It involves champagne, a catamaran, and the most beautiful beach I have EVER seen. Sound good? Great!
When we took our cruise in December one of the ports was in St. Thomas. My mom suggested we look into visiting St. John while we were there. St. John is only about 4 miles away from St. Thomas, and roughly two-thirds of the island is a national park. She’d heard incredible things about the beaches there, but had never been. Thank goodness she mentioned this! If not, we really would have missed out.
Since we were visiting with a cruise ship, our time was going to be limited. We started looking at excursions that were offered through Royal Caribbean. Normally we don’t book excursions through the ship, but it was our honeymoon, and we were all about being as stress-free as possible. That’s when we came across the “Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel to St. John” option. Whoever named this excursion is a hero. It literally had all of my favorite words in the title. Champagne. Catamaran. Sail. Snorkel. St. John. How could we not go?!
We booked through the fancy new Royal IQ app and our tickets arrived the next morning.
Docking in St. Thomas
The morning we docked in St. Thomas everyone who was going on an excursion had to meet at the Royal Theater at 8:00. This part of the process was slightly on the unorganized side. When you arrived at the theater you were told to sit in a general area with other groups. Eventually they started calling sections to leave and get off the ship. This was a little on the chaotic side since everyone was piling off the ship at once. Excursion signs and calling one group at a time to leave would definitely make things run a little smoother!
Once we got off the ship we had to exchange our tickets with a staff member and get onto one of those island cars that has no doors. Two full cars of about 20 people each headed to our destination. It was a 20 minute drive from the cruise port to the marina where we could get on the catamaran.
There’s something about island driving that just makes you feel alive. Is it the whipping around corners, lack of lane lines, or the always surprising thrill of riding on the opposite side of the road? Who knows, but it’s always an adventure. If you’re not a huge fan of island driving, I would suggest sitting in the middle of the row so that you feel a little more secure. I promise the sailing ahead is worth the ride! Hang in there!
Sailing to St. John
After you arrive at the marina, you have to take off your shoes and then you can hop aboard. From the marina it’s about a 30 minute ride to St. John. While sailing the 3 crew members give you information about the area. They are all very quippy and entertaining. You’ll learn some great trivia points and get a few good corny jokes as well. The water is absolutely beautiful, and it’s so cool to see all of the nearby islands. We even saw a rainbow on our journey to St. John.
Snorkeling at St. John
The catamaran drops anchor a little ways from the beach. You can either jump off the boat with your snorkel gear, climb down the boat’s ladder into the water, or take a tiny boat over to the beach. I’d highly suggest jumping off the boat if you can. It’s so much fun!
I’d never been a huge fan of snorkeling before this excursion. Every time I went my goggles would fill up with water. Half the time I’d feel like I was sinking and going to accidentally hit a sting ray or even worse, destroy coral that had taken thousands of years to form! I reluctantly decided to give it another shot here, and I was so happy I did!
The crew gives you flippers, snorkel gear, and one of the inflatable snorkeling vests. They also had mini pool noodles you could use as well. I’m not ashamed to say I opted in for one of those! This combination was perfect. I could easily float over the GORGEOUS coral reef and enjoy all of the fish and wildlife. It’s the best snorkel experience I’ve ever had! So many cute creatures to see.
After snorkeling fun we headed over to the beach portion of the inlet. I’ve never seen such clear water in my life. We swam out to where we couldn’t touch the ground and you could still see your toes! The water was such a pretty shade of blue and the sand on the beach was like white powder. In my next life I want to come back as a Honeymoon Beach mermaid. I could have stayed there for days!
Champagne for Everyone!
After swimming and snorkeling the crew sound an alarm and you swim back to the boat. Don’t worry. The adventure isn’t over yet. Time to pop those bottles! The crew made some awesome rum punch and you could get beer too as well as champagne (of course). On the way back they turn off the motor and you get to just coast, have some drinks, and relax in the sun. It was perfect. The crew was super sweet too. They’d come by with refills and hang around to chat with you. It’s a lovely way to end the excursion.
Back to the Cruise Ship
When you arrive back at the marina, you get off the catamaran and tip the crew. They definitely deserve it! You then get back on the doorless shuttle for your adrenaline-filled ride back to the cruise port.
All in all I would say it’s definitely the best way to access and see St. John when you have a limited amount of time. The champagne catamaran excursion was the highlight of the cruise for both of us. You’ll love it!
What’s your favorite cruise excursion? I’d love to hear about it!