All about St. John’s

January 25, 2014 No Comments
The port of St. John's, Antigua. The port of St. John's, Antigua.

Your cruise ship will dock at either Finger Pier at Heritage Quay or Nevis Street Pier at Redcliffe Quay. Both are in the heart of St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and its largest city. Almost half of the island’s residents live in St. John’s, so the streets can be bustling during the day—especially when there are a few cruise ships in port.

When your ship docks in Antigua’s capital, you won’t have to go far to find the island’s best treasures. Just steps from the cruise pier, Heritage Quay is a great open-air shopping complex with unrivaled water views. The two-floor shopper’s paradise is packed with nearly 50 air-conditioned shops offering a variety of goods at incredible tax- and duty-free prices. You’ll also find local artwork and handicrafts in abundant supply, as well as great selections of jewelry, emeralds, watches, electronics, china, and English linens.

The nearby Redcliffe Quay is housed in restored Georgian warehouses painted in a vibrant mix of Caribbean hues. Tucked within the former trading post is a mix of fine boutiques selling some of the world’s most renowned jewelry and watch brands—plus some designer gems found only on Antigua.

Beyond the pier, it’s easy to get around St. John’s by foot—all of the capital’s top sites are within walking distance. Founded in the 1660s by English colonizers, St. John’s is a charming Caribbean town where cobblestone sidewalks are lined by wooden houses with corrugated iron roofs and Caribbean verandas. Fort James, which overlooks St. John’s Harbor, was built in the early 18th century to protect the city from invaders. It remains in excellent condition—even a few of the original cannons are still intact.

The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, housed in the colonial Court House, is one of the oldest buildings in town. The museum displays Arawak artifacts like stone pendants and flint knives from the island’s first inhabitants alongside modern treasures such as the bat of legendary cricket player Sir Vivian Richards.

The town’s most recognizable landmark is St. John’s Cathedral, a baroque structure with two stone cupolas that dominate the skyline. The first cathedral on this site was built of wood in the late 17th century and later replaced by a stone version in 1745. That church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1843. The current edifice is undergoing a major restoration project that began in 2009. It was slated to be completed by summer 2014, however, renovation work continues.

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Explore Antigua’s rich naval heritage and scenery on a narrated island drive and walking tour of the restored naval station, Nelson’s Dockyard.

Experience Antigua’s aquatic delights three ways: a catamaran cruise, reef snorkeling, and swimming at a white-sand beach.

Experience Antigua’s aquatic delights three ways with a catamaran cruise, reef snorkeling and swimming at a white-sand beach. Set sail in a motorized catamaran. Anchoring near paradise Reef, crew members guide snorkelers around sheltered waters for the best views.

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