St. Kitts Cruise Port: Piers, Getting Around, What’s Nearby

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St. Kitts, one of the two islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, is an enchanting destination that draws over one million tourists annually. With its natural island beauty, unique cultural heritage, and wide range of historical landmarks, it is no wonder that St. Kitts is one of the most popular ports of call for Eastern Caribbean itineraries. 

We will provide cruise passengers with an in-depth breakdown of the St. Kitts Cruise Port, including its facilities, nearby attractions, and practical travel tips for getting the most out of their time on the island.

St. Kitts Cruise Port Description and Location

The main cruise port on the island of St. Kitts is strategically located in Basseterre, the nation’s capital city. The St. Kitts Cruise Port is known by its formal name – Port Zante. The port and its terminals are located right along the central coast of Basseterre, which is nestled along the island’s southeastern shore.

The exact address is as follows: 77RG PVQ, Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevins 

This convenient location allows cruise ships to pull directly alongside the city so their passengers can easily explore the heart of the capital city. Its vibrant mixture of Caribbean and Georgian Era architecture makes it the perfect location for culturally enriching exploration and adventure. 

Number of Terminals and Piers 

As mentioned, the island’s main cruise port is Port Zante, which has a single terminal. Until recently, the port operated around a single pier; however, at just over 1,000 feet in length and with a depth of 28 feet, this pier remains large enough to have two dedicated berths.

Aerial View of the Piers in St. Kitts
Aerial View of the Piers in St. Kitts (Photo Credit: Anthony Giarrusso)

It also means that Port Zante can welcome the world’s largest cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean’s Icon Class vessels. In 2019, the port was expanded to have a second pier, allowing four large cruise ships to dock directly in the port at any given time.

Port Zante’s cruise terminal is actually very impressive, with the entire port complex sprawling over 30 acres.

Port Facilities and Features 

The port delivers a pleasant experience for visitors. The two piers offer many port-side services, including restaurants, duty-free shops, local vendor stalls, and a dedicated tourist information center.

A major food court even has a swimming pool that is open to visitors free of charge. The information center is located within the terminal facility, and you can also purchase excursion packages and tickets to local attractions here. 

The port also offers free Wi-FI to visitors. Simply connect to the public hotspot, Port Zane FREE Wi-Fi, and you should have immediate internet access. This is a relatively rare feature of a Caribbean cruise port, so it is very welcome. If, for whatever reason, you have trouble connecting, you can also find free Wi-Fi at the Sweet Beach Bar & Restaurant, which is just outside of the terminal.

St. Kitts Cruise Terminal
St. Kitts Cruise Terminal (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

The main terminal also has banking facilities, ATMs, public telephones, and plenty of well-maintained bathroom facilities. A steel band and street performers wearing colorful costumes welcome most visitors to the island.

Read Also: Barbados Cruise Port – Getting Around, What’s Nearby and Guide

This effort to make navigating the cruise terminal such a passenger-friendly experience reflects that tourism is a critical component of the country’s economy. In fact, tourism accounts for one-tenth of the country’s GDP, so it is no surprise that they invested a significant amount of public funds into developing the cruise port and its facilities. 

Accessibility within the Port 

Port Zante’s piers and terminal building were designed to welcome all passengers, making the entire port wheelchair-friendly. 

Cruise Lines that Use the Port 

As mentioned, Saint Kitts and Nevis is one of the more popular Caribbean Islands for cruise ships, so it is no surprise that many major cruise lines visit Port Zante.

Cruise Ships Docked in St. Kitts
Cruise Ships Docked in St. Kitts (Photo Credit: SKNIS)

Just some of the cruise lines that regularly visit include Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line.

Port Zante’s berthing arrangements are incredibly well-organized, so multiple cruise ships can be seen coming and going at any given time. There are very few delays, which makes for a more enjoyable experience for visitors.

Options for Transportation 

Visitors tend to use taxis to get from the port to the core of the city and the surrounding area. With a designated Taxi Terminal just outside Port Zante, exploring the city and surrounding attractions is straightforward and convenient. 

To get a taxi, simply wait in the fast-moving line. Most taxi drivers offer flat rates to some of the city’s main attractions.

St. Kitts Port Area With Buses
St. Kitts Port Area With Buses (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

Some of the larger cruise lines also offer complimentary shuttle services to popular attractions, providing an affordable and hassle-free way to explore the city. If this is the case, you will probably be informed by checking your cruise line’s app.

