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Getting To Know St Kitts – Cruise Port Guide
St. Kitts can offer everything for the cruise ship aficionado. It has great beaches, fun and exhilarating activities like hiking trails and zip lining in the rainforest, shopping both international duty free and local crafts, history, culture and cuisine. The hardest part will be deciding what to do for the day and that’s where our St Kitts cruise port guide comes to your rescue.
St. Kitts was once the jewel in the crown of the British West Indies and its sugar industry was the most important of any of the Caribbean islands, regardless of who they belonged to. Whilst sugar has been replaced with tourism as the most important industry, it still plays an important role in offering wonderful experiences for visitors. The main attractions here are the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, first constructed to help bring the building materials for the construction of the new sugar factory in 1912, then between that year and 1926 the railway was extended around the island to be able to transport the harvested sugar cane to be processed and then shipped from Basseterre. Today the railway extends for 18 miles around the north of the island on a narrow gauge of 762mm and offers visitors the best way to see as much of the island of St. Kitts as possible.
Then there is Brimstone Hill Fortress, arguably the most impressive colonial fortress in the Caribbean. During the colonial era when the British and French fought over sovereignty of the island, the British decided that they would mount canons on the 800 foot high dormant volcanic cone with panoramic views over the west coast and Caribbean Sea. The hill was transformed into an imposing fortification, commonly known as ‘The Gibraltar of the West Indies’ Designed by British engineers and built by African slaves, it is now one of the most well preserved historical fortifications in the Americas. In 1999, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park was added to the list of World heritage sites by UNESCO. For anyone interested in history in the slightest, this should be top of your to do list here on St. Kitts and it is very easy to access with taxis from the port.
The currency of St Kitts and Nevis is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar which is set against the US Dollar at a rate of 2.7XCD to 1 USD. US Dollars are widely accepted currency across the island, however, just make sure when asking for prices you check what it is you are being quoted in or what is being displayed, especially when negotiating with taxi drivers, or when dining in restaurants.
Port Zante is the main cruise area for the island and grants visitors direct access to the town of Basseterre. Port Zante is a commercial area that has several piers to accommodate large cruise ships. Once through the yellow arches of the tourist centre that welcome you, and where you can find tourist information and the licensed taxi dispatchers, you are greeted with and open-air shopping area, fully equipped with duty free shops, jewellers and fairly quirky souvenir shops. There are also restaurants and bars that offer Wi-Fi and reasonable food options more suited to international tastes.
If you wish to go on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, you should know before you go that it can only be experienced by purchasing through your onboard cruise ship excursions offer. It cannot be done independently on the day you will be in port and cannot be booked with independent tour operators as the train company work exclusively with the cruise lines, so check availability and prices with your on-board shore excursion department.
Travelling up the west coast from Basseterre to Brimstone Hill takes approximately 30 minutes by taxi which would cost $50USD round trip, which is up to 4 people sharing a taxi. Entrance to the fortress costs $10USD per person ($27ECD) and it is open daily from 9:30AM-5:30PM
You can visit the neighbouring sister island of Nevis, although ferry times are irregular, so make sure you check at the ferry terminal just outside Port Zante to ensure you can make it back to the ship on time. The sailing time from St Kitts to Nevis is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Destination photos courtesy of Sam Whiteside ©
Key highlights of St Kitts
- St Kitts Scenic Railway
- Brimstone Hill Fortress
- Romney Manor and Caribelle Batik Workshop
- The Amazing Grace Experience
- Fairview Great House and Botanical Garden
- Beaches, recommended ones include:
- Frigate Bay
- South Friars Bay
- Banana Bay
- Cockleshell Bay
- Day trip to Nevis
Regular cruise line visitors
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- P&O Cruises
- SAGA Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Viking Ocean
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