes or logos, most manufactured elsewhere. Other stores in resorts, strip malls, etc., tend to serve locals and land vacationers; many of them open on Sundays, e.g., K-Mart (one walkable from Havensight) & a larger store in Tutu Park.
In many stores, gems, jewelry, watches, liquor, cosmetics, perfumes, linens and (sometimes) cameras, optics, electronics, and fine crystal and china can be good buys but know the costs for the same/similar items back home. (Some cameras, optics, and electronics may be obtained at home from aggressive discounters (e.g., on the Internet) for equivalent or lower prices. But those savings can disappear if those sellers charge sales tax, shipping costs, or extra for US-importer warranties.) Price advantages for U.S. citizens may be helped by generous duty exemptions. These advantages can make the economics of buying in the USVI slightly better for U.S. citizens than elsewhere (e.g., St Martin) where prices may be similar, sometimes better. However, unique, appealing or well-priced items seen elsewhere should not be avoided because of feared duty costs...often modest even if you exceed your exemption.
Bargaining is appropriate in open-air bazaars, and should be tried in stores but may be rebuffed in a few for some kinds of items. Here, ensure that items of interest that need any kind of (service) warranty have one in writing that is usable at home, e.g., for electronics, watches, cameras. You need to ask if any warranty is "grey-market", international or backed by the US-importer, and understand the consequences of what's offered. For valuable gems or jewelry, ensure the seller provides a written description and certified appraisal of each item's worth.
In exchange for very large fees paid by some merchants, "port shopping advisers" on cruise ships tout those merchants as more reliable than others, with passenger satisfaction "guaranteed, except for negligence or buyer's regret". Ultimately, you pay those fees. But most stores are quite reputable, ready to rectify any problem that's truly their responsibility. Touted or not, smaller retailers such as Artistic Jewelry and Mr. Tablecloth offer quality fully-equivalent to such large and famous stores as Cardow or A.H. Riise. And they may offer items seen nowhere else. The best approach...always thoroughly inspect any high-cost item and obtain a written/signed description or appraisal before accepting it.
Per "Get in" discussion above, when many cruise ships are in port, the open-air bazaar and stores can be crowded...sometimes very crowded. That can compromise bargaining success and how well you are helped even in the best stores with fine staffs. Shopping early or late can help avoid some of the crowds. Stores downtown (Charlotte Amalie) usually open at 09:30-10:00 and close around 5:00 PM. Half-day, morning ship's tours (the most popular) end about noon back at the ship, and ship itineraries often call for departures at 4-6 PM (with all-aboard as much as an hour earlier). You might time your shopping accordingly.
On Sunday, early can be essential. A few stores (mostly in downtown Charlotte Amalie) don't open, more open only if at least one cruise ship is in port, and many of those stores close by early-mid afternoon. Occasionally, local holidays/festivals make shopping downtown problematic due to street and store closures, e.g., for parades. Most carnivals/celebrations are in late April & early May.
Especially if you must fly to get home, you may wish to have stores ship out-sized or heavy items home for you (liquor, perfumes, and tobacco excluded). Costs for surface shipping can be modest, air a bit more but faster. (Your local Post Office, UPS or FEDEX store should be able to give you example costs. "Know Before You Go" noted below indicates the US Postal Service is more convenient for sending dutiable items.) Any method helps avoid the dangers of damage (or theft) by baggage handlers, greatly simplifies your return home, and allows you to refuse to accept (at/hear home) any shipment that appears damaged. There are requirements for documentation and customs labeling when shipping dutiable items. Retailers should help, and may even arrange everything. If significant customs duty will be involved, you may have to pay it at/near home as you receive the item(s). But ask the merchant if you can simply declare the item on your Customs form as you return home.
Several stores offer large and varied selections of quality and premium liquors (and other merchandise) at low prices rarely if ever seen in the U.S. For liquor, they include: A.H. Riise/Penha, Dynasty, Caribana and others downtown; many of the same names in Havensight, plus K-Mart, Pueblo Supermarket and Al Cohen's Warehouse near Havensight; A.H. Riise/Penha and Supreme Liquors at Crown Bay, with another Pueblo Supermarket nearby. Prices in most stores for popular brands are quite close except for scattered "specials". Prices for highly-premium brands may vary more. Most liquor comes in one-liter bottles (some larger), some US-produced and many European liquors come in .75 liter ("fifths"), and liqueurs may be in still other sizes. So take care when calculating or comparing cost per ounce or liter.
Some of those stores will box your purchases and deliver them to your ship the same day at no charge if you ask and purchase early enough. That way, you don't have to carry them with you the rest of the day. Others (e.g., K-Mart, Cohen's) usually have boxes available and may box bottles for you to carry. (Boxes/boxing and delivery may be the major difference among sellers.) If you have a choice, smaller boxes (e.g., 2-4 bottles each) are easier to pack and pad in luggage. Large purchases of liquor induce considerable logistics challenges, so plan ahead on what to buy and how to carry it back. If you are on a cruise:

