ST. JOHN CRUISES

The most tranquil and unspoiled of the U.S. Virgins, St. John is more than half national park, with miles of serpentine hiking trails, ruins of 18th-century Danish plantations, and panoramic ocean views. A few ships moor directly off St. John, but those that dock in neighboring St. Thomas usually offer excursions here as well, via ferry, to access St. John’s pristine white-sand beaches and ecotourist sensibilities. Surrey-style taxis take visitors around the small island.

Top draw Founded in 1956 by the wealthy Rockefeller family, Virgin Islands National Park (www.nps.gov/viis ) includes over two-thirds of St. John’s landmass, plus submerged land and water

Adjacent to the island.

Slice of history Within the national park, the Annaberg Ruins, on Leinster Bay Road, are all that’s left, of the island’s plantations and sugar mill, founded by Danish settlers in 1718.

Top beaches The great white sweep of Trunk Bay is all too often overcrowded, but it’s still worth visiting for its underwater snorkeling trail near the shore. Snorkelers also find good reefs at Cinnamon Bay and Maho Bay, a great place to spot turtles and schools of parrotfish.

Local color Most cruise passengers enter through Cruz Bay, a cute little West Indian village with intriguing bars, restaurants, boutiques, and pastel-painted houses.

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