I am abit worried about timing my day in St Thomas. We are travelling with RCL and i wanted to take an organised excursion to St John. Do you think i will have enough time for shopping after the excursion?
You may want to venture out and get to St. Johns on your own, its really simple and it also saves a few dollars, just start out early in the morning and you will have plenty of time to get back to St. Thomas and shop either downtown or right by the pier.
First you grab a taxi at the port and take it too Red Hook ferry, they run every hour, once at St. Johns you'd need another taxi to Trunk Bay. Its well worth the trip over to St. Johns, its picture postcard beautiful. We did this on one cruise and even stopped back on ship for a quick lunch and change of clothes for some shopping, no problem. By going early you'll also miss all the tours that eventually end up at Trunk Bay and depending on how much time you stay there will depend on how much time you have to shop.
If your ships stops at St. John, it would be easiest to get off there, although they may
make you get a shore excursion to get off. Getting to St. John from St. Thomas is not difficult, but
it could eat up some of your time. First you could get a taxi from Charlotte Ama., then be taken
to Red Hook, and realize that the ferries leave at certain times. Also, to get back to St. Thomas,
you want to take the ferry that leaves closest to noon. By the time you take the taxi back, it
will be about 1:00 pm. That will give you plenty of time to shop.
One strategy I use is to circle the stores I want to go to on the little shopping map your ship
will give you after the port shopping talk. Locate the store on the map. This will save you a lot of time and you won't get back to the ship and realize that you missed a store.
Post here if you have any questions or if you would like me to e-mail you.
It depends which shore excursion you take. Princess offers a shore excursion called the "Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John" in which a catamran picks you up at the pier, takes you to a secluded beach with a nearby reef on St. John for swimming and snorkeling, serves lunch, and brings you back to the pier. It usually returns between 3:00 and 3:15, which leaves two hours for shopping or whatever else you want to do in Charlotte Amilie. Transportation to St. John by other means is a bit more complicated since you have to do the taxi/ferry/taxi drill and you may lose time either way if your connections don't work out too well. The best advise, though, is to check the scheduled time of return on your shore excursion (if all else fails, add the maximum scheduled duration to the time of departure) to see how much time you will have left for shopping.
Norm is correct about the on your own Taxi/Ferry/Taxi to St. John's. We did this in March, leaving the ship at 9 a.m. only to have our van taxi driver want to wait to fill up his van! Thus this made us late to the ferry dock (just missed it!) and we had to wait in line in the hot sun for the next boat. Finally left Red Hook at 11 a.m.! Once at St. John's we found a Jitney tour, but again had to wait for the rest of the group that had requested a tour, too. Our driver was great and the 6 others were very nice people. As it turned out it rained off and on while touring the island so it was good to be under cover and still be able to view the many picturesque areas of this island. We had been to Trunk Bay previoulsy and as the day was not a beach day, the tour worked well. We took the next ferry back which was going to Charlotte Amalie (therfore we could shop downtown) but mid way across the rough seas, the boat turned around and we were told we were going back to St. John's as there was mechanical trouble with the boat! Again, we had to wait to get on another ferry after much haggling on the pier (to Red Hook as that boat was in port) and we finally got back after 3 p.m. Later my hubby told me he smelled smoke on the 1st. ferry. I just shopped at Havensight Mall when we got back, which has many of the same stores and less people traffic!
I took the ships tour (HAL) to St.John's to go snorkeling. Had no trouble. Had a good time without all the scheduling problems mentioned above. The tour boat picked us up right at our ship and motored us from Charlotte Amalie to Cruz Bay St. Johns. There the jittney picked us up and took us to Trunk Bay for a 1 1/2 hour swim, then the boat ride back to Charlotte Amalie. Sure you can do it on your own, but for me, I"m on vacation and I don't want to go through the hassel of racing the clock to meet other's schedules. I got back in time to have lunch on the ship and hit the stores for some serious shopping. The $10 or $20 dollars extra it may have cost me did not interrupt the great time I was having.
we took the st. john snorkel tour-- and were back with enough time to shop right at the pier-- unless you are really into shopping, there is no need to go into town. THis was with RCCL-- most of t he st. john trips left in t he morning. Any sailing trips take longer.