  • Any liquor you carry onboard will be collected, and returned to you on the last day of your cruise, in whatever container(s) you used to carry it. Use something for adequate padding, e.g., newspaper.
  • Other bottles may be delivered to your ship, boxed for you by the merchant (sometimes with many other boxes wrapped on a pallet) and similarly and automatically collected by the ship's staff. They'll be brought to your cabin the last day of the cruise.

Customs and duties

The following discussion focuses on U.S. customs laws/procedures. Many of these basic processes are similar for travelers returning to other home countries.
You should always consult authoritative sources to obtain and understand the consequences of customs limits and duty costs before making major purchases, e.g., for U.S. Customs. Otherwise:

  • You may face unexpected costs (duty levies) if you make purchases that exceed your duty allowances.
  • Unscrupulous sellers may try to convince you that you enjoy far higher exemptions (and freedom from duty, inspection, and seizure of illegal items) that are untrue...just to make a sale.

Don't pay duty on valuables you already own and take on your trip.
Best-effort recap of U.S. duty exemptions: The following summarizes your duty exemptions/allowances as you return home having visited the U.S. Virgin Islands (actually any part of any U.S. protectorate) on any part of your trip:

  • Liquor: Under a separate duty exemption, each adult U.S. citizen is allowed to return to the U.S. with four liters or five-fifths of liquor duty-free (up from one liter), provided at least half of the value was purchased in the USVI. If you purchase at least one liter of product made or bottled in the USVI (e.g., Cruzan rum), you can return with five liters/six fifths duty-free. (Otherwise, if you buy only outside the USVI, your exemption is one liter.) With different bottle sizes noted above, take care about numbers of bottles versus total liters purchased for your Customs declaration. Exemptions for wine and beer are different. Adult members of immediate families can "pool" liquor exemptions. If you moderately exceed your exemption, duty will be moderate.
    • Take care with large quantities, e.g., Florida treats more than 20 fifths or liters as a commercial importation, requiring in-advance an importer's license (not easily or quickly obtained, and involving an annual fee) and payment of state sales tax in addition to Federal duty and taxes. Without it, U.S. Customs is required to report such amounts, and to collect all duties/taxes from "licensed importers"...or to confiscate the items.
  • Gems/Jewelry: U.S. Customs treats loose gemstones (even fully faceted) as "rocks" having no dutiable value. However, if mounted in jewelry, the full cost as finished jewelry must be declared. No reputable jeweler will separately sell you an unmounted stone and its mount to avoid duty; it would place them and you in violation of the law; if discovered by Customs, items may well be confiscated, with other actions possible.
  • Tobacco: A separate quantity restriction applies to tobacco products. Overages may be confiscated.
  • Blacklisted sources/items: Any goods made in Cuba (or other "blacklisted" countries), and items deemed contraband (e.g., certain animal or plant products) will be confiscated by Customs if found. Major amounts may generate a fine or result in arrest.
  • Unique items: Original artworks created here/abroad and certain other custom-made items may also be treated as non-dutiable; you'll need a certificate of origin from the seller.

