Category Cruising Eastern Caribbean
The Danish West India and Guinea Company took control of St. John in 1694 and the first plantation was established in Coral Bay. After 15 years, 101 plantation houses had been built to house 208 white settlers, who controlled 1,087 black slaves. The large number of slaves is not remarkable considering the history of the Caribbean as a whole.
A large number of slaves on St. John were originally from the African Amina tribe, who believed tilling the land was women’s work and therefore humiliating. Slaves were forbidden at dances, feasts and plays, and a slave caught in town after curfew faced severe punishment. During the year of 1733, a hurricane, a drought and an invasion by insects worsened the situation by making food scarce. Plantation owners refused rations to the already half-starved slaves, who banded together in desperation to secure their freedom.
At dawn on Sunday, November 13,1733, slaves entered Fort Berg at Coral Bay carrying bundles of wood as part of their usual routine. Once inside, the slaves whipped out cane knives hidden in the wood and killed all the soldiers except one, who hid under a bed. The victorious slaves fired a cannon as a prearranged signal to the other slaves on the island. The entire island fell into the hands of angry slaves who burnt the sugarcane fields and killed entire white families during their rampage.
Trunk Bay, St. John.
Fearing a spread of the revolt, the British sent troops from Tortola and St. Kitts and the French sent two warships from Martinique to fight the slaves in the hills of St. John. The rebels lasted until mid-May when, realizing they were hopelessly outnumbered, they gathered for one last feast in a ravine near Annaberg. After the meal the slaves committed ritual suicide rather than return to a life they detested.
Today, the island of St. John enjoys a peaceful small-town atmosphere, and more than 60% of the land is designated as a US national park. Tourism is being handled with a conservative approach by the locals, who are trying to retain their quiet community and to protect the natural beauty of the island, while still earning a living. The resorts are low key and the shopping areas are quaint, with little of the hustle and bustle found on St. Thomas. Repeat visitors to St. Thomas sometimes choose to enjoy the solitude of St. John during their time in port. (See Self-Guided Tours.)
“he protected harbor at St. Thomas and its strategic location on the trade routes to the New World attracted a wide assortment of settlers. The social melting pot of the islands was similar to that of America, but the dominant contributors to island culture were African slaves imported to work the sugar plantations.
Islanders today are a gracious but cautious people who cherish their privacy. They may seem reserved, but their congenial nature reveals itself when visitors smile and are friendly. Their fun-loving disposition is most apparent during Carnival, with its calypso music, parades and the traditional symbol of Carnival, Mocko Jumbies. These dancing figures on 17-foot stilts are dressed in bright colors and covered in mirrors. The spirit is invisible, so when you look at a Mocko Jumbie, you see yourself in the mirrors, not the spirit. The roots of Carnival go back to African slaves arriving in the islands. Their dances, called bamboulas, were based on ritual worship of the gods of Dahomey. The ritual was channeled by Christian missionaries into Carnival, with parades, costumed bands, beauty pageants, music and dance.
As an unincorporated Territory of the United States, the US Virgin Islands sends a non-voting delegate to the US House of Representatives; its natives are US citizens, but they do not vote for the US President and Vice President. The ruling government is modeled after the US government, with three branches – Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The Governor is elected every four years, the 15 Senators are elected every two years and the taxes collected within the islands are kept for use by the local government.
he official tourist board website for both islands is a colorful site with lots of pictures and good links to activities and historic sites, including names and phone numbers of guides. The diving and snorkeling pages describe dive sites in detail, complete with pictures of sea life. Visit it at www. stkittsnevis. com.
A very clever site you should check out is www. nevis1.com, which has some great links to places on Nevis. Be sure try out the recipes!
Sun N Surf Internet Cafe sits just off the Circus in the TDC Mall on Fort Street (downstairs). Open from 9 am to 8 pm. You can access email while enjoying one of Mrs. Ottley’s delicious cakes and pastries. n 869-465-1998; sunsurfcafe@caribsurf. com
ruise ships arriving in St. Kitts will now be welcomed at the new Cpier adjacent to the Pelican Mall shopping complex in downtown Basseterre. The facility, completed in 1997, will allow larger ships to dock in Basseterre, which is very convenient for exploration of the island and the capital of St. Kitts.
