By Scott S. Bateman
The Santo Tomás de Castilla passenger terminal is the only attraction for tourists at the cruise port.
This warehouse-type building also has the only shopping, dining and entertainment for the entire port. That fact is the result of the port receiving a small number of ships each year.
The outside of the terminal has only excursion buses, shuttles and related booths.
That said, the terminal has enough shopping, dining and entertainment to keep cruise passengers busy for at least a few hours if they so wish.
They can visit before or after any shore excursions. We spent two hours there during our visit in the morning and spent the rest of the afternoon on a shore excursion.
Passengers who walk into the front entrance will see a booth of the Guatemala Tourism Commission straight ahead with some helpful guides and information.
The entertainment stage often has a steady stream of quality performers while ships are in port.
A series of booths have food, beverages and alcohol for sale at some of the least expensive prices we have seen in any Caribbean port. Quite a few cruise ship passengers take advantage of beer prices that are much less expensive than what they pay on the ship.
Likewise, the arts and crafts booths also have inexpensive items for sale. An attractive, high-quality Guatemala T-shirt that caught my attention was priced at $10. The vendor almost immediately dropped it to $9.
When I hesitated, she dropped it again to $8. My conscience couldn’t let me push her for anything lower, so I accepted the $8 price. In contrast, many tourist shops in Caribbean ports have T-shirts of similar quality going for $15 to $20, and shopkeepers often don’t negotiate.
Anyone who plans to spend a limited amount of money during a western Caribbean cruise that includes Santo Tomás de Castilla might want to wait until reaching this port. For some people, one T-shirt or a few pieces of jewelry is enough to buy on one cruise.
- Scott S. Bateman