Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, USVI
Position: 18:20.204N 64:55.661W
Date: Wednesday 12th March 2014
Wednesday morning we decided to move closer to the capital of St Thomas, Charlotte Amalie. We motored around Hassel Island and up into the large bay lying in front of the attractive town. It was a magnificent harbour with lots and lots of room to anchor.
We went ashore to look around and find somewhere to use the internet. Parts of the town are still attractive containing some historic buildings dating from the time when the island was held by Denmark. But it is clear that the town’s major purpose these days is to cater to the hordes of cruise ship passengers that pass that way. On our first day ashore there were 4 cruise ships in town and there were large crowds everywhere we went.
I’ve never been on a cruise so I don’t know what people do on the ships, but looking around at the shops in Charlotte Amalie you could be pardoned for coming to the impression that once ashore they do nothing else but buy jewellery. I have never seen so many bling emporiums in one place before. If you bought a new piece of glitter every day of the year, and each was bought in a different shop then there would still be jewellery shops in the town that you had not visited.
And the sheer commercial inventiveness used to part customers from their money could even teach Michael O’Leary of Ryanair a lesson or two. We visited one bar that was advertising wi-fi. The prices were high, of course, and the waitresses expected a tip which as a proportion would be considered scandalous in Europe, of course, but they had even outsourced their toilets. A sign pointing to Restrooms lead you outside the bar to a separate business that offered toilet facilities, for a fee, of course.
Local taxi drivers can spot someone from off-island almost immediately and automatically assume that you must be off a cruise ship. So as you walk around town you are constantly asked if you want a taxi back to your ship. So if anyone wants to buy me a birthday present I would like to have a ‘T’ shirt with the following words printed boldly on the front: “No I do NOT want a taxi back to my ship”.
The old fort in downtown Charlotte Amalie: