St. Kitts, with Nevis in the background

In a veritable sea of white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, St. Kitts & Nevis stand out from the Caribbean crowd: Their big draw for travelers is a rich cultural history. People come to see the capital’s Georgian architecture; to explore Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and to ride the “sugar train,” a scenic trip on tracks that once carried sugar from outlying plantations to the factory in Basseterre, the country’s capital. (And yes, there are beaches, albeit with slightly darker sand and choppier waters than you’ll find elsewhere.)


St. Kitts & Nevis—two islands that together make up a single country—is watching its tourism development carefully. It has seen exponential growth in recent years, thanks in large part to cruise ship traffic. But government officials have so far refused to build a second cruise pier that would handle even more traffic. You might think that would rankle cruise lines eager to develop a new port of call. But Royal Caribbean Cruises, which owns most of the ships calling at Basseterre, is actually helping St. Kitts & Nevis to make sure its growth is sustainable. The cruise company provided financial assistance so that the islands could become an early adopter of the GSTC’s new Criteria for Destinations. Says Diannille Taylor-Williams, Assistant Permanent Secretary for the country’s Ministry of Tourism & International Transport, “We want to sustain what we have for generations to come. With the criteria, we can tell whether or not we’re on the right track.”