Category Cruising Eastern Caribbean

Customs Regulations

Duty-free merchandise is only free of duty imposed by the country where the goods are purchased. Foreign-made electronics, jewelry, alcohol, cigarettes, linens and perfumes may be subject to a US duty when returning home.

Before leaving on a cruise, educate yourself on duty regulations and take care to keep sales slips and record all purchases on your declara­tion to Customs if they exceed duty restrictions.

Regulations can change at any time. We suggest you order a pam­phlet entitled Know Before You Go, which provides specific informa­tion and the latest restrictions. Contact US Customs Service, PO Box 7407, Washington, DC 20229 for the pamphlet or view it on-line at www. customs. ustreas. gov, then click on the "Know Before You Go" section to access the on-line information.

ф If you have been out of the country in a 30-day period before leaving on your cruise, you are limited to a $200 duty-free exemption on purchases. You also cannot combine family purchases for a larger allotment.

ф Foreign-made items (cameras, watches, etc.) are duti­able any time you reenter the US with the item, unless you have proof of prior purchase. Carry your bills of sale, insurance policy, appraisal or register items in per­son with a Customs office prior to your departure.

ф If you have not been out of the country during the 30- day period prior to cruising, you are allowed $800 in foreign purchases for personal use or gifts, one liter of alcohol (for family members at least 21 years old), 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes (one carton) per person dur­ing any 30-day period. Purchases over the limit may be subject to a 10% duty tax upon clearing US Customs. Cuban cigars are prohibited unless you are returning di­
rectly from Cuba or it is included on your ship’s itiner­ary. At any rate, Cuban purchases are limited to $100 of total merchandise. Gifts not exceeding a value of $100 per day may be sent from foreign ports to friends and relatives in the US. You may ship $200 of gifts from the U. S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, St. John or St. Croix.

ф Family members traveling together can combine their duty allotments (except for liquor allowances if children are under 21 years of age).

ф Items purchased from Caribbean Basin countries have a duty allotment of $600 per person (the maximum for other foreign countries is $800). When visiting these countries and other foreign countries be sure that your combined purchases are not more than $800, with $600 maximum spent in Aruba, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbuda, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gre­nada, Guatemala, Guyana Honduras, Jamaica, Mont­serrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.

ф When visiting the US Virgin Islands, the duty-free allot­ment is increased to $1,200 per person, plus one extra bottle of liquor (if it is made in the US Virgin Islands) and an extra 800 cigarettes (five cartons) only when pur­chased in the US Virgin Islands. Passengers who buy merchandise in the US Virgin Islands as well as benefi­ciary countries (see chart) and other foreign ports must deduct the amount purchased in the other ports, not exceeding $600 (including onboard purchases) from the total $1,200 allowed from the US Virgin Islands.

ф Be absolutely sure to list all items you purchased on your declaration form – any undeclared items may be confiscated. The duty paid on the first $1,000 of goods purchased over the limit from the U. S. Virgin Islands is taxed at a flat rate of 1.5%. The tax is 3% on the first $1,000 purchased over the limit on other islands and onboard ship. You can pay the duty in U. S. currency, by personal check (with a valid ID) and, in some locations, by major credit card. Foreign currency is not accepted.

ф Goods mailed for personal use can be imported duty­free if the total value is no more than $200. (This exemp­tion does not apply to perfume containing alcohol val­

ued at more than $5 retail, alcoholic beverages or to tobacco products.)

ф Items made in the US Virgin Islands, including locally made jewelry, are considered duty-free when returning to the US. Items purchased in Puerto Rico are duty-free and not added to other purchase allotments due to Puerto Rico’s status as an American Commonwealth.


Sea Trekkin’ and SNUBA are both offered at Coral World. SNUBA divers use a light harness, fins and mask with air hoses directly attached to the mask; the hose leads to an air tank that floats on the water’s surface. Sea Trekkers use a dive helmet that’s tethered to a raft at the surface for air. Even first-time divers safely experience the thrill of de­scending to a maximum of 20 feet underwater for a 30- or 40-minute dive session. Divers at Coral World are allowed to feed the fish that always show up for a handout. The cost of Sea Trekkin’ is $68/adult and $59/child age 8-12, and can be scheduled at www. coralworld. com. SNUBA costs $59/adult and $57/child under 12. э (340) 693-8063 or fill out an e-mail reservation at www. visnuba. com. Book well ahead for either of these popular attractions. Costs in­clude an entrance pass ($18) to Coral World. SNUBA is also available on St. John when visiting the Virgin Islands Na­tional Park.

