Why go to Guernsey?
A compact, pretty capital; stunning beaches minutes away and a fascinating military history
St Peter Port is a tender port, and high tides and poor weather can often prevent landings
Guernsey is tiny, and after spending the morning discovering its capital, it's worth heading off to see the countryside and beaches
Guernsey Cruise Port Facilities?
There is a tiny staffed shelter with visitor information on Albert Pier as you disembark, where you will be handed a map of the town and the island, as well as a card enabling you to access free Wi-Fi throughout your stay (the town is full of Wi-Fi hotspots). If you are on an organised shore excursion, you'll find the buses parked just to the right of here. If you are not, it's a few seconds' walk to St. Peter Port's town center, stretching along the Esplanade. You can then turn right or left along the frontage or head inland to one of the parallel shopping streets and continue up the hill to several attractions of interest.
The map you'll be handed as you arrive is handy, but if you want more detailed information about the island head to the Guernsey Information Centre, a large stand-alone sandstone building a few minutes walk from Albert Pier, along the North Esplanade. You can't miss it, it has the Guernsey flag flying outside.
Good to Know?
Keep your wits about you when crossing the streets, as the traffic drives on the left as in the British Isles. Many St. Peter Port streets are narrow, they tend to be one way, and it is always advisable to use the zebra-striped pedestrian crossing points on the busier thoroughfares. Once you step off the curb onto one, you have the right-of-way over vehicular traffic.
Also, be advised that the English Channel sea temperature hovers in the mid-50's, so beaches provide quiet places to relax, enjoy picnics or take short walks, as opposed to places for swimming (although that doesn't stop the locals who will swim in any weather).
By foot: The best way to see St. Peter Port is by foot, but be warned, the hills behind the main harbor front road are steep.
By bicycle: Cycling is a great way to see the island and there are plenty of cycle hire shops in the town. You can book directly with the Guernsey Information Centre.
By taxi: Taxis are available on the pier and at stands along the Esplanade.
By bus: The island's excellent bus network takes you directly to all the important attractions and provides a scenic circular drive on the 91 route, operating both clockwise and counterclockwise every half hour. The 90-minute island overview follows narrow lanes through small settlements, passes farms raising the prized Guernsey cows and, in places, skirts the rugged coastline. The flat one-pound fare for any distance is payable to the driver as you board. From the pier, the main bus terminal is located just to your left, short walk along the South Esplanade. Northbound or clockwise bus routes are located outside the Tourist Information Centre and at the roundabout (traffic circle) as you leave the port access road. A Bus Timetable booklet is handy to have and easily obtained at tourist information outlets and at the main bus terminal.
By car: Major car rental firms including Hertz and Avis are all located at the airport, but if you prebook you can have the car delivered to you. Note that there are no parking charges on the island -- there is an honor system in place whereby you mark the time you parked on a calendar (supplied with the car) and make sure you return before the time indicated on signs is up.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Guernsey's currency is the Guernsey pound, and its value is tied to the British pound sterling. For the current exchange rate check www.xe.com. Both currencies are readily accepted, but bear in mind that Guernsey pounds are not generally accepted in Britain. You will have to exchange the leftovers at a bank, or keep them for a souvenir. Several banks offer ATMs along the Esplanade, parallel to High Street and Le Pollet and one short block inland; these dispense Guernsey currency only. The local currency includes a paper one-pound note (unlike in Britain) and the island's own set of coins (pence). Credit cards are widely accepted, though small purchases and bus tickets will require cash.
English is the ruling language there and throughout the Channel Islands. While many local residents are originally from Britain, some island-born residents also speak Guernesiaise or Dgernesiais, a Franco-Norman language that dates back to the Middle Ages. For example, a phrase that appears on the island's bus receipts will say "Bianvnu a bord," rather than modern French "Bienvenu a bord" or its English translation "Welcome onboard." The language may also appear in some captions in local museums. Visitors are not expected to understand Guernesiaise.
Where You're Docked?
Small cruise ships may dock along one of St. Peter Port's stone piers-cum-breakwaters, but most anchor off with a short 10- to 15-minute tendering transfer to the landing at Albert Pier, at a purpose built pontoon which can take three tenders at once new for the 2015 cruise season (tenders previously docked at St Julian's Pier).