Never Say Never.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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MS Noordam

Flag of Saint Martin  ,
Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seven years ago we sat on the beach at Phillipsburg St Maarten and watched the cruise ship passengers pour off five massive cruise ships. We were travelling independently in the Caribbean and vowed that we would NEVER EVER be one of those passengers. No, you would NEVER see us hoarded into groups and given 5 hours in Port to "see" a country. 

Whoops! - here we are arriving in St Maarten as cruise passengers on the very large MS Noordam. OK there is a reason and a story as to our change of heart and it involves an almost inaccessible Fjiord in Alaska, and extremely bad weather. Here is a quick recap. Step back to 2011 when we travelled all year and mapped out how we would complete the last few of the 40 sites we wanted to experience from a travel book. We researched how we could best get to College Fjiord and doing a cruise was really the only way, save hiring a charter plane. So we booked a Holland America Alaskan cruise that specifically included the fjord in its itinerary. A massive storm front hit on day one of the cruise and the Captain took the ship out to sea to avoid the storm. As a result we didn't get to College Fjord or anything else much, but Holland America graciously gave a sizable credit which could be applied for a future cruise. Only problem is that Holland America took College Fjord off all their 2012/13 itineraries! So with a cruise credit and a "use by" date looming we decided it would be the Caribbean. A special deal came up online for a suitable date and itinerary with the only exception being it did repeat one port of call we had been to already - St Maarten.   
We alighted the ship on a mission. Our mission was to find the scene again of one of our oft told travel tales from 2005 of being threatened by a  machette toting Carib while eating dinner. As we made our way through town, the smells and sights brought so many familiar memories;

 "There's the beach bar we had a drink on the first day"

 “There’s the hotel we stayed in – it still looks the same”   

“Remember that little lane way we used to cut through to the beach”

But when it came to the actual restaurant where the event happened we could not agree on the place. None of the restaurants in the vicinity immediately clicked as being the one and we strolled up and down peering in and considering what changes may have been wrought over seven years to make the restaurant unrecognisable. We remembered it had steps up off the beach sand and a large tree but many a tree could have been cut down in seven years and most of the existing restaurants had steps. We narrowed it down to two and had to be content with the fact that we were not going to be able to definitively say “this was the place”.
It had been a lot of fun doing the memory lane wander but the day was getting hot and we had an “all onboard” time looming for our cruise ship so we fronted a beach bar offering icy cold guavaberry coladas heavily laced with rum and enjoyed a last taste of St Maarten.  

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