Corel World, St. Thomas.

The unique Underwater Observatory on the edge of the park extends 20 feet below the sea, affording live ocean views. Several times a day, a scuba diver feeds the marine creatures in their natural environment while you watch.

To learn more about the park visit the Coral World website at www. coralworldvi. com. The park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and entrance fees are $18 for adults and $9 for children (three-12 years old). A family pass (covering two adults and up to four children) is available for $52. If you plan to spend time at Coki Beach, rent a locker for $3 per day (with a refundable security deposit). Snorkel equipment and underwater cameras are offered for rent at the Coki Dive shop, and taxis are always available for rides back to town or to other island attractions.


Osle Of Flowers

Island Description

heCarib Indians called Martinique "Madinina," meaning Isle of Flowers. The people endeavor to protect the lush atmosphere for which their island was named. Martinique is the larger of the two French islands, elongated in shape with two large natural har­bors. The largest port at Fort-de-France, the capital, is always filled with yachts, sailboats and visiting cruise liners.


Подпись: MARTINIQUEThe second harbor, along with the most beautiful beaches, are at the southernmost point on the island near Sainte-Anne. A volcano and rain forest are at the northern end of the island, near St. Pierre, while the island’s center consists of several mountain masses linked by hills called "mornes." The mountains make the roads steep, winding and lined with lush tropical foliage, which makes the drive most enjoy­able. The coastline, perfect for fishing and boating in the calm Carib­bean waters, has been Martinique’s main asset. St. Pierre was known as the Paris of the West Indies until it was destroyed in a vol­canic eruption by Mont Pelee in 1902. Today, the village is charming and just as beautiful, although chilling reminders of the natural disaster have been preserved.

Two sites unique to Martinique are the birthplace of Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, and the site where the French painter Gauguin lived for five months in 1887. A special museum commemorates each his­torical figure.


artinique residents take national holidays seriously and close /Yrtheir businesses sometimes half a day before the scheduled holiday. Taxis and tours are always available when cruise ships are in port, but shopping may not be an option on national holidays. At Carnival time, businesses close for five days.

Annual Holidays & Events

For more details and precise dates, contact the island tour­ist board (see Appendix).

January. . . New Year’s Day; Three King’s Day or Epiphany

February…………….. Carnival; Mardi Gras (peak of Carnival,

parades & street dances); Ash Wednesday

April…………………………………. Easter Sunday; Easter Monday;

Aqua Festival Du Robert (festival of the sea)

May…………….. Labor Day; Slavery Abolition Day; Ascension

Thursday; Pentecost Monday; in St. Pierre a month-long program of theater, dance, music & art commemorating city history

July……………………… Bastille Day; Festival of Fort-de-France,

a program of theater, dance, music and art commemorating the city’s history

August………………………………………………………. Assumption Day

November…………… All Saint’s Day (tombstones illuminated

with candles);Armistice Day (fireworks); Semi-Marathon, a 22-km race; International Guitar Festival during the last part of the month December. . . Christmas Eve (dancing, revelry); Christmas

Caffe Fortaleza

The Butterfly People, 152 Calle Fortaleza, upstairs; www. butter – flypeople. com. This unique store will delight you with its incredible murals made entirely from shimmering butterflies protected by plexiglass. Classical music entices browsers to spend hours appreci­ating the exquisite creations. All displays are for sale, but photogra­phy is not permitted. The butterflies have been bred especially for the purpose of art. A charming cafe on the same level offers cool fruit drinks and light cuisine.

El Alcazar (just off Calle Fortaleza at 103 San Jose Street) is an antique store featuring a fine collection of old handmade Santos fig­ures. True collectors appreciate the special Santos offered by this shop, regardless of the seemingly high prices.

^ Puerto Rican Arts & Crafts, 204 Calle Fortaleza, could qualify as an art museum. It contains the best work by Puerto Rican artisans. Ele­gant Santos, delicate pottery, handmade dolls in island costume, masks, jewelry, tile scenes, hammocks and paintings are for sale. Open 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, plus noon to 5 pm on Sundays from November to January.

The Haitian Gallery at 367 Calle Fortaleza carries Puerto Rican crafts, folksy gifts and inexpensive paintings from around the Caribbean.

