Tortola Island cruise port Road Town is located on Baughers Bay. The island is part of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) - a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, located to the east of Puerto Rico (USA). The other islands of the Virgin Islands archipelago constitute US Virgin Islands (USVI / aka American Virgin Islands) and Spanish Virgin Islands (Culebra and Vieques, both located to the east of Puerto Rico). The archipelago is part of Leeward Islands (Lesser Antilles). Road Town is located approx 22 mi (35 km) from Charlotte Amalie (St Thomas Island, USVI).
Tortola Island was named by Christopher Columbus (Italian explorer and colonizer, 1451-1506). The name means "land of the turtle dove”. Tortola BVI attracts cruise tourists with amazing beaches and the fact that Road Town is not so “commercialized” like most of Caribbean cruise ports. The island's official language is English.
On April 29, 2015, was officially opened the expanded Tortola cruise pier. The revamped facility was renovated, widened and lengthened to accommodate larger vessels. The opening ceremony was attended by BVI Government officials and cruise industry representatives. During the event was announced that NCL Norwegian and Disney ships would be bringing around 425,000 cruise tourists to Totrola Island per year, or a 21% increase over 2015.
The new cruise ship facility in Road Town was first used by the NCL ship Norwegian Getaway (berthing here on April 29 / on the pier's opening day). During pier's construction works, many cruise ships had to anchor and ferry their passengers via tender boats, which made the port less attractive for travelers. The exclusive agreement with NCL and Disney also caused other cruise lines (including Carnival) to drop Port Road Town from their Caribbean itineraries leaving roundtrip from the USA.
Tortola Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Tortola Island dock (anchor) at Road Town - port town on the central-southern coast. The port and its facilities are operated by BVI Port Authority. The city's business distict is within an easy walking distance from the port.
Smaller-sized luxury ships and superyachts often use for berthing or tendering the Soper’s Hole Marina (West Edn Tortola).
Road Town Cruise Pier (Tortola BVI)
Until 2015, Road Town port didn't have dedicated cruise terminal building.
With the new pier, Tortola cruise port has berthing capacity of two large-sized vessels at a time. If there are more than 2 vessels, one of them anchors in the bay and its passengers are tendered ashore to the Road Town Jetty. It is closer to the city center that the cruise pier.
Before the new pier project, at the end of the cruise pier was located a shelter where passengers were gathered before shore excursions / tours. The new termonal has a dedicated parking area. Local taxi service includes mini vans and safari cabs. There is a taxi rank at the pier (close to Wickham’s Cay or Soper’s Hole).
A BVI license is needed for car rentals. The license is easily obtainable with a valid US driver’s license and costs USD 10. Be aware to drive on the road’s left side!
Tourists willing to visit other British Virgin Islands from Tortola, there is a regularly scheduled ferry service. The island has two ferry terminals – at the west end (Soper’s Hole) and at the east end (Beef Island). Regular ferry services are offered between Tortola and Cruz Bay (St John Island, USVI).
Tortola Pier Park
The cruise port development project resulted in building a new cruise terminal building.
In 2014 started the construction works on the port's new cruise ship dedicated complex "Tortola Pier Park". The new docking pier was completed by December 2014. Its construction included a total of 123 piles that were driven into the seabed to support the above structure (retail buildings).
The expanded cruise pier has total length 1039 ft (317 m) and width 60 ft (18 m). Additional 273 ft (83 m) docking space is provided by mooring dolphins, giving a total berthing space 1312 ft (400 m). The pier's capacity is 2 ships at a time (each vessel up to 180,000 GT tons).
Dredging started in November. It was required to lower the seabed to 37,5 ft (11,5 m) allowing such max draft for docking cruise vessels. The project's scheduled completion of the pier was April 2015, with the entire "Tortola Pier Park" complex to be inaugurated in summer 2015.
The "Tortola Pier Park" building cost is around USD 75 million. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Disney Cruise Line were the projects main investors. Of the whole budget, USD 25 million were for the new pier and new excursion docks, Another USD 25 million were for the waterfront land development (area adjacent to the cruise pier). The BVI Government leased the land for a period of 48 years (with buy-out option at 15 and 30 years). The Tortola Pier Park design was developed by the the US company IDEA (Orlando FL-based). This is a leading cruise port designer company that specializes in marine and waterfront port developments.
A separate concrete slap was built to support the flagship restaurant (part of the Pier Park). The entire park includes 17 buildings, among which the cruise terminal, passenger welcome center, 2 restaurants, 1 pier bar, 1 shopping market, 1 chapel, 1 boat museum, 18 tourist kiosks. The park's 2 main buildings are sized each approx 8000 ft2 (750 m2).
The construction plan was to transform Road Town's waterfront into a marketplace with festive events and tourist attractions. The waterfront development included building a new shopping village (with trolly cars for cruise passengers to explore it) plus a ferris wheel.
On February 16, 2016 was inaugurated the Tortola Pier Park. Prior its construction, British Virgin Islands received around 370,000 cruise passengers annually. For the 1 year period since the park's opening, BVI received almost 700,000 passengers. The new terminal's statistics for that period showed 11 maiden ship calls.
For the summer 2017, Tortola Pier Park planned special cruise terminal events, featuring live concerts and fun family activities.
Tortola Island tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Bomba’s Surfside Shack: located in Cappoon’s Bay. It is interesting palce to visit famous with its mushroom tea, Bomba Punch and logos saying “Girls with big boops: give Bomba a hug” and “Get naked for Bomba”. The decoration features bras and panties.
- Sailing the British Virgin Islands: the best way to experience the islands. There are a lot of possibilities to enjoy the amazing blue and crystal water.
- Scuba Diving: the best area is north from Tortola cruise port. You can easily access the place (Smuggler’s cove) walking. There is a vendor where you can rent all the equipment.
- Willie T’s Floating Bar&Restaurant: the original wooden restaurant sank in 1995. This is the second one dating from 1996. You can enjoy nice cuisine and great party onboard. The restaurant leaves the Nanny Cay Marina at 5PM and returns usually at 11PM.
- Cruise Industry
The BVI-British Virgin Islands government agreed on conditions to allow cruise liners for short-term berthing at BVI Ports Authority’s Cruise...September 14, 2020
The cruise liner Costa Favolosa docked a day early in Philipsburg (St Maarten Island, Dutch Antilles) after being denied entry in Tortola Island...February 27, 2020
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