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St. Kitts

St. Kitts Scenic Railway Excursion Tips

St. Kitts scenic railway
St. Kitts scenic railway. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

St. Kitts Scenic Railway is one of the most unique attractions in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean isn't exactly a hotspot for railroads because most islands are too small for them or because they simply weren't needed. St. Kitts found a need because of sugar plantations.

The narrow gauge railway was built between 1912 and 1926 to take sugarcane from the sugar plantations to a factory in Basseterre, the capital of the island. It is now used to transport tourists in sightseeing cars in a loop around the island. The railway owners say it is the "last railway in the West Indies".

The entire tour is 30 miles long including 18 miles on the rail line for two hours and 12 miles by bus for about 45 minutes.

Tour guides will note passing points of interest including Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Paul's Village, ruins of old plantations and Old Road Town.

The rail cars have two decks: an interior deck with air conditioning and an upper, open-air deck for 360-degree viewing. The interior deck has six-foot windows and cushioned chairs, according to the railway website.

Guests are served complimentary drinks as part of the ticket prices. Entertainment includes a three-voice a capella choir that sings Caribbean folk songs.

Tickets are not available on the railway's website. They are reserved almost entirely by cruise lines and other excursion operators.

At the time of this writing, Carnival had tickets at $100 for teens and adults and $65 for children ages four to 12. Royal Caribbean had them at $159 for adults and $89 for children. Viator, a major excursion operator, offered tickets at $144 each. Prices may fluctuate based on the time of year.

More About the Train

Investors originally built a sugarcane factory in 1912 to achieve better efficiency. They built the railroad to transport the sugarcane from the fields to the factory.

The system allowed St. Kitts to continue sugar production after other islands stopped because of declining prices and increasing competition. Production closed after it became unprofitable. The railroad stopped transporting sugarcane after the end of the 2005 crop.

But in 2003, the government and the privately owned St. Kitts Railway began offering tourist excursions.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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February 17, 2020
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