Bareds, at the corner of Calle Fortaleza and Calle San Justo, is a chain with stores throughout Old San Juan. They carry Lalique, Lladro, Waterford, Swarovski crystal, Gucci watches and stylish fine jewelry, as well as other imported items like those found in the Little Switzer­land stores on other Caribbean islands.

The Hard Rock Cafe, 253 Recinto Sur Street, one block north of the Tourist Information Center, is where to go for Hard Rock Cafe memo­rabilia. Walk downhill from Fortaleza Street on San Justo and turn left on Recinto Sur. Open daily, 11 am-2 am.



Old San Juan has one of the largest port areas in the Caribbean and taxi stations are situated at each and every docking terminal. Under the new Tourism Taxi Program, taxis are painted white, bearing the new sun logo. There’s no need for a taxi to explore Old San Juan, but if you want to see more of San Juan, the capital, a taxi is a must. Taxis are metered for trips around San Juan, with a $6 minimum fare. The price shown on the meter is for the whole taxi, regardless of the number of people. Prices for an island tour can be negotiated with the taxi driver. The majority of taxi drivers speak English and will be more than willing to bargain. All prices are given in US dollars.

Taxi Chart



(from the cruise ship pier)

(one to four people)


$16 (plus 50^ per bag)

Condado Plaza. . .

…………………………… $10

Isla Verde……………..

…………………………… $16

Taxi charter………….

……….. $20 (per hour)

Tipping taxi drivers is customary, approximately 10% of the fare. It is not necessary to arrange a pick-up time with a taxi driver if passen­gers are taking in the sights around San Juan. Taxis can be found at any large hotel, or flagged down on any busy street.

Mountain Biking

Frog Legs provides guided mountain bike tours, a great way to expe­rience this small coral island (if you are fit enough to try). Tour #1 ($39 per person, three hours, 5% climb) is an easy trail around the Guichard Pound, with a stop at Friar’s Bay Beach Cafe. Tour #2 ($39 per person, two hours, 30% climb) is tougher, but it’s a beautiful trail on private land overlooking Simpson Bay lagoon. Tour #3 is moder­ate. It starts at the Marigot Museum for a history lesson, then travels by the seashore to Grand Case to an archeologic site at Hope Estate to view Arawak Indian ruins ($44 per person, four hours, 10% climb). For reservations, э 590-87-05-11; frog. legs@wanadoo. fr.

Bike rentals are available at Simpson Bay for $22/day.


ne of the longest beaches on the island is at Mullet Bay. The CO beach is perfect for swimming, snorkeling or simply sunbathing. The Mullet Bay Resort that stood here was destroyed by a hurricane and has yet to re-open. However, the golf course remains open and the exceptional beach is less crowded. A taxi ride from downtown Philipsburg or A. C. Wathey Pier will take 20 minutes and cost $16 per couple.






Scuba Diving

Wave Runners




Water Skiing


Mullet Bay

Baie Oriental

Baie l’Embouchure

Kim Sha Beach

Dawn Beach

Baie Orientale/Orient Bay is the most popular clothing-optional beach on the French side of the island. A taxi will take 30 minutes from either downtown or the A. C. Wathey Pier. It is not necessary to arrange a pick-up with the driver because taxis are available at the beach. Average fare is $18 per couple.

You may choose to bare all on the beach, but Orient Bay is also a top spot for swimming and watersports. Sea kayaks ($7/hour, $30/day), float pads ($6/day), Sunfish sailboats ($20/hour), Lazer sailboats ($30/hour), Hobiewave 13′ catamarans ($45/hour) and boogie boards ($12.50/day) are available for rent. If you are uncomfortable with the au nature! style, head for the stretch of sand on the left side of the shopping tents (these sell some of the best bathing suits on the island, as well as T-shirts). Unwritten rules of a nude beach are no photography and respect for one another’s space. Orient Bay also has two restaurants and restrooms ($1). Round-trip water taxi rides to Pinell Island cost $20 and to Green Key Island cost $12.50.

A nude full-day cruise on the Tiko Tiko costs $95 per person, and leaves daily except Sundays at 9:30 am. The price includes lunch (steak, chicken or mahi mahi), wine and drinks. Contact Dolphin Watersports at s (590) 590-872875 or (599) 557-8814, or visit www. cluiborient. com and click on "Dolphin Watersports."

