|Its all about ships
St. Croix is the largest of the three main islands that make up the
United States Virgin Islands, However, it is a considerable distance from
its sister islands of St. Thomas and St. John. Indeed, it is only on a clear
day that you can see across the 40 or so miles of water that separate St.
Croix from her popular sisters. As a result, St. Croix is somewhat off the
beaten tourist path.
This tends to explain the unhurried atmosphere of the island. Its two
principal towns, Christensted and Frederiksted, lack the hustle and bussel
of Charlotte Amalie. Its often mountainous countryside is largely
undeveloped with lush vegetation on the west side and arrid terrain on the
east side. The 54,000 residents of the island are pretty well spread out
across the island's 84 square miles.
The United States Virgin Islands is an unicorporated territory of the
United States. Thus, the Cruzans are citizens of the United States. They
vote in territorial elections. However, the territorial government is
based in St. Thomas.
In recent years, the Hovensa oil refinery has been one of the island's
largest employers. However, in early 2012, it was announced that the
refinery would be permanently closed.
Another important industry is the manufacture of rum. St. Croix is the
home of the Cruzan Distillery, makers of Cruzan Rum and Southern
Comfort. A new distillery scheduled to open in 2012 will make Captain
Many people, however, are involved in tourism. Conseqently, most
people are tourist friendly. While the tourist infastructure may not be as
sophisticated as St. Thomas, it is nonetheless considerable.
St. Croix has suffered in recent years from a perception that crime is
a serious problem on the island. Locals claim this image is without basis
and that the crime rate on St. Croix is the same as on other Caribbean
islands. In addition, they say that few crimes are perpetrated against
visitors to the island. However, they say that visitors to St. Croix should
exercise the same caution that they do when visiting other parts of the
From December through April, the temperature in St. Croix ranges
from the low 70s to high 80s on the Farnheight scale. It is slightly higher
during May through November. The driest period is the Spring and early
summer. St. Croix is within the huricane belt with such storms appearing
in late summer and early Fall.
OVERVIEW AND HISTORY..........................................................Page One
CRUISE PORT, GETTING AROUND, SHOPPING........................Page Two
PLACES OF INTEREST (Beaches).................................................Page Three
PLACES OF INTEREST (Christiansted)..........................................Page Four
PLACES OF INTEREST (Frederiksted)...........................................Page Five
There is evidence suggesting that St. Croix was inhabited by the Ingrei people as
early as 2500 BC. They were followed by the Taino and Arawak peoples who were in
turn displaced by the Carib Indians in the 14th Century.
Christopher Columbus is credited as being the first European to come to St. Croix,
which he named "Santa Cruz." During his second voyage to the New World in 1493,
his fleet of 17 ships landed near the Salt River in hopes of finding fresh water. Not
only did they not find fresh water but the landing party was attacked by Caribs, who
succeeded in driving off the Europeans.
Subsequently, the Caribs came to an understanding with the Spanish on neighboring
Puerto Rico under which the two groups co-existed. This eventually fell apart and the
Caribs aided the Tainos on Puerto Rico in an uprising against the Spanish. The Spanish
put down the uprising and ordered the extermination of the Caribs. This led the Caribs
to permanently abandon St. Croix.
Although Spain claimed the island, it made no attempt to establish a settlement. As
a result, the first European settlements were built by the English and the Dutch in the
1620s. At first, the two settlements co-existed peacefully but then the Dutch governor
killed the English governor and the English retaliated. This led to a series of battles for
the island with the Dutch eventually deciding to withdraw. However, in 1650, Spain
decided to assert its claim and violently evicted the British.
The Spanish did not stay long on the island. Seeing a power vacuum, first the Dutch
and then the French tried to occupy St. Croix. The French sent two ships and
succeeded in establishing a settlement in 1651. However, disease devastated the
Ten years later, Philippe de Poincy, who was governor of St. Kitts and also an
official of the Knights of Malta bought the island for the Knights. He brought in 300
planters from St. Kitts but was unable to make a profit. He sold it to the French West
Indies Company, which at first was successful growing sugar, cotton, tobacco and
indigo. But with bad administration, the colony began to decline. Eventually, the
island came under the French crown again. But by 1695, nearly all of the French
settlers had left the island.
Next to arrive was the Danish West Indies Company , which purchased the island
from France in 1733. The company in turn sold the island to the Danish crown some
two decades later. Christiansted was made the capital of the Danish Virgin Islands and
remained so until 1871 when it was moved to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. The
Danes allowed immigration from other European countries and soon there were
significant populations of English, Spanish Sephardic Jews, and French Huguenot
The Danes managed to succeed where the other European powers had failed but
only by unfortunate means. African slaves were imported to work the plantations.
This soon resulted in the profitable export of sugar, molasses, rum, cotton and hard
Denmark made it illegal to import slaves in 1803. Racial segregation was banned
in 1834. However, it was not until thousands of slaves descended upon Frederiksted in
July 1848 demanding freedom that the Danish Governor General Peter Von Scholten
proclaimed emancipation of the slaves throughout the Danish West Indies.
The sugar cane industry had been deteriorating ever since the 1820s when a viable
means of making sugar from beets was discovered. Without slave labor to support it,
the sugar cane industry on St. Croix went into decline. As the islands were no longer
profitable, Denmark offered to sell its islands to the United States for $5 million.
However, the two countries failed to reach a deal.
Seeing the strategic significance of the Danish islands in protecting the Panama
Canal, the United States re-opened negotiations after the outbreak of World War I.
Denmark also realized the value of its property had gone up and so it agreed to sell
them for $25 million. Consequently, St. Croix became a United States territory in 1917.
During the 20th Century, there were waves of immigration from Puerto Rico and
other Caribbean islands. In 1966, a large oil refinery was built on the island, giving a
much needed boost to the economy. An alumina plant also operated on St. Croix from
the 1960s until 2000. At the same time, tourism grew to be an important part of the
Above: St. Croix's verdant mountains offer spectaular views.
Below: The architecture of Christiansted, St. Croix's largest town, still reflects the days when the island was ruled by Denmark.
Cruise destination guide - - photo tour - - St. Croix - - page 1
* This photo tour and the accompanying commentary should only be viewed as a general guide that is based upon one writer's research
and experiences. Accordingly, readers should do their own research prior to their journey. Beyondships is not affiliated with any of the
entities depicted or mentioned herein and assumes no responsibility for their actions and for the products and/or services they provide.
Nor is inclusion in this photo tour a recommendation of the entity shown, its products, services or facilities.
The countryside of St. Croix is
dotted with ruins of the sugar
industry including plantation
buildings, slave quartes and
The site where Christopher
Comubus landed on St. Croix is
now park of the Salt River
National Park established in
The St. Croix oil refinery was
closed in February 2012.