Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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A few showers, clearing!
A tiny island of maybe 30,000 people it is divided between French St Martin and Dutch St Maarten and each territory is very different.
Good old Christopher Columbus claimed the island for Spain in 1493 but it remained uninhabited until the French and Dutch arrived in 1629 and from then on these two nations and the British juggled the tiny place between them. Many years later the present day independence of the Dutch and French side was established and peaceful coexistence now exists.
Like most of the Caribbean Islands tourism is huge and we can understand why when we docked here- there were 6 cruise ships in port with 20,000+ passengers spilling into the town of Philipsburg with money to spend and shopping for duty free goods on the mind. OK many lounge on the beautiful beaches and take tours but shopping is big!
Philipsburg is a much more attractive and better maintained town than the ports of Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua, and there is a beautiful beach right in town walking distance from the ships.
The three of us had stayed in St Maarten in Sheila's sister’s time share apartment in 2001 for a week so we had explored the island in detail. Today we walked into town and spent a couple of hours looking around and taking pictures. The weather was a lot kinder than it was on that visit in the summer July- today it was warm, sunny and a sea breeze was cooling.
It seems that 40% of the island population is foreign with European and Caribbean migration making an interesting mix. Heineken beer is still only $1, the same price as a coke or bottled water!! We did not find a good espresso coffee place because why drink coffee at $3 a cup when you can drink an icy cold beer for a 3rd of the price.
Another day in port, another lovely Caribbean island and thousands of tourists having fun together. These visits are just a tiny taste of the ambience and culture of your destination because cruising is more about the luxury on board- no cooking, cleaning etc.; no looking for accommodation or a good restaurant or packing, just getting up and enjoying the ships facilities and service.
We treated ourselves to time in the spa pools until dinner time!