^ Baie I’Embouchure, down the road from Orient Bay, is situated in a private cove. If you’re not interested in going to the nude beach, we recommend that you spend the day here. Tropical Wave, a wind­surfing and snorkeling operation based here has created a spectacu­lar snorkeling trail. Have lunch at the Beach Bistro (with restroom facilities).

Kim Sha Beach is across from Simpson Bay Lagoon and to the right of the Pelican Resort. Known more as a local’s beach, Kim Sha is an ever-changing area that is close to Philipsburg and has activities for every member of the family. It offers watersports, a beach for sun­bathing and a unique shopping area nearby. You can enjoy the beach, walkto the Pelican Resort for lunch or gambling in the casino, then browse through the shopping area across the street at Plaza de Lago.

A taxi ride here takes 20 minutes and goes over the mountain to reach Kim Sha Beach. If you’re traveling in a group, try bargaining for a lower-priced round-trip rate, which usually runs $15 per couple. Westport Watersports (no phone given), located on the beach, offers the most powerful Jet Skis on the island.

Jet Skis can be rented at Simpson Bay Lagoon for $70/hour, and a guided tour costs $75/hour or $120 for two hours. A kayaks tour
around the mangroves in Simpson Bay Lagoon takes five hours and costs $49 per person. Reserve Jet Skis or kayak tours at www. saint – martin-activities. com.

One of the best spots for rough ocean waves offshore and calm – water snorkeling near land is Dawn Beach. The pounding surf and frequent waves make swimming and surfing more enjoyable here than anywhere else on the island. A taxi can drop you off there ($15 per couple). It is only 15 minutes from Philipsburg, so you can spend a half-day shopping and enjoy the remaining time at the beach.

Recommended Tour Company

Another great company to work with is Spice Travel, which has a long list of excursions, offering helicopter tours for $120, a catama­ran snorkeling trip to Soufriere for $85, a tour to Pigeon Island for $35, a Frigate Island and garden tour for $65, and an Errard Planta­tion tour for $80. They will customize trips if you call ahead. Contact Spice Travel at s (758) 452-0865/0866, e-mail tthomm@candw. lc. Jump on-line to view their excursions atwww. casalucia. com (click on Spice Travel).


Beachside resorts are scattered all along the coast, so the sand is often packed with hotel guests, tourists, locals and sports enthusi­asts. The beach at Grand Anse is where you’ll find the Royal St. Lucian Hotel. This is one of the most popular beaches, with some­thing for everyone. A volleyball net and watersports are available; the long stretch of beach for sunbathers and beachcombers may remind some of Miami Beach. A 20-minute taxi ride for $12 (one to four people) from Castries or Pointe Seraphine takes you to the
entrance of the Royal St. Lucian Hotel and a walk through the prop­erty leads straight to the beach. The hotel has gift shops, restaurants and a beachside barbecue hut.






Scuba Diving

Wave Runners




Water Skiing


Grand Anse

Morgan Bay

Vigie Beach

Halcyon Beach

The St. James Club Morgan Bay Resort offers a stretch of private beach for its hotel guests. If you want to spend the day here, we highly recommend that you ask at the front desk if you can use the facilities. If you’re willing to have lunch at the hotel and use the beachside bar, you’ll be welcome at the resort and beach. Watersports, such as windsurfing, sailing, water skiing and snorkel – ing, are also available for a charge to non-hotel guests. The resort is only a 15-minute taxi ride from the pier ($10).

Vigie Beach, near the airport and Pointe Seraphine, is a five-minute taxi ride from the dock ($8). This is a long stretch of gray sand with no watersports or congestion from beachside resorts. The water is quite calm for swimming. It’s not the most popular beach on the island, offering a quiet location for those who prefer peace and tranquility. D’s Restaurant here serves the best island cuisine, and the water­front location makes this a great place for lunch.

A smaller but beautiful beach is at the Sandals Halcyon Beach Hotel. Only 10 minutes from Castries, Halcyon Beach is a white sandy stretch offering watersports and beachside facilities. A taxi there will cost $10. Many of the inland hotels around Castries send their guests to Halcyon Beach, so it can be crowded with sunworshippers.