Traffic can be a little bit congested in Basseterre during peak tourist season, especially if you are looking to get to the downtown area. However, the taxi pickup zone within the port is very well-organized, so you shouldn’t have to wait long to get a cab, even with traffic. 

Important Facts About St. Kitts and Nevis

Language

As a former British colony, English is the official language of St. Kitts and Nevis. This explains why it is one of the more popular destinations for Caribbean cruises. 

Currency

The country’s official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, which is pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of roughly ECD 2.7 to USD 1. With that said, American currency is also widely accepted, but usually just in smaller denominations, so avoid bringing $50 and $100 bills. 

Time Zone

St. Kitts and Nevis operate on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) throughout the year, meaning they do not observe daylight savings time. Instead, the entire country follows a set clock year-round. 

Nearby Amenities and Attractions 

One of the best things about visiting the port is that the city and its attractions are within reasonable walking distance. We recommend the following:

The National Museum of St. Kitts

National Museum of St. Kitts
National Museum of St. Kitts (Photo Credit: quiggyt4)

The museum is located just steps outside the port. Built in 1894, it is a former British treasury building. The historical structure displays exhibits that showcase the island’s culture, colonial history, and pre-empire indigenous past. Given that it can be walked to in under five minutes, it is always worth visiting.

St. Kitts and Nevis Independence Square

This compact park is just a 10-minute walk from the cruise terminal and centers around a 19th-century water feature. With shaded benches and eye-catching tropical gardens, it is a great place to sit back and get a feel for the city. 

The park is also located a short distance from a traditional British red phone box, making you feel like you’re in a tropical version of London, England. 

Port Zante Shopping

You don’t even have to leave the cruise port to enjoy an afternoon of shopping and eating. With the Pelican Shopping Mall built directly into the Port Zante area, plus a wide range of souvenir, duty-free, and jewelry stores, the port offers some of the city’s best shopping. Plus, there are ice cream shops, a bar, and several restaurants.

Shopping in Basseterre
Shopping in Basseterre (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

If you have more time to explore the city and the surrounding area, plenty of amazing sights and attractions are within a relatively short taxi ride. The following are just some of the more popular options:

Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

Brimstone Hill Fortress
Brimstone Hill Fortress (Photo Credit: quiggyt4)

Located roughly 12 miles from Port Zante, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers visitors an opportunity to explore a well-preserved 17th-century British military outpost. Not only is the colonial fortress worth exploring, but the surrounding area was granted national park status, and it provides stunning, panoramic views of the island’s coastline. 

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway

Located less than two miles north of the port, the Scenic Railway allows visitors to take a three-hour round trip along a 20th-century railroad. The tracks follow the island’s coastline for roughly 30 miles, making it one of the easiest ways to see the island’s national beauty. Plus, the train is open-air, so you can really get a feel for the sights and sounds. 

Historic Zone of Basseterre

Located just a short walk, the city of Basseterre is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site of its own. The entire historic downtown core is incredibly well-preserved, with examples of French colonial architecture, as well as British architecture that followed English colonial rule. The area is located just a short cab ride from the cruise port, but it’s also possible to walk, as it’s only about a mile away.

Picadilly Circus Square in Basseterre
Picadilly Circus Square in Basseterre (Photo Credit: EQRoy)

Take the opportunity to wander around and explore. There are plenty of shops and restaurants offering hand-made souvenirs and local dishes. Don’t forget your camera! 

Seasonal Weather and Best Time to Visit 

While St. Kitts and Nevis is a year-round tourist destination, weather conditions and average temperatures vary throughout the year. In general, most people consider the months between November and March to be the best time to visit. This is because temperatures are pleasant but not overly hot and humid. There is also a reduced risk of tropical storms during this time of year. 

These ideal conditions also mean that the island is at its busiest with cruise traffic and other forms of tourism, so it can get slightly crowded. If you go during different times of the year, you can save some money and encounter fewer crowds.

View of St. Kitts
View of St. Kitts (Photo Credit: Anthony Giarrusso)

Fall and Winter: Temperatures range from 75°F to 80°F, with relatively low humidity and a consistent breeze. This makes the fall and winter the ideal seasons to spend time outdoors sightseeing.

Worth Reading: When is the Best Time to Cruise the Caribbean?

