Two tourists explore the colorful merchandise displayed in small temporary stalls along the waterfront of Charlotte Amalie. By GETTY IMAGES
ST. THOMAS — St. Thomas has been named the top cruise destination in the Caribbean for the second year in a row by the readers of Porthole Cruise Magazine, who voted for their favorite destination in the region in the publication’s 22nd Annual Readers’ Choice Awards.
According to the V.I. Dept. of Tourism, the latest accolade for the island described St. Thomas as “bustling and cosmopolitan, yet quaint and historic." The results, published in the November/December 2020 issue of the magazine, also feature dozens of other reader favorites under the categories of best ships, best onboard experiences and best destinations.
Upon hearing the outcome of the vote, V.I. Dept. of Tourism Commissioner, Joseph Boschulte said, “I’d like to thank the discerning readers of Porthole Cruise Magazine for choosing us once again. It’s really encouraging news for Virgin Islanders, especially in this tumultuous year. It tells us that we have a solid foundation with our current cruise product, and drives us to continue to work on improving it so we can hopefully earn this title again next year.”
“For St. Thomas to be chosen once again in the category of best Caribbean cruise destination, I think really illustrates that the U.S. Virgin Islands is doing something right,” said Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine. “Our readers are avid travelers with high standards who really understand the nuance of cruise products, so they don’t make these choices lightly.”
Since reopening its doors to leisure visitors more than a month ago, the territory has welcomed several thousand guests eager to experience all that the USVI has to offer, and to stimulate much-needed economic activity through their spending on accommodations, activities and attractions, according to the release.
The territory has also experienced a significant uptick in U.S. visitors, reporting more than a 200 percent year-over-year increase of all travel insurance policies purchased through Squaremouth.com between March 12 and October 19, 2020, for all future travel.
Cruise industry analysis indicates steadfast interest in cruise experiences despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “No Sail” order, which had prevented cruise ships from sailing in U.S. waters during most of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Travelers are primarily concerned with being assured of each destination’s adherence to stringent health and safety protocols.
“Historically, the cruise sector has been an essential partner in the development of the USVI’s tourism product, and we are always looking for ways to strengthen those key relationships,” Mr. Boschulte noted, adding that the department looks forward to welcoming vessels back to the Territory’s ports when cruising resumes in the months ahead.
Porthole Cruise Magazine is a leading cruise-travel magazine, available on newsstands and online.