USGR/AGR You may find goods that were made in the U.S., e.g., some T-shirts, a few brands of jewelry. So ask the sellers. Such items are called "U.S./American Goods Returning" (USGR or AGR) and do not count against your duty exemptions. If so, ensure the seller provides a proper/formal indication on or with a receipt so that the cost(s) will not count against your duty allowance. Similar policy may apply for products made in and returning to other countries.
All purchases (including USGR/AGR) and gifts you've received (except what you've consumed or given away before returning) must be itemized on your customs declaration; USGR/AGR and other exempted item costs should not be included in the dutiable sum of your purchases. Have receipts, certificates, and merchandise for all listed purchases readily at hand as you pass through Customs. Be sure to list any food products by type.
As you return home (U.S. mainland or Puerto Rico)...

  • While on your ship, you'll be instructed to fill out a Customs form.
  • And go through Customs, have purchases, receipts, Forms 4457 and the Customs declaration form handy to show officials. They may opt not to charge duty for purchases in slight excess of any limit. They will often charge for each limit exceeded if you are paying duty for other purchases anyway.

Other customs enforcement (e.g., for Canada or EC countries) depends on country limits and customs diligence.

Returning home

(Emphasis U.S.; please expand):

If cruising, you'll probably go through customs processing at the port where your cruise ends. If you then return home by land (e.g., drive), you'll be weight/size limited only by your vehicle and your ability to carry everything off the least just before you claim luggage in the terminal that has been carried ashore for you.

Purchases may be too numerous or heavy to be hand-carried on flights even if permitted. Compare luggage fees you'll encounter with the cost-savings you may see at purchase. Fees may considerably outstrip savings. (Yes, these realities have greatly affected merchants' business worldwide.) If you have weight or size challenges, consider shipping what you are allowed to. If you need to pack a fragile item in luggage, avoid placing it in the same bag with a heavy item.
Whether in checked or carry-on luggage, high-alcohol-content liquids (e.g., liquor over 140 proof, major quantities of perfume/cologne) are deemed a fire hazard and will be confiscated if found.

Safety in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

As a pedestrian, take care with the often heavy traffic by looking both ways before crossing. Remember that they drive on the left side.

Generally, tap water is potable everywhere, although most is reclaimed by desalination plants, so the water temperature may be warmer than expected.

Language spoken in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

English is the official language but there is a local dialect. You may also find Spanish and French Creole being spoken.


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Honeymoon Beach, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9.9 (15 votes)

One of the principal attractions of Water Island is Honeymoon beach, in Druif Bay, on the west end of the island. Initially, Honeymoon Beach could hardly be called a beach. It was an area about 50 feet (15 m) long strewn with vegetation and rocks and only extended about 10 feet (3.0 m) from the water line. The trees and brush were removed, 200...
99 Steps, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9.2 (12 votes)

99 Steps were built by the Danes in the mid 18th century to climb up and down the steep hills of Charlotte Amalie. The bricks used to build the steps were brought from Denmark as ballast in the hulls of sailing ships.
Water Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9.5 (19 votes)

Water Island (Danish: Vand ø) was acquired by the USA in 1917 from Denmark but continued to be owned by a corporation until several decades later. Since 1996, it has formed part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a United States territory located in the Caribbean Sea. The island is of volcanic origin and lies to the south of Saint Thomas in the Charlotte...
Pirates Treasure Museum, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9.2 (12 votes)

It is a great place to plunge into the exciting history and adventures of the pirates. Fascinating stories, centuries-old artifacts and treasures, interactive exhibits, and even more - Pirates Treasure Museum is a perfect option for visitors of all ages. Also, there’s a gift store with cool pirate-theme souvenirs.
Secret Harbour, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9.5 (13 votes)

