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St. Kitts Railway...tell me more

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We will be in St Kitts this summer and have been eyeing the Railway tour. I would love to hear your opinions or experiences with this excursion.

 

thanks

 

Judy

 

Till our Golden Princess

Cruise

 

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Judy,

 

We were in St. Kitts in Feb and found this island to be one of most favorite. As for the railway tour, we do not recommend this. Many of our fellow passengers were disappointed that they booked this, especially at the price they paid. This "railway" is much like the kiddie gauge trains at amusement parks across the USA, and is not comfortable. In addition, because of the layout of the tracks, it does not give you at in depth look at the island, meaning you cannot get off and explore many of the important historical sites like Brimstone Fortress, or stores like Caribelle Batik, because of their proximity and distance from the rail line.

We took a private tour by a local guide who we met when we got off ship. It was cheap and by far the best excursion we had in 7 days. Gave us a real feel for the island, its history, its people, architecture, and flora/fauna. If you are interested in this type of thing, email me at jcl1965@aol.com and I will be happy to provide you with contact information, as I am not permitted to post this on here due to cruisecritic rules and regulations.

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Hi Judy,

Here is another opinion: We did the Scenic Railway Tour on April 1, 2004 and it was the best excursion during our 10 day cruise in the Caribbean. Please look at the new Webpage stkittsscenicrailway.com to get some information. It is not a cheap tour: $ 89.00, but is very relaxing and you will learn a lot about geography, history and economy of St. Kitts. The railway cars have comfortable 28 seats on the 1 st floor (with A/C and bathroom) and 28 seats on the top floor (open-air), for only 24 passengers total per car. From the top floor you have a wunderful view over the sugar cane fields. During the hole trip you get interesting information and free drinks. You travel approx. 3/4 of the trip by train before a bus brings you back to the ship terminal. The train passes through villages (where you realize that not everybody enjoys the American standard of life) and you see also the old sugar estates. Our ship (Summit, Celebrity) was the only ship in port and this tour was sold out for both start times. If you take the early start (10:30) you can visit Basseterre in the afternoon. The tour has to be booked through your cuiseline. I highly recommand this tour!

Peter

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Peterm,

Thank you for the information. I think we will do this.

 

Judy

 

Cruisin in July on the Golden Princess

 

 

 

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One of the Cruise Critic buddies we met on our Golden Princess cruise last week took this scenic railway tour and RAVED about it. She said it was one of her favorite excursions.

 

Golden Princess 5/2004 (Southern)

Golden Princess 3/2003(Eastern)

Grand Princess 5/2002 (Western)

Grand Princess 5/1999 (Eastern)

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I was in St. Kitts in Feburary. We saw the railway. Our private tour guide (booked through Shoretrips.com) explained why it broke down all the time - the tracks are really only about a foot apart and it was designed to transport sugar cane from the fields. He pointed out one of the trains they were intended for - they were very small - almost like the ones kids use in some small parks here. Then he showed us the passenger trains they are running. They are huge. According to our guide, who was a local, the tracks just can't take the weight so they often don't work. I was initially a little disappointed that I hadn't taken it, as I enjoy trains of all types and had never ridden a sugar train. Many cruisers on these boards advised against it and when I did see it, I was glad I went with an all day tour where I saw the whole island for about half the price. You don't see the whole island from the train either.

 

Again, sorry if I seem negative, and if you go, I hope you enjoy it. I'm just passing on results of some of my pre-trip research, wisdom of earlier posters on these boards, and my personal observations having seen the train. I'm sure it is a wonderful experience as long as you get it on a day when it is working.

 

Good luck and enjoy your trip. St. Kitts is my favorite island! I'm jealous!

 

Ann

 

 

Admiral Cruise Lines Emerald Seas (Bahamas) 10/88

NCL Majesty (W. Caribbean) 1/2003

NCL Sky (Deep So. Caribbean) 2/2004

RCI Voyager of the Seas (Bahamas and E. Caribbean) 11/27/04

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We did the train in April 2005 and loved it! Would go again in a heartbeat! The cars are not "kiddy" sized at all. Very comfortable. And the views are breathtaking!

