Philipsburg, Sint Maarten - 8 December, 2005
The next day we arrived in Philipsburg the capital of St. Maarten. Half-Dutch, half-French this island combines the best of both nations.
Philipsburg where we docked is on the Dutch side and Marigot, is the capital of French St. Martin.
The smallest island in the world ever to have been partitioned between two different nations, St. Martin/St. Maarten has been shared by the French and the Dutch for almost 350 years.
Saint Martin is a tropical island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 300 km (186 miles) east of Puerto Rico. The southern Dutch half comprises the Eilandgebied Sint Maarten (Island area of St. Martin) and is part of the Netherlands Antilles. The northern French half comprises the Collectivité de Saint-Martin (Collectivity of St. Martin) and is an overseas collectivity of France.
There were a variety of shore excursions including bus tours, beach tours, catamaran sails, scuba tours, etc.
The Great Bay Beach is near where the ships dock. A water taxi takes you right to the beach or you can walk as well toward the beaches and the shopping area.
If your ship is docked it is great to go to the beach and head back to the ship for lunch and to change and then head back to town or on a shore excursion.
The island has large stretches of beautiful beaches and fantastic landscapes. Shopping in Philipsburg and Marigot is great with a lot of jewelry and watch stores.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
St. Maarten / St. Martin map
Sint Maarten / Saint Martin
- Location: Caribbean Sea
- Archipelago: Leeward Islands, Lesser Antilles
- Area: 87 km2 (34 sq mi)
- Highest point: Pic Paradis (414 m (1,360 ft))
- There is no river on the island
- Sint Maarten - Largest city: Philipsburg (pop. 1,338)
- Saint Martin - Largest city: Marigot (5,700)
- Population: 72,892 (as of January 1, 2006) 37,629 of whom lived on the Dutch side of the island, and 35,263 on the French side of the island. In addition there is an average of 1,000,000 tourist visitors per year.
- Language: French, English, Dutch, Papamiento
- Money: US$ are by far the most common but Euros and (to a lesser extent) the Netherlands Antilles Florin (or Guilder) are also used.
- circa 800AD Settled by Arawak Indians
- November 11, 1493 Claimed for Spain by Columbus, named Isla de Saint Martin, upon his arrival.
- 1624 Some French cultivate tobacco on French Quarter.
- 1631 Dutch small colony on Groot baai to collect salt.
- 1633–1647 Spanish army from Puerto Rico builds the first military fort, but after a few years destroy it and abandon the island forever.
- March 23, 1648 Divided into French (north) and Dutch (south) zones
- Spanish, Dutch, English and French occupy island.
- 1816 French and Dutch zones resumed.
Shopping on St Maarten and Saint Martin offers duty-free goods in numerous boutiques. Popular goods include local crafts & arts, exotic foods, jewelry, liquor, tobacco, leather goods, as well as most designer goods.
Princess Juliana International Airport. There is a small airport on the French side of the island at Grand Case, L'Espérance Airport for small jet and propeller planes serving neighbouring Caribbean islands.
Shore Excursions by Holland America
Adventure Snuba & Snorkel "Wreck' n Reefs"
Experience the wonders of the undersea world without a dive certification or cumbersome dive gear. As you cruise along the coast to the dive site, your guide will provide instructions on the easy-to-use SNUBA system (a 20-foot air hose connected to a tank on the surface). Jump into the water and explore the marine life with your guide and fellow adventurers, to a maximum depth of 20 feet. When you...
America's Cup Regatta
One of the best shore excursions in the Caribbean, the St. Maarten America’s Cup 12-Metre Regatta offers you the only opportunity in the Caribbean to race these exotic multimillion-dollar America’s Cup racing boats. Experience the exhilaration of America’s Cup yacht racing aboard Dennis Conner’s cup-winning Stars & Stripes or contenders Canada II or True North. You c...
Around the Island Art Tour
This tour takes you around Saint Martin's/Sint Maarten and through its charming local districts to visit the island's very own elite group of talented artists. Your tour will begin in picturesque Oyster Pond, where you’ll enter the quaint home and gallery of Dona Bryhiel. Dona is a well-known artist in the modern figurative style and mixed media. She has a very special flare using many rapid...
Discover Scuba Diving
Experience the thrill of breathing underwater and exploring the marine life beneath the surface. You’ll learn basic scuba diving concepts, and you will be taught some essential skills in the water under the supervision of an experienced PADI instructor. Having mastered the basic skills, you’ll enjoy your first real dive at one of the shallow dive sites. See a variety of fish, corals...
Explorer's Cruise & Grand Island Drive
Enjoy a scenic drive along the South Coast of the Island, meeting up with the large, spacious double-decked Explorer catamaran, waiting at the lagoon. Enjoy vast sundecks and shady areas with two bars offering unlimited free rum punch while you cruise through Simpson Bay Lagoon. View the homes of the rich and famous along the shoreline. Listen to great CDs of calypso tunes while being entertained ...
