What to know about your visit to the United States Virgin Islands

USVI visit

In June last year, after the epidemic, the Virgin Islands of the United States (Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, and Saint John) were the first Caribbean locations to reopen to guests. Although a brief shutdown was needed for the following epidemic, arrivals steadily rose, with the number of vaccinations rising on the continent and people felt more confident about their journey after its reopening in Sept. If you plan your journey to any of the islands, you need to know before you go.


PHOTO: St Croix, US Virgin Islands. (photo via JulieHewitt/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

You are going to apply

Visitors must now apply for authorization beforehand, as is the case in all Caribbean countries. You will do this online at usvitravelportal.com, which provides evidence that you either obtained a negative PCR test, a rapid/antigenic negative test, or a positive antibody test within 5 days of your arrival in Iceland. Note that currently, vaccinated passengers are NOT exempt from testing.


Waterfront, USVI (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Are Full Flights

Since last November, I've been on six Caribbean flights, none of them with more than 50 people. However, in June my flights to and from St. Croix were over-sold, leaving the gate as crowded as before. The USVI's closeness to the US is undoubtedly a factor that contributes to economic growth on the islands, plus the fact that American visitors do not require a passport. Travelers seeking the lowest costs and the largest available availability must reserve far in advance.


Buccaneer Sugar Mill (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

Booked Hotels

The Buccaneer was an average occupancy of 85% throughout my visit to the 130-room resort on St. Croix, where I stayed. Anecdote proves that other island hotels are also doing strong business – and the numbers I noticed in Christiansted and on my half-day sail to adjacent Buck island. It is often a problem to locate a rental automobile so book as soon as possible.


The Buccaneer, USVI (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

May Slow Service

Many hotels continue to operate with decreased employee levels, despite increasing occupancy numbers. Some seasoned hospitality professionals abandoned the business after epidemic layoffs. Others, it has been claimed, prolongs their return to work until the supplementary pandemic payments of the U.S. government stop. I met numerous new employees in island companies. These variables combine to make service slower than ordinary. My recommendation: pack your patience; all do their best.


Christiansted (Photograph through Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

You still have to mask up

USVI rules mandate masks in public, public, and indoor transit venues (unless dining or during exercise). I'm happy to see that the Buccaneer, the Christiansted shops and its streets have been well adhered to. Many people wore their masks all the way while traveling to Buck Island. We were on a deck open so it might not have been required. However, it was nevertheless warm to see that travelers stayed alert, even on holiday.


Buck Island, USVI (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

A return test is not necessary.

Since the tourists returning from St. Thomas or St. Croix and St. John are considered United States territory, the exemption from CDC's need to provide documentation of a COVID negative result within three days following arrival for all inbound travelers. In Henry E. Rohlsen airports at St. Croix, I cleared the customs and immigration of the U.S. and breezed over the mainland once back at Miami International Airport.


St. Croix Airport (Photo via Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)

On the Island, you may get vaccinated

In April Joseph Boschulte, USVI Tourism Commissioner, stated "we are not stopping them or prohibiting them from taking the vaccine," whereby the non-resident vaccinations seem to be a benefit for tourists on the ground. UVI citizens 16 or older have been vaccinated since March, with excellent supplies reported on the islands. Since there is no vaccination residence requirement, tourists have made two journeys to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for their first and second dosage. Others stayed for long enough to achieve both and to further strengthen the tourist sector.


PHOTO: COVID-19 vaccine. (photo via MarsBars / E+)

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