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The narrow gauge track on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway is 30 inches wide (2 1/2 feet). This was a regular size for British-built light railways at the turn of the century. In fact, the famous White Pass & Yukon Railroad out of Skagway, Alaska is only 36 inch gauge (3 feet), or only 6 inches wider that the railway in St. Kitts. So it is not a kiddie train gauge. Narrow gauge roads like these opened up the US and Canadian West, and were built by the British all over the world to haul freight and passengers.

 

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway does not break down all of the time. Yes, it was built to haul sugar cane, but it has been upgraded to carry passengers and run passenger trains. The sugar cane trains that ran on the track previous to the upgrade were indeed small equipment, but they were also very inefficient because they were TOO small, and the 30 inch gauge track could easily have carried equipment 5 times larger than what was being used. The inefficiency was part of the reason the sugar industry finally closed in July 2005, leaving only the Scenic Railway operation left standing.

 

Simply put, the local person that capsfan talked to was wrong about the Scenic Railway. The tracks CAN and do take the weight of the new trains and new passenger cars. Though they have a top observation deck and look "big" (or tall) the railroad says that they were specifically designed for this railway line, and (though there were some initial operating issues in the first few months after they opened back in January 2003) the cars have worked very well ever since, and are very popular with their air- conditioned lower level and 360 degree view open upper deck level.

 

Finally, you see 18 miles of the island by railway train, and 12 miles of the island by sightseeing bus (the Railway owns a fleet of these buses that connect to the train for this), and circle the whole island (30 miles) in only 3 hours, dock to dock. I was told by the General Manger of the Railway that they will have successfully carried over 100,000 passengers by the end of this season.

 

It is an enjoyable way to see the entire country (the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis is the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemishere!) in a very short time by train and bus. I recommend it to anyone interested in scenic railway sightseeing trips.

 

Rail Traveler

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My wife and I took the St. Kitt's Scenic Railway excursion in April, 2010 and it was wonderful. Not a kiddie ride, but a charming journey into the history and exquisite beauty of the island. Each passenger has two seats, one on the first deck (air conditioned) and one on the top deck (open air). The car hosts were friendly and informative, it was fun to get to know them and see their island, which they love, through their eyes. The drinks were complimentary, and the service was excellent. An a cappella vocal trio sang island songs for us at several points during the trip. The numerous high trestles enable the rail line to traverse the rugged coastline, with stunning, panoramic views of the sea on one side and the lush mountains towering on the other. This was a real highlight of our cruise.

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I was in St. Kitts in Feburary. We saw the railway. Our private tour guide (booked through Shoretrips.com) explained why it broke down all the time - the tracks are really only about a foot apart and it was designed to transport sugar cane from the fields. He pointed out one of the trains they were intended for - they were very small - almost like the ones kids use in some small parks here. Then he showed us the passenger trains they are running. They are huge. According to our guide, who was a local, the tracks just can't take the weight so they often don't work. I was initially a little disappointed that I hadn't taken it, as I enjoy trains of all types and had never ridden a sugar train. Many cruisers on these boards advised against it and when I did see it, I was glad I went with an all day tour where I saw the whole island for about half the price. You don't see the whole island from the train either.

 

Again, sorry if I seem negative, and if you go, I hope you enjoy it. I'm just passing on results of some of my pre-trip research, wisdom of earlier posters on these boards, and my personal observations having seen the train. I'm sure it is a wonderful experience as long as you get it on a day when it is working.

 

Good luck and enjoy your trip. St. Kitts is my favorite island! I'm jealous!

 

Ann

 

 

 

It seems that most of the negative comments come from people that have not taken the railroad tour.

It is ridiculous to say that the track is one foot wide. It is not one foot wide.

Both me and my wife very much enjoyed the train and would do it again.

I would say that if it is your first trip to the island that there are other things to do first.

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I saw a film on the Discovery Channel about the train and it looked great. The scenery was quite amzing. I'm sure it is even better in person. Go for it!:)

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As I've said on other posts on this subject, the St. Kitt's RR is a wonderful experience. My wife and I did it several years ago while aboard the Carnival Miracle. It is a combination bus and train trip. You need to remember that this was originally a working train associated with the island's sugar cane industry, so everything you see isn't paradise, but what this (or any other) Caribbean Island is really like. Please know, however, that the majority of what you see will be truly breathtaking. Also, the "locals" working aboard the train are very proud of their country, and are anxious to present that pride to their visitors.