This is a private resort, but they allow visitors to use the beach. Not so for the chairs, which must be rented from a very diligent attendant. Many rather large iguanas wander around the property. They are not pet material and usually run off if approached. However, some people have received bad bites from them. The snorkeling was decent close...
Blackbeard's Castle, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9 (14 votes)

Blackbeard's Castle is one of five National Historic Landmarks in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is located in the city of Charlotte Amalie, on the island of St. Thomas. Built in 1679 by the Danes as a watchtower to protect the harbor as well as Fort Christian. Blackbeard's Castle was originally called Skytsborg Tower (meaning protection tower). It...
Mountain Top, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9.4 (7 votes)

It is another popular location to admire breathtaking views of St. Thomas, Magens Bay, and surrounding islands. Besides, it’s a great place to buy souvenirs, clothes, accessories, and other gifts and taste its famous banana daiquiri. Mountain Top is located on St. Peter Mountain.
Drake Seat, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9 (10 votes)

Drake Seat is deservedly considered one of the island's best lookouts. It offers a breathtaking view of Magen's Bay. Besides, it's a significant location to get acquainted with the history of St. Thomas. They say 16th-century explorer Sir Francis Drake kept watch for enemy ships and his fleet.
St. Thomas Synagogue, Charlotte Amalie
Average: 9.4 (13 votes)

St. Thomas Synagogue is an historic synagogue at Crystal Gade #16AB, Queens Quarters, in Charlotte Amalie on the island of Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The formal name of the synagogue is Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997. History Saint Thomas Synagogue was built in 1833, and...
Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Average: 9 (12 votes)

This newest eco-attraction is located 1.2 miles northwest of Charlotte Amalie. It opened in 2015 after 20(!) years of being under construction. Here you’ll find beautiful tropical plants and orchids, places to stroll, sit, and enjoy stunning views. There’s also a lovely gift shop in Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden.

Latest travel blogs about Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Photo by: Coolcaesar/Wiki/CC BY-SA 3.0

Top-10 landmarks of St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) by CruiseBe

Have you ever heard about one heavenly island somewhere in the Eastern Caribbean with great opportunities for all downshifting, shopping, and diving lovers? It is a popular port of call of the U.S. Virgin Islands among the cruise ships conquering Caribbean & Bermuda and Transatlantic...

Our good friends recommended the  Holland America  cruise. They love a relaxing holiday, which offers the opportunity to relax after a frenzied rhythm of activity. However, standing in line for registration, I noted that the tourists were aged 60+. Many of the passengers onboard were...
We had first visited the island of Saint Croix, in the US Virgin Islands, 3 years ago. Firstly, I must honestly admit that I was not prepared for this cruise, uh . . .  Before the trip I had time to read that it would be better to rent a car and drive around the island. But we didn’t want...
So, we returned onboard the " ADVENTURE of the SEAS ". The liner that was next to ours had already sailed away. We departed at 5.30 p.m. The  island of St. Thomas  was left behind. And we went to have dinner. The menu was the same as the previous liner ...
We came to the beach near  Ocean Park . You can see the aquarium from the beach. Wonderful shady beach. There were detached stones in the water on the right side. There were so many fish! Bright like in an aquarium!  People crowded near those stones with masks and snorkels....
At 2.30 p.m., we fed the stingrays in the outdoor pool. Everyone has the chance to participate! Those who wanted to were given pieces of fish.  There were not many people. Stingrays hid in the shadows. It turns out they tan in the sun. And being tanned means they are easily spotted by...
At 2 p.m. in  Coral World Ocean Park  , there was a show performed by sea lions.  There were aquariums in the pavilion where the entertainment takes place. What a moray! The aquariums showed what happens at the bottom of the sea as a result of human activity... And...