St. John Island Tour
A Disney Cruise Line Port Adventure Reviewby Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 06-20-2013
One of the things I love most about Disney cruising is getting to see new parts of the world that we haven't visited before.
I have to be honest, the Caribbean doesn't hold that much wonder for me, as I'm not really a beach person. I like to explore, learn about a place, see the architecture or the natural beauty, so as a result we haven't seen much of the area. We set that right on our most recent cruise to the Eastern Caribbean.
St. John Island Tour - Annaberg sugar plantation
The ruins of the Annaberg sugar plantation on St. John
One of our stops were the islands of St. Thomas and St. John in the US Virgin Islands, the busiest cruise ship port in the Caribbean, according to my trusty PassPorter. I wasn't overly enthused by the description of the place from my PassPorter, but there was one excursion that stood out from all the others, so I knew immediately what we'd be doing on our day in port.
The St. John Island Tour gets a rating of 9 out of 10 in PassPorter, and the write-up even points out that "cruiser reviews are uniformly positive." Well, with ratings like that, you can't go wrong. I also liked the idea that there were plenty of stops for photo opportunities throughout the tour, and that you get to see a lot of the island, so we booked up as soon as our booking window opened up.
The tour started with a short walk, and by short, I mean no more than a couple of minutes, walk to the boat that we'd be taking over to St. John. I knew there was a boat ride, but I had no idea how long it would take. I would estimate it was around 45 minutes. It's silly really, as it does say this on the Disney Cruise Line website, which emphasises the importance of doing your research beforehand. We did bounce around a bit out there, and I was glad for my sea sickness medication. If you are prone to motion sickness, be sure to take something before setting out on this boat trip, just to be on the safe side.
When we got to St. John, we boarded our “open-air safari bus”, as it’s described on the Disney Cruise Line website. In truth, although it was open air on the sides, we did have a covering above us, which is good just in case the weather wasn’t as perfect as the day we visited.
This tour really did take us around the island. We departed Cruz Bay, which appeared to be the biggest town on the island. We didn’t spend any time there on our tour, although we had time when the bus brought us back, so we visited the headquarters of the National Park Service, which is right by the boat dock, and some of the nearby shops.
Not long after we left the town, we were into National Park territory, as it takes up approximately half of the island. It was green, and lush, and although hot, it wasn’t too much to deal with, although we did visit in December. The tour has plenty of stops, and they all offer magnificent viewpoints, but the first really highlights to you just how many islands there are in the Caribbean. All we could see from our vantage point was a clear blue ocean in front of us, with green shoots of land poking out. It was just stunning, and exactly what you expect from the Caribbean.
I have nothing but praise for our driver, who I felt was an excellent guide, and a safe driver, but again for those who are prone to motion sickness, it’s probably just as well to have taken some medication before setting out on this tour, as the roads do twist and turn back on themselves. I can imagine if you have a driver who wasn’t as careful as ours that it might be a bit more of an unpleasant journey.
St. John Island Tour
One of St. John's beautiful beaches, as seen on the St. John Island Tour.
One of the stops on this tour is the former Annaberg Sugar Plantation, where you’re given 10 minutes to wander around the ruins. I thought it was the perfect amount of time, as there wasn’t that much to see, but once again, the views out to see were just breath taking.
Our next stop was Cinnamon Bay, where you again had adequate time to use the restrooms, before heading down to the beach. Some of our party even dipped their toes into the ocean, although a word of caution here, as at least one person came back with an injury from doing that. Once again, the views were just beautiful, and everything that I’d hoped to see in the Caribbean. Although the time we had for the stops was fine, part of me would’ve liked to have just stayed there all day, and looked at the scenery, as I don’t think I’d ever have got bored of the sight of white sand, clear blue sea, and lush green islands.
We had another couple of stops at various overlooks, and I loved the fact that every time we set off again, we got a lovely cool breeze from our open-sided vehicle. Whenever we stopped, you suddenly realised how hot it was.
As I mentioned, we had a bit of a wait to board our boat back to St. Thomas, but it was fine, as it allowed us some time to explore on our own before we departed. The journey back saw another treat, as we moored in a different spot, giving us the chance to pass by the Fantasy. From our small boat, it really brought home to you just how massive she is!
The St. John Island Tour really lived up to everything I'd read about it, and if you like to explore a destination, then this is a great choice for you. St. John is an absolutely beautiful island, and I'm so glad that we got to see it for ourselves.
Updated 06-20-2013 - Article #957
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
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