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The line was built between 1912-1926. The rails are 30" apart. One thing I noticed is that the ties are laid right on the ground while in the states we see a rock ballast under the ties. The roadbed is not raised above the ground very much so it seem like there is a lot of dirt that gets washed in and covers the rails in places. Only about 18 miles are used for the tour with about 12 miles not being used.

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We did the Rail Tour and enjoyed it. Very relaxing and great way to see the island and learn of their culture. Several people stand on their porches and wave as we went by. They also furnished unlimited drinks of all kinds. :D

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For those of you who went on this through a Carnival cruise, did you book it before you left or did you wait until you actually boarded the ship? I'm still undecided on what I want to do on this island, but I wanted to know if my group would miss out if we waited until we got on the cruise an other people filled all of the spots.

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My husband and I have some mobility issues so this seems to be a good option for us while on St. Kitts from the Carnival Miracle in February, 2011.

 

What type of seats are they ? Like a bus? Bench type seats or individual seats?

 

Should we book in advance through Carnival or should we book directly with the St. Kitts railway ?

 

Tell me about the steps that you must climb to get to the upper deck. Are they narrow, steep, winding ? I question whether either of us can handle those, especially while the train is in motion.

 

I know some comments have been negative. Do you have any feelings of being unsafe as you ride the rails ?

 

I appreciate your help in determining if this will work for us.

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One more question. Is there food available either snacks or anything? I know you mentioned drinks were provided. Thanks.

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It has been several years since I've done the trip but I think it was one of my favorite excursions and probably one of the most friendly to those with mobility problems. I found the cars more accessible than many tour buses.

 

I remember the stairs to the upper deck to be somewhat narrow and steep and there is a 90 degree turn half way up. It is certainly not a problem for a normal person but could be difficult if you are very large or have more serious mobility issues. I would let the others go up and then take my time climbing the stairs if you feel up to it. You've got all the time in the world and the narrow stairway may help give you support. The view and fresh air on top is quite nice so I would give it a try. If you can't make it up the stairs then you just get a nice seat on the lower level in the air conditioning.

 

The train does rock back and forth a bit when moving but it only goes about 10 miles an hour (tops) so scary was never on my mind. Little kids ran along side the train so it's certainly not high speed. It can be spooky if you peer over the edge when crossing a bridge... keep your head inside and it won't be an issue (and the bridges are not very high).

 

We did not get "food". We got a piece of sugar cake. Think of it as a cookie. I'd sneak some snacks from the ship if you think you will get hungry.

 

Like most of the Tropics rain happens. The top deck is covered but some rain did blow into the upper deck. The showers were short lived when we were there and it was not enough to chase anyone off the upper deck. Just have a bag (camera bag, purse...) to help keep your camera dry.

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Thanks, Pilotdane, You have answered questions I had not even thought of. We will book this for sure. It sounds like just the perfect way for us to see St. Kitts.

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So, when you say quickly, how far in advance are you thinking? Our visit is over 7 months away and I am considering this, but wondering how far in advance I need to book it. Ours will be the only cruise ship in port that day. I am looking at the tour that includes Brimstone through the Tour Store.

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I recently Emailed the St. Kitts store, and their reply to me was , "Book it through the cruise line."

Hmm....:rolleyes:

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I recently Emailed the St. Kitts store, and their reply to me was , "Book it through the cruise line."

Hmm....:rolleyes:

Did you go through stkittstourstore.com? On the website, click "How to Book" and fill out the information. They should e-mail you a confirmation form to fill out and fax back.

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One needs to book this through the cruise line. When a ship is in port they do not allow you to book at the dock or from other place.

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We went on the train last Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. You do see a lot of the island both coast/inland and the information given was very interesting. Locals love seeing the tourists and they all wave as you pass. We were given drinks - included in the price. Most enjoyable. We were told that you could only get tickets with the cruise ship. My husband does love trains so we just paid the price and enjoyed!

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