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St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

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Royal Caribbean returns to St. Croix

AP-1 Dec, 2004

Despite its white sand beaches, coral reefs and historic sites including centuries-old sugar mills, St. Croix has been bypassed recently by most tourists cruising the Caribbean.

That is about to change on Tuesday, as Royal Caribbean cruise ships begin making twice-weekly overnight stops in the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The return of Royal Caribbean comes two years after most major cruise lines suspended visits to St. Croix, citing crime and saying there wasn't enough for passengers to do.

St. Croix went from hosting an average of 230,000 passengers annually to 2,300 from smaller cruise companies.

Starting Tuesday night, passengers will be allowed to disembark again on the island and explore downtown Frederiksted. Although Miami-based Royal Caribbean says the primary purpose is to refuel on an island that is home to an oil refinery, St. Croix also will be on display in its effort to win back visitors.

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©2004 The Beach, US Virgin Islands