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Cruises to St. Kitts (Port Zante)

2 Awards
St. Kitts (Photo:mbrand85/Shutterstock)

About St. Kitts (Port Zante)

In 1493, Christopher Columbus was allegedly so smitten with this volcanic island that he named it after St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. Since its discovery, St. Christopher (later shortened by British sailors to St. Kitts) has been fought over by the British and French who, tragically, made it a center of the West Indian slave trade. Pirates, including the notorious William Kidd who was marooned on Nevis after his crew mutinied, enjoyed lucrative careers in Basseterre Harbor.

St. Kitts and sister isle Nevis were part of the British Empire until 1967, earning semi-independent status when they were named associated states of Great Britain. In 1983, the 68-square-mile St. Kitts and Nevis became an independent, two-island nation with a parliamentary government headed by a prime minister. While British holdovers such as cricket and driving on the left side of the road remain, the Kittitians are extremely proud of their history and how far they've come on their own.

The island's lush geography lends itself to eco-tourism, starting with the dense tropical rainforests that surround dormant volcano Mount Liamuiga. Colorful birds and butterflies, as well as the green vervet monkey, reside here.

Sugar cane, the staple of the economy since the 17th century, was St. Kitts' main export until production stopped just a few years ago. However, wild sugar cane fields remain, particularly in the west, and offer a scenic ambience that is more reminiscent of Hawaii than the Caribbean these days. While tourists have discovered St. Kitts (evidenced by the row of lively beach bars on South Frigate Bay, known as "The Strip"), the island is still relatively unspoiled and crowd-free, with a relaxed, authentic atmosphere.

  • Why go to St. Kitts (Port Zante)?

  • St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Port Facilities?

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Why go to St. Kitts (Port Zante)?

Pros:

The island is authentically Caribbean and replete with lush natural wonders and a relaxed vibe

Cons:

The port is full of touristy shops that could distract you from the less-commercialized areas just beyond

Bottom Line:

There are lots of attractions and activities to check out that are unique to St. Kitts

St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Port Facilities?

The Port Zante shopping complex offers the usual mix of souvenir shops and jewelry stores, including branches of Diamonds International and Colombian Emeralds. Scoop's sells homemade ice cream and Sol E Mar offers T-shirts, watches and flip flops, but most cruisers visit the Rum Barrel for the free Wi-Fi.

Established by French explorers in the early 17th century, Basseterre still has a few surviving 18th-century buildings, mainly colonial homes that have survived decades of hurricanes, fires and earthquakes. Mix those with painted wooden and plain block storefronts, and you get a hodgepodge of architectural styles that can't really be called "picturesque." Still, the town is worth exploring. The hub is the Circus, a circular roundabout styled after London's Piccadilly Circus, with a clock tower in the center. (Be careful of the cars and crowds when crossing.) St. George's Anglican Church has a stormy history, as it was destroyed and rebuilt three times in three centuries. Independence Square, encircled by stately Georgian manors, was once known as Pall Mall and was home to Basseterre's infamous slave market.

Take some time to visit Basseterre's art galleries, boutiques and craft shops. At Spencer Cameron Art Gallery (869-664-4157) in North Independence Square, you can browse prints, watercolors and other artwork by Caribbean artists, as well as reproduction Caribbean charts and maps. Locally-made items for sale at the Craft House (869-465-7754) on Bay Road include soft dolls dressed in vivid island clothing, leather wallets, flip flops, purses, cellphone pouches and earrings.

Good to Know?

Watch your step at Brimstone Hill. The fort, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, has few railings, and the uneven pavement could easily lead to a sprained ankle.

Getting Around?

By Taxi: The best way to explore St. Kitts is to take one of the island's widely available taxis; there are set fares for various destinations around the island. Minivan-style buses also circle the island all day.

By Rental Car: If you're planning to rent a car, a visitor's driver's license costs about $63 EC (roughly $24 U.S.) and can be obtained at police stations and car-rental agencies. Although St. Kitts' roads are wider and easier to drive than those on many Caribbean islands, it's best to go slow. Children walk to school via the roads, and people often stop their cars to talk. Goats, sheep, donkeys and cows have the right of way.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar. (Check www.xe.com for current exchange rates.) However, the U.S. dollar is commonly accepted. The most convenient bank with an ATM is St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank on Central Street in Basseterre.

Language?

English is the official language, spoken with a distinct accent and West Indian idioms.

Where You're Docked?

Located just outside St. Kitts' capital of Basseterre, Port Zante opened in 2005 to accommodate the big cruise ships. (Cunard's Queen Mary 2 calls there, and the port can handle super-sized ships, such as Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.) Downtown Basseterre is a five-minute stroll from the port.


St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Reviews
The tour guide, Franklin, gave us a comprehensive, four hour bus tour through St. Kitts. His narrative and the scenery make the tour totally worth it! The tour was $55USD but I got in for $20USD - he had extra seats Read More
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Rex1965
Nice big port area with shops and bars. This was our third time at St. Kitts and I'd always wanted to do the open air railroad. Took the ship's tour. Bus driver guide was really good and train ride was pleasant with Read More
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May B
Took a snorkeling excursion to Nevis booked with Princess. Very windy took a long time to get to snorkeling, didn't have much beach time as promised. Princess gave us goodwill credit. Stay on St Kitts, not worth it.Read More
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sunsetme
If I had to choose any island I would want to live on I believe St. Kitts would be the island. So much beautiful scenery, the people are friendly.Read More
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MFOB

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