Pelican Mall offers a variety of shops, a bank, post office and the islands tourism bureau for visitor information. The ferry that runs passengers to Nevis, the Caribe Queen, also operates from the same pier area.
The AT&T Direct long distance service can be reached by calling n (800) 872-2881 from St. Kitts when using an AT&T credit card. An international operator assists in making collect calls, which may be more expensive here than on other islands.
The Cable & Wireless Company offers a special phone number to use for calling the States. Dial 1-800-255-5872 (CALL USA) to make collect calls, or to make credit card or US calling card calls. Voice instructions guide you through the procedure.
The area code for St. Kitts and Nevis is 869, and it’s a long-distance phone call from the United States.
The Eastern Caribbean dollar, tied to the US dollar at approximately EC $2.65 to S $1, is widely used in St. Kitts. Taxi drivers and touroper-
ators often quote their rates in US dollars, so be sure to ask which currency is being used. Most merchants price merchandise in EC, but gladly figure the exchange rate and accept US currency, traveler’s checks and credit cards.
You may get a better exchange rate at a bank or through your credit card company than with local merchants. If the cruise ship visits several islands using EC currency, consider cashing some traveler’s checks at a bank to secure the better rate. Banks in Basseterre are located in the Pelican Mall and TDC Mall off Fort Street leading away from the Circus. Bank hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 3 pm, Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturday from 8:30 am to 11 am.
There are postal facilities at the Pelican Mall and the St. Kitts Post Office is just next door in downtown Basseterre. It opens from 8 am to 3 pm daily, except Thursday, when it closes at 11 am. St. Kitts and Nevis both produce stamps bearing their island’s name. To send an airmail postcard from either island costs about US 20^. (Remember, US postage is not accepted.) A great selection of St. Kitts collector’s issues are available at the Philatelic Bureau in the Pelican Mall. Also visit the Philatelic Bureau on Nevis, which is to the right of the ferry station, near the open-air market square.
Ask the cruise director or purser for a list of Guaranteed Stores before shopping. These businesses have a special arrangement with the cruise line to guarantee merchandise against defects through the duration of the cruise. If the item breaks or the passenger discovers a defect in the product during the remainder of the cruise, it can be returned to the store via the cruise director. Once the cruise director has returned the item, the passenger will receive a replacement item or a full refund. The arrangement between the cruise director and the store may differ slightly from ship to ship, but passengers receive extra protection when buying merchandise at one of these establishments.
Major Duty-Free Stores
The following chain stores are found in the major port areas and have virtually the same prices from port to port.
Diamonds International has stores on St. Thomas and St. Martin. It’s sister-store, Tanzanite International, on the same islands, is a great place to find the radiant blue-purple gemstone first discovered in East Africa in 1967.
Colombian Emeralds has stores on St. Thomas, Sint Maarten and St. Lucia. In ancient times, the emerald was believed to impart mystical insightto its wearerand thegreen colorwas a symbol of immortality. Today, emeralds can be more expensive than fine diamonds. More than 90% of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia. From collector quality to the finest investment quality, Colombian Emeralds brings stones direct from the mines and cutters to the buyer. All merchandise is guaranteed and Colombian Emeralds has a service office in Miami. Other gemstones, jewelry and the newest styles in designer watches are also offered.
Manufacturers and designers with a name to sell are earning greater profits by opening stores in outlet malls across America. With dutyfree status, the Caribbean has always been a favorite of outlet stores and the name-brand outlets can offer bargains that might astound their name-dropping customers.
Polo/Ralph Lauren offers a broad selection of casual clothing and accessories from the famous designer. Stores are found in Sint Maarten and Puerto Rico.
Driving is on the left, and most rental cars are American made with the steering wheel on the left. This makes life more difficult for American drivers. The roads on St. Thomas are not hard to navigate, but they were designed for smaller vehicles, not the industrial-sized vans the taxi drivers use. If you’re brave enough to attempt negotiating the sharp bends, remember to honk before entering a curve and be constantly aware of other cars!
The basic price for a four-wheel-drive jeep or small automatic is $50- $90 per day. The minimum age for renting a car is 25. A valid driver’s license is required and a credit card is needed for a security deposit. Collision insurance is necessary to protect you in the event of accidents on the winding roads.
A long-distance call from the US can secure a rental car in advance, but most agencies will have vehicles available in busy St. Thomas.
The area code for St. Thomas is 340, a long-distance call from the US.
Avis………………………………….. s (800) 228-0668 or 774-1468
Budget (Havensight Mall)………………………. s (800) 626-4516
Discount Car Rentals……………………………… s (877) 478-2833
(offers free pick up and delivery) info@discountcar. vi
L&L Jeep Rental (St. John)……………………………….. s 776-1120
Shops here feature locally handcrafted souvenirs unique to Guadeloupe. There’s a bookstore, cigar shop, cafe and bakery. Savvy shopkeepers here attempt to speak English, and their merchandise is always interesting. The French appreciate exotic jewelry (look for the word bijoux on shop signs), and on Guadeloupe this translates to unique jewelry created from seashells, coral, gems and gold. Don’t hesitate to buy a piece of jewelry, as you’re not likely to find its duplicate on the next island. Expect high prices attached to unique pieces.
The majority of duty-free stores are situated on Rue Frebaut, which leads away from the pier complex. Only a hardy shopper should confront the traffic-choked commercial district. If you decide to do so, plan your shopping from the cruise ship’s list of recommended stores. If you dislike city congestion, shop in the St. John Perse Complex, then take a taxi out of the city. Boutiques in the smaller beach towns are a better choice for leisurely shopping.
The open-air market where locals buy fresh fruits, vegetables and spices can be reached on foot heading right along the waterfront heading right to Victory Plaza (starting with your back to the ship). Caribbean-style open-air bazaars are lively and offer a glimpse into the French West Indian culture. Even if you’re not buying, take a walk around here.
Taxis wait at the pier, set to transport you on island tours and on trips to outer island attractions. Taxis either use meters in francs, or negotiate fares (regulated by the government) based on the whole taxi, which seats one to four people. The vehicles range from Mercedes – Benz cars to minivans, and the drivers take great pride in them. This is reflected in higher taxi rates.
Most taxi drivers do not speak fluent English, but they do attempt a few words for basic communication. Negotiating a taxi fare with drivers can be more difficult due to the language barrier, but be sure to establish a rate in francs or US dollars before entering the taxi. To
eliminate misunderstandings, use a notepad to write down the number and show it to the driver while negotiating. A half-day island tour costs US $90-$115, one to four persons.
Call for a taxi at э 20-74-74, 82-96-69 or 83-09-55. The following prices are one-way estimates based on distance. All
prices are in US dollars.
TOC o "1-5" h z Destination Cost
from St. John Perse Complex one to four people
Carbet Falls……………………………………………………………………… $55
Pigeon Island…………………………………………………………………… $30
Due to the high cost of taxis fares, we highly recommend that you rent a car. Driving on Guadeloupe is on the right, easy for Americans. The roads and highways are well signed and they can be driven with the assistance of an island map.
You can rent a car at the airport by taking a taxi ($10) or call an agency prior to arrival and they will arrange to have a car waiting for you at the port.
ииф – TIP: When calling Guadeloupe, ask for someone who speaks English before trying to make arrangements. Most agencies at the airport employ English-speaking clerks.
Daily rentals range between $60 and $90, depending on the type of vehicle. A valid driver’s license is needed and agencies usually require a credit card to cover the damage deposit. When you pay for the car, be sure the agency writes the total amount on the credit card slip with to indicate euros.
French motorists drive very fast, so drive defensively. Don’t pull off the road in the rain forest unless there is a cleared parking area covered with gravel. Grassy areas are always soft and muddy; unknow
ing tourists can easily get stuck. The agency should provide you with a map.
To call Guadeloupe, dial 590 (the international access code), 590 (the country code), then the local phone number.
