Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

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Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Tortola, British Virgin Islands

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by The Goof

“Arrrrrgh! Tar-TO-la!” Hollywood-style pirates aside, Tortola and its fellow British Virgin Islands are home to some of the poshest resorts and most prized beaches and yachting waters in the Caribbean. Tortola is just a stone’s skip from St. Thomas and St. John, and the nearby islands of Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda are easy day trips for Disney cruisers.

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AMBIENCE

Clear, sheltered, turquoise waters; verdant, mountainous slopes; legendary beaches, countless yacht anchorages (each, it seems, with a legendary bar), and a small, friendly population make the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) particularly popular with the sailing and luxury resort crowds. However, a visit by a couple of large cruise ships can overwhelm the small port of Road Town and the most commonly visited beaches. The small town environment does help keep away the Caribbean’s larger merchants, so what shopping and dining there is in Road Town has a local flavor. The biggest retail name may be Pusser’s, the local rum enterprise, which has dining/drinking/retail outposts all over the islands. The real pleasures of this port are out of town, whether you’re sunning, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, or sipping a potent Painkiller.

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HISTORY & CULTURE

Charted during Columbus’ Second Voyage, the British Virgin Islands were first settled by the Dutch privateer Joost van Dyk in the early 1600s. As at New York, the British soon moved in and took control. For many years the islands, poorly suited for agriculture, were of little interest to any but pirates and runaways, and that lawless reputation kept settlers away. Sugar plantations took root in the 1700s, but the plantation economy crashed in the mid-1800s after slavery was abolished. Prosperity arrived in the late 20th century when the islands became one of the world’s largest offshore business havens. The British Virgin Islands are British Overseas Territories (formerly known as Crown Colonies).

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FACTS

Size: 12 mi. long (19 km.) x 3 mi. wide (5 km.)
Climate: Subtropical Temperatures: 84°F (29°C) to 90°F (32°C)
Population: 18,000 Busy Season: November to February
Language: English Money: U.S. dollar accepted (yes, it's the official currency)
Time Zone: Atlantic (DST observed) Transportation: Walking, taxis, and cars
Phones: Dial 911 for emergencies

Note: This island sustained enormous devastation which cut off electricity and gas, and damaged the port, after Hurricane Irma passed over on September 6, 2017. Disney Cruise Line is set to return to the island in late August 2018 after a lengthy absence.

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Top Photo Slice: Approaching Tortola (℗ 53424) Photo contributed by © Jennifer Marx



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