13 Dec 2017
Our final port of call was St Thomas arriving in the capital port of Charlotte Amalie. St Thomas and the other two main islands in USVI, St John and Saint Croix were purchased from the Danes in 1917. This was part of a defensive strategy to protect the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during WWI. Like most of the islands in the Caribbean, these have a very interesting history. A short version can be viewed here.
We decided to tour St John, which is the smallest of the three but is home to the Virgin Islands National Park. St John was reached by a 45-minute ferry ride from the capital. The park occupies about 60% of the island and is noted for its tropical forest, clear waters and recreation options. Like so many of the islands in the area, these were devastated by the multiple hurricanes strike in 2017. Our crew on the ferry let us know how happy they were to see the cruise ships return so they could keep their jobs and not have to return to the mainland USA. They live in St Thomas and still have no running water or electricity in their area. Many people lost their homes and their source of income. Recovery is still ongoing but clearly tourists are a big part of the recovery here. The boat ride provided a wonderful view of the islands.
Our ferry docked across the cay from the headquarters of the National Park service. As we entered the harbor we began to see some of the damage caused by the hurricanes. We would see a lot more as we toured the island.
Our guide and driver also expressed how glad everyone was to see the cruise ships back. He indicated to us that a large portion of the residents of the island had left due to loss of homes and work. He was a great tour guide and driver on these narrow, steep and often rough roads thru the mountains. We saw many of the beautiful areas the island is noted for. A number of the resorts and recreation areas remained closed due to damage. We stopped above the most popular boat anchorage on the island that would normally be full at this time of year with a waiting list. Today there was only one lone sailboat to be seen, but our guide was hopeful that they would be returning soon. Our guide made the tour very informative and entertaining. He received a generous tip from everyone.
The ferry ride back to the Regal Princess provided fading light view of the area.