Blue Carib (free delivery)………………………………… n 24-68-54;
Avis…………………………………… n 82-02-71 or (800) 821-2847;
B&B Grande Remise (chauffeured limos)…. n 83-56-08
Budget_____ n 21-13-49 or (800) 472-3355 or 626-4576;
Hertz………………. n 82-00-14, 82-88-44 or (800) 654-3131;
Thrifty………………………………. n 91-55-66 or (800) 367-2277
Although Old San Juan contains many jewelry stores, the prices are much better on St. Thomas and St. Martin. If Puerto Rico is your first stop, use these jewelry stores to check prices, but don’t expect great bargains.
The best buys in Old San Juan are local crafts and rum. The Bacardi Rum distillery (see Self-Guided Tours) sells rum at a discount. (Remember, there is no Customs limit on Puerto Rican liquor when flying into the US.) Handmade lace, fabrics, musical instruments, hammocks, cigars and Santos figures (sculptures representing patron saints) are sold at the artisan markets at La Casita at Plaza Darsenas near Pier 1. Crafts are also available at Convento de los Domincos at 98 Calle Norzagaray, which houses the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. The center sells baskets, masks, guitars, santos and Indian artifacts. The small shop at the Museo de las Americas sells authentic folk crafts.
The following stores in the areas around Calle Cristo and Calle Fortaleza are special.
Spanish colonial mansions were often designed with massive walls built right up to the street and an interior courtyard, allowing private enjoyment of the mild climate. Current owners have turned these old residences into shaded mini-malls, where you’re encouraged to wander, absorb the ambience of Old San Juan and view ever-changing boutiques and shops. Prudent shoppers can find upscale merchandise at reasonable prices. Refreshments may be a priority after the heat of the day, and small cafes are sure to tempt you.
Spicy Caribbee, 154 Calle Cristo, has Caribbean handicrafts plus a good selection of Puerto Rican teas, spices, herbs and coffee.
^ Galeria Botello, 208 Cristo, specializes in local and Latin American artists, with many unique pieces by its founder, Angel Botello. The gallery is housed inside a beautiful colonial mansion, nearly 200 years old. The roof is supported by giant beams and the floor is paved with the original antique bricks.
Also found on Calle Cristo are a Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Coach Factory Store, Pusser’s Factory Store and Tommy Hilfiger Company Store.
Island residents use a local bus system for travel between Philipsburg and Marigot. The fare is only $2 per person, with various stops along the road. However, the same type of vehicles (minivans) are used for buses and for taxis. If you are unsure whether a minivan is a locals bus, simply ask the driver. Some drivers will wait to fill the bus before departing, but after a short delay passengers will be on their way to the French capital, for very little money.
To find a locals bus in Philipsburg, look for "Bushalt" signs only on Back Street, one block away from the water (and Front Street). In Marigot, the signs are written in French, so look for "Arret" signs for
the buses to Philipsburg. The drivers will let you off anywhere you request, but when paying the fare be sure to have small change or dollar bills.
For a trip to Marigot, the local buses are the easiest and cheapest way to travel. The bus stops are easy to find and buses are frequent.
Driving is on the right in St. Maarten and roads are well marked and in good condition. If you’re interested in renting a car for the day, contact an agency prior to arrival. Most rental agencies have established their offices at the airport, so if you decide to rent a car after you arrive, you’ll need to take a taxi out to Juliana Airport. If you call ahead, the rental agency may make arrangements to deliver the car near the pier area. Hertz has rental cars at the cruise ship dock, and has a website specifically for cruise ship passengers to make reservations, www. piercars. com.
The basic price for a full day’s rental is $30-$45 for either automatic or stick-shift vehicles. Agencies require a current driver’s license and a credit card fora rental deposit. If your ship docks at A. C. Wathey Pier, ask the rental agency if it’s possible to drop off the car on the pier at the end of the day.
To call St. Maarten from the US, dial 011 (the international access code), then 599 (the country code), then dial 5 (the area code) and finally the local number.
Avis……………………………… n (800) 228-0669; www. avis. com
Budget…………… n (800) 786-2277; www. budget-sxm. com
www. st-louis-car-rental. com Thrifty n (786) 866-2865
SHAPE * MERGEFORMAT