Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
St. Vincent

St. Vincent Cruise Port Guide

St. Vincent dock. Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons license
St. Vincent dock. Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons license

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a collection of 32 fertile islands, but one island matters the most to cruise visitors, and that is St. Vincent itself.

Cruise ships usually dock at Kingstown, the capital of this many-island nation, but they also dock at Bequia and Union Island.

Some of the cruise lines that visit St. Vincent and bring with them nearly 100,000 visitors a year include Holland America, P&O, Aida Cruises, Island Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Fred Olsen and Silver Sea Cruises.

Big ones that don’t visit include Carnival while Royal Caribbean recently added one. But that may change soon because St. Vincent and the Grenadines is on the rise in the travel world.

The island has a new $240 million airport, the Argyle International Airport, that will lead to an increase in overnight visitors and public awareness. It will allow direct flights from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Central America and South America.

The island chain is famous for its natural beauty including rain forests, waterfalls, a soaring volcano and black sand beaches. Visitors won’t find the commercialism that is so prominent on many other Caribbean islands.

Cruise lines that visit St. Vincent include Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Marella, MSCs, Oceania, P&O and Princess.

Quick Travel Tips

  • Ships usually dock at Kingstown but also Bequia and Union Island
  • La Soufriere Volcano is one of the most famous attractions
  • The islands are known for black sand beaches

Kingstown Cruise Terminal

St. Vincent Cruise Terminal Map

Passengers who arrive in Kingstown will disembark at the cruise terminal on the southwest coast of the island.

The terminal has 24 retail shops, a tourist information office and Internet access, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority says.

The dock outside of the terminal can handle two cruise ships at a time.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Walking Around Attractions

Unfortunately, the cruise terminal is at the southern end of Kingstown and not within easy walking distance of some noteworthy attractions.

Cruise visitors who simply want to observe real life in Kingstown can take a short walk north of the docks to reach Bay Street. It runs parallel to the sea. It has the wharf, fish market, bus terminal and police station.

Kingstown has Market Square for shoppers of local arts and crafts. The city also has some noteworthy architectural attractions.

They include St. George’s Anglican Cathedral. It was built in the early 1800s in the Georgian architectural style and features spectacular stained-glass windows originally commissioned by Queen Victoria. It is three fourths of a mile east of the docks.

St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, built in 1823, shows Moorish, Romanesque and Georgian styles made from dark volcanic sand bricks. Kingstown Methodist Church is worth noting for its stained glass and massive pipe organ. It is about one mile north of the cruise terminal.

Two more attractions require a great deal of walking only for the most fit and energetic walkers. Fort Charlotte, more than two miles north of the cruise terminal, offers panoramic views thanks to its lofty location. Built in 1806, the fort includes a collection of paintings that depict Carib Indian history.

The 20-acre botanical gardens north of Kingstown, the oldest of its kind in the western hemisphere, were first built in 1765. They are about 1.7 miles north of the cruise terminal.

Other popular attractions are scattered elsewhere on the island.

Shore Excursions

A city and island shore excursion is a more convenient option for seeing Fort Charlotte, the botanical gardens and other sites on the island. These three- to four-hour tours cost about $60 per person with discounts for children. Some tours visit just the fort and the gardens. They are less expensive but also much faster.

Adventurous and athletic visitors might want to hike to the top of La Soufriere Volcano. The hike is high difficulty and two hours one way to the top from the trailhead. Hikers will pass through rainforest, montane thicket and cloud forest. This tour will cost about $80 to $100 or more per person and depending on the length and tour operator.

The Vermont Nature Trail is a two-hour, two-mile, medium difficulty hike in the southern interior nine miles from Kingstown. The well-marked trail is located in a 10,870-acre reserve. The cost is about $60 per person.

Owia Salt Pond
Owia Salt Pond is a therapeutic pond on the northeast coast. © 2016 SVG Tourism Authority

A visit to Dark View waterfalls is a common shore excursion. It’s an easy 15-minute hike on the leeward side of the island. These shore excursions cost about $50 to $60 depending on the operator and the amenities.

Owia Salt Pond is a unique natural salt pond where visitors can swim, picnic or enjoy the natural setting. The cost is about $65 per person.

All prices are subject to change without notice. They also depend on length, amenities, sailing dates and other factors.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Beaches on St. Vincent are a choice of white sand or black sand. Black sand beaches are the result of volcanic activity from the northern La Soufriere Volcano, which last erupted in 1979.

Villa and Indian Bay beaches on the south coast are popular as well as Young Island’s white sand beach.

Black sand beaches include Richmond Beach, Buccament Bay, Mt. Wynne, Petit Byahaut, Sandy Bay and Black Point Beach.

Shopping and Restaurants

Shops in St. Vincent normally open around 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. They usually close at 1 p.m. Saturdays and rarely open on Sundays.

The country’s official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (often shown as ECD), but the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. Credit cards are accepted in the majority of hotels, boutiques and restaurants.

Most goods and services have a 15 p Value Added tax (VAT) on most goods and services and a 10% government tax at hotels.

Visitors will find that Long Lane is usually full of stalls, boutiques and street vendors. These streets are the main shopping areas. Banks and ATMs are plentiful.

Fish lovers will find that the fish market along Bay Street by the bus terminal has vendors who chop fish into steaks with large machetes and expertly scale and clean them.

Kingstown has more than a dozen restaurants ranging from Subway to The Sapodilla Room at Grenadines House.

Getting Around / Transportation

Visitors who rent a car have to purchase a temporary license for EC$65 and need to show a domestic driving licence. Note that driving on the islands is on the left.

Taxis are available and usually members of the SVG Taxi Association. Ask for the fare before getting into the taxi.

Buses leave from New Kingstown Fish Market on the waterfront. Fares cost between $0.35 and $1 U.S. dollars.

Anyone with enough available time might take advantage of the ferry system to visit some of the other islands in the chain.

Daily destinations include Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau and Union Island. Travel time depends on the destination.

Bequia is the closest at nine miles away from St. Vincent and takes about an hour to reach.

Weather / Best Time to Go

Like most Caribbean islands, St. Vincent has warm temperatures throughout the year that average in the mid 80s Fahrenheit or about 30 degrees Celsius during the day and the mid 70s Fahrenheit at night.

The most popular months to visit are December through May because of lower rainfall, according to the SVG Tourism Authority.

Total rainfall jumps from July through November because of the Caribbean hurricane season, although the risk of a hurricane passing through the area is low. Hurricanes usually pass to the north of the islands.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020