Why go to Antigua?
Antigua boasts about its beaches, and for good reason -- they are some of the most scenic in all of the Caribbean
The areas surrounding the ports are touristy and can be a bit overwhelming to navigate without assistance
Antigua's turquoise waters are reason alone to visit the island, but its historic sights are also worth a look
Antigua Cruise Port Facilities?
At Heritage and Redcliffe Quays, you'll find indoor/outdoor malls for duty-free shopping, as well as several stalls of crafts and souvenirs. Restaurants and bars (many with free Wi-Fi for customers) are mixed in among the shops -- and you'll also find King's Casino just off the main pedestrian zone of Heritage Quay.
The area around Redcliffe Quay is more tasteful, scenic and pleasant for browsing, but it's still touristy. Within easy walking distance of the dock, you'll see several downtown landmarks, including the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, built in 1845.
Deep Water Harbour offers no services.
Good to Know?
As a former British colony, Antigua maintains the practice of driving on the left. Be particularly careful when crossing streets. There can be traffic backups in downtown St. John's, particularly if it rains or during evening rush hour. If you're docked at Deep Water Harbour, allow extra time to get back to your ship.
On Foot: If you're docked at one of the town quays, you could easily spend a couple hours on foot, exploring the town, shopping and having a bite to eat. We don't recommend walking into town from Deep Water Harbour, though. There's no sidewalk along the main road, and the neighborhood looks a bit dicey.
By Taxi: Walk straight up from Heritage Quay, and you'll find two taxi kiosks, where drivers congregate (away from their cars because this is a pedestrian area). Bargain a bit or keep walking to the first cross street, Thames, where drivers hang out with their taxis. Most Antiguan taxis are vans or mini-vans, and you'll get a much better price if you put together a group. Rates are supposedly set by the government, but in our experience, every taxi fare was negotiated. The government website posts official rates.
If your ship is at Deep Water Harbour, count on the fare into town running around $10 to $12. That can average as little as a dollar or two per person if a driver is trying to fill up a van.
By Bus: Feeling adventurous? Consider taking a bus. The main station is located across from the Public Market Complex, between Valley Road and the water, and to the south (or right, if you've just gotten off a ship) of Heritage and Redcliffe Quays. The small No. 17 bus runs to Nelson's Dockyard approximately every half hour. (We say "approximately," because people flag it down along the way or call out "Stop here!" when they want to get off, and you never know how many times it's going to stop.) The bus goes to the dockyard's front gate. Allow at least 45 minutes each way for the ride.
By Rental Car: Hertz (268-462-4114) and Dollar (268-462-0362) have cars available in downtown St. John's, and you can also find local options. You'll have to buy a temporary driver's permit (U.S. $20 or E.C. $50). Rental car companies can expedite it, but you'll need your driver's license and passport with a valid immigration stamp. Also, gas prices are steep -- about double what you pay in the U.S.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Antigua uses the Eastern Caribbean dollar (E.C.), although most vendors in town will readily accept U.S. dollars. Visit www.xe.com or www.oanda.com for currency-conversion rates. A small Scotia Bank ATM kiosk is located right on the water, between Heritage and Redcliffe quays, and you'll also find an ATM at King's Casino, just off of the pedestrian area at Heritage Quay. Both distribute U.S. dollars only, and both levy a fee. A bit farther away (about a five-minute walk), you'll find Scotia Bank, RBC Bank and CBC First Caribbean Bank -- all with ATMs -- at the intersection of High and Market streets.
English is the main language on Antigua, although in some of the smaller villages around the island you'll find Spanish as well.
Where You're Docked?
Your ship might be docked at any of three spots: Heritage Quay, neighboring Redcliffe Quay or the more distant (10 to 15 minutes by taxi, depending on traffic) St. John's Deep Water Harbour.
Heritage and Redcliffe Quays are in the heart of St. John's, the capital city. You'll find shopping, restaurants, bank machines and transportation when you step off the pier.
Deep Water Harbour is the town's industrial port, with no services. However, plans are in place to develop the surrounding area to create an additional full-service cruise port.