Monday, April 6, 2015

St. Thomas/St. John: Get Off The Boat Or Not?

   Our first Disney cruise last year on the Disney Magic had one port of call, Disney's private island Castaway Cay.  This was the part of the cruise we were looking forward to more than anything else.  On our most recent cruise however there were two additional stops along the way...and this really threw a wrench in our planning.   You see, we felt obligated to get off the gorgeous Disney Fantasy and explore a little, though we were super apprehensive about it.  What is there to do on these islands? Are they just tourist traps?  Why would we leave the comfort (foooood...) of the ship? Do we book excursions, or explore alone?  These island turned out to be a mixed bag.

   Our first stop was St. Thomas/St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  A quick google search will quickly lead you away from any time on St. Thomas, where the boat actually docks.  But being true investigators we also asked the Twitter community who also pointed us away from this giant tourist trap.  So that was that...we would head to St. John.
  Here is the problem with this plan: It takes forever to get from one island to the other.  And by forever, I mean like and hour and fifteen minutes.  I know the time does vary somewhat, but between the cab ride and the ferry, it seemed like forever.  Plus your time ashore is very limited.  Strike one USVI.   Also, the part of St. Thomas you travel through is FILTHY and not much to speak of.  Plus, they play Bob Marley everywhere which is just dreadful.

   Once you get to St. John take a big sigh of relief. This island is so beautiful its unreal.  However, to get anywhere of note you have to take a communal taxi/bus system which is super awkward to hail.  By the time we got to our destination at Cinnamon Bay half of the day was gone, and we had spent quite a bit of money to get there.

   Once at your chosen beach there are often plenty of things to do.  The wonderful thing about St. John is that 60% of the island is a national park, and vastly untouched.  There are plenty of hiking opportunities, if thats your thing.  We went for a walk along a self guided trail through the woods that took us 30 minutes total.  The plant life on the island was super cool, and something you'll miss out on unless you go into the interior a little.

Dutch graves in the middle of the forest. Super awesome. 

   The beaches of St. John are impeccable, the people are very friendly to tourists, and it is super clean compared to St. Thomas.  Since it takes so long to get to your destination, by the time you're there you have to turn around and head back to the ship. The trek is hardly worth the hour or so you will spend at a beach in St. John.  Its a shame because it seriously is gorgeous.

   One bright spot was finding St. John Brewers near Cruz Bay.  This small brewery has a little shop where you can buy cold beer.  I enjoyed a few of these in the little courtyard in front of the store.  Since Disney allows you to bring booze aboard this is a great time to stock up again.  Sadly their tasting room had burned down just days before our arrival.  I could see hunkering down on St. John to drink for a bit.  

   By the time we traveled back to the ship we were exhausted and ready for a nap...alas, it was pretty late in the day and time for our reservations at Palo.  Yikes.  I'm glad we got off the ship solely to have gained the knowledge that St. Thomas isn't for us, and St. John is too much of a hassle to get to. If we every have an itinerary that stops here again we will just enjoy the ship and its beautiful views. 
   Next week we will take a look at the other port of call on this trip...San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Trust me, very different outcome. 

   How do you feel about St. Thomas/St. John?  Do you think its worth the trek? Let us know over on Twitter of Facebook! Better yet: Tag us in a picture of yourself on a Disney Cruise with the hashtag #Disneyhipstermelange 


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