St. Kitts (Photo:mbrand85/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of St. Kitts

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.

About St. Kitts


Pro

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

Con

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


Find a Cruise to St. Kitts

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.

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.

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.

Shopping

Anything made of batik cloth is a great souvenir. You can watch artisans create the brightly colored fabrics using hot wax and colorful dye at Caribelle Batik, located at Romney Manor (869-465-6253). Pick up a swimsuit cover-up from about $30, or a wall hanging from $40.

Best Cocktail

Cane Spirit Ritchmont is made from cane juice instead of molasses. The best way to sample is by trying "Ting with a Sting," a drink that combines CSR with Ting, a grapefruit-flavored soda. Try it at Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack on the South Frigate Bay strip, but be warned: It can be potent.