Day 2: St. Maarten/Sint Martin
Date: 22 April 2018
Port: Philipsburg, St. Maarten (Dutch side)
Time on Island: 8am-4:30pm
Distance between San Juan and St. Maarten: 372.04 km or 200.75 nautical miles (231.17 miles)
First port of the trip and Darren and I were eager to start out pre-booked tour through Viator. We decided against booking directly through Royal Caribbean strictly because of our budget. We also knew that by doing so, we’d need to be aware of the time restrictions in order to NOT miss the boat. This was my port to book (divide and conquer) and after much research, I was able to find a half-day, all inclusive (yes, this means alcohol) Shore Excursion sightseeing tour that left from Phillipsburg, STM (Dutch-side), where our ship ported through Viator.com. Our tour, Sint Maarten Shore Excursion: Island Sightseeing Tour from Philipsburg was only $44 USD each and left at 10 am, which gave us a little extra time in the morning!
This excursion, although listed as 4.5 hours, did go a little longer, roughly 6 hours, but no one seemed to care. Wellington was a FANTASTIC tour guide, tailored the energy level to the tour group, never faltered with cracking jokes, included each person, and made the day beyond fun even with the extensive hurricane damage exhibited in every inch of the island. He was very informative and did not hold back when explaining the history, culture and differences between pre- and post- hurricane life.
We started our morning driving from the Dutch side to the French side stopping at an overlook, before continuing to Orient Beach. Orient Beach is famously known for as the nudist beach of Sint Marteen, and despite the wide spread devastation seen, it was populated with quite a bit of people. From Orient Beach, we made our way to the French Capital of Marigot for lunch, with an Iguana pitstop. Yes, an Iguana stop, fairly entertaining but, no thanks.
Marigot, was quite damaged but the people were so kind and you could really see their love for their island. At this point, many drinks had been consumed and Darren and I had become extremely close with two other shipmates, Karen and Richard. But we weren’t finished with the tour.
We continued through the streets of Sint Marteen/Saint Martin heading towards the FAMOUS airport and Maho Beach. It broke my heart to see more of the devastation Hurricane Irma did to this small islands airport (still operating from tents), but I was excited to see the famous beach. Unfortunately, we missed the large airplane land, so only got witnessed smaller putter planes. There was a large jet that took off from the airport and Richard and Darren chose to stand behind the jets, where I chose to video tape it. After a short stop, we continued to an overlook before making our way back to the ship, and slightly intoxicated.
Once back to the port, we didn’t stop the party. One of the famous things Sint Marteen is known for is their guava berries, so in true Caribbean fashion, we ended our time in port with a frozen guava berry rum punch! No only refreshing for an extremely hot day, but a perfect end to Sint Marteen/Saint Martin!
To end our Day 2, Darren and I were invited for dinner by our new friends Karen and Richard, however Darren and I weren’t ready for an early dinner since it was “formal night” and we had made reservations for 8 PM at one of the dining centers and OH. MY. GOSH was it DELICIOUS! Easily one of the best fancy dinner’s I’ve had!
We did have a slight dilemma/mishap, as Darren’s formal shirt went missing for hours, but everything turned out okay and Royal Caribbean was quick to correct the error by giving us a bottle of champagne and everything turned out okay. We ended out night with another game show and a few drinks. We really did love those game shows.