Review: Celebrity's A St. Johns Island Tour

by Female Abroad

When I was looking at our cruise the main thing that I did not want to do was to book excursions through the cruise line as no they are more expensive than going direct. However since we had an onboard credit that we weren't going to use for anything else there was no reason for us not to use it for this reason as it would save us money from paying out of pocket for the cheaper excursions.

This was the first tour we took on our cruise and the first one that we had booked through the cruise line. From the research I had done of St. Thomas, I was surprised to not be able to find easy access to the attractions we wanted to do when we got off the ship (ex. the gondola) but it turns out we were docked in Crown Bay (Austin "Babe" Monsanto) marine terminal which was not downtown but you could take a 5-10 minute cab ride to town.

We had to meet up with our tour so after getting onto the gangway we headed off to try to figure out what "Section 2" on our ticket meant as the Shore Excursion desk on the ship was useless in helping explain what it meant (check out my blog post). After we were outside of the gate that separated the gangway from the general area, we found signs that listed different Section numbers and after talking to the tour guides, this is where we were to meet for our tour. That would have been easy enough for the shore excursion desk to tell us instead of being snappy and rude.

After exploring the few shops that were in this area while trying to kill time and taking more photos of iguana's then we needed, we headed back to the Section 2 sign and met up with our group. They then walked us back the way we came and took our tickets as we got onto a boat, giving us a coloured card depending on what tour we were going to do on the other island. Ours was yellow for the island tour and the other two groups were for a beach day and just the boat transfers to / from St. Johns.

The ferry ride to St. Johns was about 45 minutes from Crown Bay and the Captain did his best to point out places as well as explain some information on the island but he was holding the microphone too close to his face so we couldn't make out a good chunk of what he was saying but he was really good at driving the boat so that was more important anyway.

Upon arriving at the dock at St. John's the destruction from Irma was obvious and could not be missed. As soon as we were off the boat we were loaded onto small open air safari type vehicles that could fit up to 20 people but we had maybe a dozen with us. The ride was bumpy but it was cool without the AC as you have the wind blowing through you hair and the driver was very knowledgeable of everything we went by.

All the stops around the island were for the views as there is not much on this small island besides homes, most of which are still trying to be fixed after hurricane Irma. The photo above is of the local elementary school of which they use just the bottom floor of now as they are still working on repairing the top floor. If you are looking to learn about the culture or are wanting a quiet beach day then (at least in off season) this is a great little island to visit as there was more locals than tourists.

The devastation of Irma was made all the more clear when our guide showed us photos of sites pre-Irma while we are looking out over the same viewpoint. Pre-Irma, that white sand beach on the right was just a sliver. The 225 km/h winds ripped trees out and made the beach a lot larger. You also couldn't see the small group of buildings just above the beach but obviously you can now.

Along the way to our next view points he would stop and point out various fruits, termite mounds, plantation ruins, and other interesting things along the way. At one point he pulled a bunch of bay leaves off a bush and handed them out for us to sniff. you could really tell that he was a local and loved his home. It was the best way to experience the island for sure.

While at our third view point stop our guide started to sell us on the Moni fruit like it was going out of style. It turns out this fruit grows on the island and is a cure all for everything from cancer to blindness, and everything in between. The guide showed us our collar bone which he had clearly snapped in half. he said he made Moni juice and drank it for everyday for a week. The bone was healed enough that he was able to return to his job driving after that week. With the look of the bone if it did heal it healed horribly and looked like it would break again at any moment. Below is the photo of the fruit which is supposed to be very popular in Europe. I guess he is trying to boost the local economy.

At the end of the tour we were dropped off back at the boat with about 45 minutes to kill. Knowing that the local tourist centers stamp passports so you can get a touristy passport stamp we headed over to the tourist center just to find the stamp chained to a desk and no one in the building. We used the free bathrooms and then headed over to Mongoose Junction which really neat as it was done up like a tree house with about 30 winding shops / restaurants built on top of each other, connected by pathways.

Then it was back on the boat and back to the cruise port. Along the way the boat sold hot dogs, chips, beer, and water. we were starving so we got a couple of hot dogs (they are not smokies, just thin hot dogs) and relaxed, listening to the Captain who we could hear now. He pointed out where Nasa tried to teach dolphins English, where a former wall street big wig bought the only private island in the USVI so he could spend his time on it during his house arrest, and various celebrity homes.

Would I recommend this? Yes. At U$ 44/person it was worth the money

Did I enjoy it? Yes

Note: bring a bottle of water with you as there are no stops to buy anything to eat or drink. The only bathroom stop on the tour as well as at the start by the port, there are no other bathrooms.

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