Friday, November 16, 2012

November 14th – St Croix

St Croix (pronounced St Croy) is probably the least known of the US Virgin Islands. St Thomas is famous for its duty free shopping and resorts (and for being over-commercialised), while St John is famous for being so unspoilt. That leaves St Croix (which is 40 miles to the south of the other two) as a little bit different – it's bigger, it has more history, and its economy is more diversified.

In the morning, I joined a tour kayaking around the mangroves of the beautiful Salt River National Park – the only place on American soil that Columbus actually set foot. Not only was the kayaking a good workout, but it was fascinating to see this well-preserved ecosystem that does so much to keep the coastline clean.

In the afternoon, we did a bit of exploring our little port of call, Frederiksted. Even though it's a cruise port, Frederiksted seems little affected by the cruise trade – in fact, the whole place seems like it's asleep. That does mean you can walk around its wide, empty streets without being assaulted by vendors, and you can soak up its historic atmosphere and grandiose buildings, without the neon signs of the duty free shops and clothing stores.

In fact, if you ignored the peeling plasterwork and the lack of people, the place seems little changed from its heyday during the shortlived Danish Empire, when it was a prosperous port trading sugar and slaves. Frederiksted made for a gentle final stop on another lovely cruise (although we have two days at sea to recover from its less than high octane pleasures).

It's nice to see that this US Virgin is still fairly untouched by man.