Spring and Summer: Temperatures tend to sit around 85°F, but humidity can make it feel warmer, especially in the mid-summer months. The likelihood of rain also increases substantially, especially between June and September, which also happens to be Hurricane Season.   

Frigate Bay: Located roughly 4 miles from Port Zante, you’ll probably need a cab or shuttle bus to get to Frigate Bay, but it is one of the most popular beach destinations on the island. With its white sand, clear ocean waters, and a number of beachfront restaurants and bars, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

Frigate Bay
Frigate Bay (Photo Credit: Kevin Ruck)

South Friars Bay Beach: At 6 miles from the port, South Friars Bay Beach requires a slightly longer drive, but its tranquil atmosphere and notoriously calm waters are perfect for swimming and water sports. Whether you want to snorkel or enjoy a relaxing beach day, it’s worth visiting. 

Cockleshell Bay: Although it’s an 8-mile taxi ride away, Cockleshell Bay offers visitors the opportunity to spend the day on a truly stunning beach. Not only is the white sand exactly what you want out of a Caribbean beach, but you can take in amazing views of the Caribbean Sea and even Nevis Peak in the distance. Since it’s a bit farther than the other tourist-friendly beaches, it has a quieter and more secluded atmosphere.

Visiting Nevis from Saint Kitts 

As you may have guessed, Nevis is the second island that makes up the nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. For those wanting to see more of the country, a regular ferry service offers a scenic and enjoyable ride across “The Narrows” gap that separates the two islands. The ferry takes about 45 minutes, and it leaves from the same port that cruise ships dock in, so the commute is really easy.

Welcome Sign at Port of Charlestown on Nevis Island
Welcome Sign at Port of Charlestown on Nevis Island (Photo Credit: Mystic Stock Photography)

If you do make it across to the sister island of Nevis, we recommend visiting the Alexander Hamilton Birthplace. Now a museum, this Georgian-era house is located in the center of Charleston, the capital of Nevis. History buffs will love the opportunity to learn about the interesting history of Alexander Hamilton and the island’s colonial past. 

You can also spend the day on Pinney’s Beach, which offers the same crystal-clear waters, palm trees, and white sand as the beaches of St. Kitts but with smaller crowds. Nevis is also home to the Nevis Volcano, which gave the island its name. No longer active, this volcano and the lush forests that cover it make it a favorite for hiking enthusiasts. 

Dining Around St. Kitts Cruise Port

Thanks to the booming tourist industry and the unique blend of cultures that have mingled throughout the island’s complex past, the country and its cities have amazing restaurant scenes. 

While you can find some of the more recognizable American-owned chains, the real charm is the family-owned restaurants that serve up the authentic flavors and ingredients of St. Kitts and Nevis. 

If you do want to take in some of the local cuisine, we recommend trying stewed saltfish, stewed goat, conch fritters, and pretty much any of the seafood restaurants. You can also find plenty of stands blending up fresh fruit smoothies. St. Kitts and Nevis also has plenty of its own rum distilleries, so make sure you sample some of the local stuff!

No Rush Bar at Port Zante
No Rush Bar at Port Zante (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

We have a soft spot for Four Ways Restaurant & Bar in Basseterre. The open-air seating is the perfect setting for trying some of the island’s most iconic dishes and cocktails. It’s also just a short walk from the port, but far enough that you won’t have to wait long to get a table. 

If you’re looking for a few cold drinks and the opportunity to relax in a true St. Kitts gem, you can also visit places like Jabou’s Hideaway. Friendly locals and tourists alike frequent bars like this, providing a more authentic experience than you will get in the bars found within Port Zante itself. If you want to embrace the experience, don’t forget to sample the local rum and Caribbean beers. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you walk around St. Kitts from the cruise port?

Yes, the city of Basseterre is immediately outside of the cruise port, so you can easily walk into town for quick access to shops, restaurants, and attractions. 

How far is the beach from St. Kitts cruise port? 

Sea Glass Beach is the nearest beach to the cruise port, just under three miles away. However, most people travel slightly further to Frigate Bay Beach, which is much nicer and is located a short distance from Dolphin Discovery at St Kitts. 

Is St. Kitts a tender port? 

No, Port Zante functions primarily as a docked port, but tendering is possible at some of the island’s smaller ports. Typically, this is only done by some of the smaller cruise lines.

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.

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