The Pier


‘he majority of cruise ships arriving in St. Thomas will dock at the West Indies Dock at Havensight Pier, a short taxi ride from Char­lotte Amalie. Havensight can easily handle three to four ships at one time and the facilities have been designed for the comfort of cruise passengers. An entire shopping mall was built here so that cruisers can avoid the hassle of taxis and traffic. A directory is conveniently lo­cated at dockside and an information office is on the dockside end of Building One. Havensight Mall contains restaurants, a bank, a US postal van and a variety of shops. Some ships anchor offshore at Charlotte Amalie and offer tender service to take passengers ashore.

Pier Phones

The area code for St. Thomas is 340, a long-distance call from the US.

St. Thomas is a good place to make calls home by direct dialing to the mainland, using US long-distance cards or major credit cards. The service is excellent and the prices are more reasonable than on other islands. Telephones at Havensight are found in several spots: near docking area number 3; at the dockside end of Building Three; and on the street side of Building Four. If you are tendering into Charlotte Amalie, your nearest phones are next doorto the Visitor’s Bureau, left of Emancipation Park and along Main Street.

For information on using your cell phone in St. Thomas area, dial 6611. AT&T built a new state-of-the-art communication center across the street from Havensight, next to the Paradise Point Tram­way. It offers 15 desk booths for calls, fax and copy services, videophone and TDD (hearing impaired) equipment. Look for the white building with the blue logo.


As St. Thomas is given extra duty-free exemption by the US Customs (see page 24), many shoppers prefer to do the bulk of shopping here. Havensight is the largest and most modern shopping center in the islands. Generally, the mall shops remain open on holidays and many downtown stores such as Colombian Emeralds, Little Switzerland, Diamonds International, A. H. Riise, Cardow Jewelers, Bool – chands and H. Stern Jewelers have branches here. There are ATM machines, a pharmacy, photo developing, bookstore, music store, post office, dentist and doctors’ offices, too. Note that you can ship gifts home from St. Thomas, but be sure that the shipping charge does not exceed the 5% duty you might pay. In the mall, stores of note are Beverly’s, which offers handmade clothing, T-shirts, gold jewelry and chains by the inch, and The Draughting Shaft, which sells great cards, gift wrap and art.

The English Shop offers the largest selection of dinnerware in the Caribbean. It is one of St. Thomas’ oldest and most reliable import­ers, and carries the finest designer names in china and figurines. This store also accepts direct factory orders on all of the listed suppliers at duty-free prices 30%-50% less than Stateside. э (800) 524-2013, toll-free, to order.

Port of $ale is the newest and most colorful shopping destination on St. Thomas, featuring a variety of festive shops right on the cruise – ship dock at Havensight. A unique collection of outlet, discount, off – price and specialty Caribbean retailing, Port of $ale takes St. Thomas’ reputation for value shopping to new heights.

Pusser’s Closeout Store, across the street from Havensight Mall, features discontinued first quality Pusser’s Co. Store merchandise at tremendous savings (see A. H. Riise Mall).

An outlet of Bernard K. Passman is now located at Havensight Mall. This internationally known sculptor offers fantastic black coral and gold jewelry, including reproductions of famous Passman original sculptures. (See Specialty Stores, page 75.)

Water World Outfitters has been described by Skin Diver Magazine as "the best stocked dive shop in the Caribbean." The shop is also the starting location for Underwater Safaris diving operation’s sched­uled boat diving excursions. (See Diving.)

You can schedule a trip on the nearby Atlantis Submarine (see Organized Tours). The sub’s store contains high-quality fish sculp­
tures (not easily found on other islands), ocean-oriented gifts, books and videos and Atlantis Submarine T-shirts.

The newest attraction on St. Thomas is the Paradise Point Tram­way, across the street from the Havensight Mall Dock on Long Bay Road. Here, modern cable cars (similar to a ski lift) depart regularly on a spectacular seven-minute ride, landing 700 feet above sea level on a hill overlooking Havensight. The round-trip price is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children. Reservations are not necessary.

The tramway is probably the best place on St. Thomas to capture a photo of your cruise ship with the island as a backdrop, so don’t for­get your camera. At the top of the tram ride are tropical bird shows, interesting shops, a cafe and a bar offering tasty frozen concoctions. The highlights of the trip – other than incredible views – are the live parrots. Free bird shows are scheduled at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. Between shows you can have pictures taken with the colorful per­formers. The various retail shops stock souvenirs, batik clothing, art­work, antique coin jewelry, replica firearms and plenty of painted wooden parrots!