French Connection See & Sea
This 3 ½-hour tour combines the best of St. Martin—on land and beneath the ocean's surface. The accent is very much on cosmopolitan French St. Martin, a picturesque section of this two-nation island. Adding to its allure is its reputation as the gastronomic capital of the Caribbean. You’ll leave Philipsburg, on the Dutch side of the island, and drive up the east coast to the...
French Marigot & Butterfly Farm
Visit two countries on one island as your narrated tour, in an air-conditioned coach, takes you through the Dutch capital of Philipsburg, St. Maarten and over to the French side, St. Martin. At the Butterfly Farm, an entertaining facility guide will lead you through the lush enclosed tropical gardens for to see up close all stages of the butterflies’ life cycle. Don’t miss the oppor...
French Riviera Beach Rendezvous
Orient Bay is the “French Riviera of the Caribbean” with more than 1½ miles of white sand beaches. Upon arrival you will be greeted with a welcome rum or a fruit punch. Relax or swim at a location with the flavor of exotic European destinations. A delicious lunch of barbecue chicken, ribs or fish is served, with a beer, wine, soda or mixed drink. Lounge chairs and cushions are ...
Golden Eagle Catamaran
Sail aboard the Golden Eagle to a beautiful sandy beach on the calm side of St. Maarten. The vessel you will travel on is a 63-foot custom-designed catamaran built to SOLAS worldwide safety standards. Relax and enjoy an unforgettable experience while the crew pampers you. Laze in the shade of Golden Eagle’s hand-painted sails, lie in the nets or sit back in the captain’s cockp...
Mountain Top Downhill Trek
A fully narrated, air-conditioned bus ride will take you away from the hustle and bustle of modern life to experience the tranquility of Loterie Farm, an adventure, private nature reserve and historical site. After receiving a brief overview of the uniqueness of this property and receiving your complimentary bottled water you will climb aboard an open-air safari truck for the ascent to "Pic Par...
Natural Wonders of St. Maarten
Experience the full beauty of natural St. Maarten on a tour that takes you on a journey of discovery. After boarding an air-conditioned bus at the dock, you will take a scenic trip to some of St. Maarten/St. Martin’s best ecological attractions and areas. First you will travel past Philipsburg’s natural salt ponds. Your knowledgeable guide will provide interesting information regard...
Rhino Rider Tour by Personal Watercraft
Experience on-the-water excitement with a two-person Rhino Rider—a zippy little 10-foot inflatable motorboat, which is yours to command for a couple of hours of fun in the sun. Acquaint yourself with the boat then set out from the calm waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon, following your guide. You’ll maneuver safely through anchorages and alongside mega-yacht marinas before exiting the lag...
Sint Maarten Two Tank Dive
Certified divers can explore St. Maarten’s wrecks and reefs on this two-tank dive expedition. Frenchman’s, Gregory’s, Carib Cargo, Proselyte, Hen & Chicks and the Maze are just some of the dive sites visited. Your dive leaders will select the best dive destinations on the day of your dive, ranging from 45 to 70 feet in depth. Enjoy the dives and see the local marine life, inc...
St Maarten Buggy Ride
Take a fun buggy ride through the ins and outs of St Maarten. Feel the wind in your face and let it cool you down as you roam the countryside in a Scoot Coupe open-air buggy (maximum speed 25 miles per hour). Marvel at the contrast of green pastures, blue skies and azure waters; watch for seagulls and kilikili flying overhead. You’ll head caravan-style to Orient Beach (French St. Martin̵...
St. Maarten Afternoon Beach Bash
Unwind on one of the Caribbean's best beaches—Orient Bay. You will be supplied with a lounge chair and cushion in an area reserved just for you, and you will also enjoy unlimited rum or fruit punch. For approximately two hours you can just relax in the sun, swim or explore the 1 ½ miles of beach. Umbrellas and watersports equipment are available for rent.
Under Two Flags Island Drive
Discover the two worlds of St. Maarten/St. Martin, from the Dutch capital of Philipsburg to the French capital of Marigot. The island has been shared by Holland and France since 1648. You will board a modern air-conditioned motor coach to enjoy the charm and romance of this scenic island. Departing Philipsburg, you will travel past the once-great salt pond and up Mount William Hill for a beauti...
At Sea - 9 December, 2005
The next day was another day at sea. Lots of activities planned like kitchen tours, cooking classes, movies, crafts, children’s camps, fitness classes etc. A couple of us headed to the fitness area that was at the front of the ship, so an awesome view while you are riding the bikes or on the treadmill. We stayed in shape (needed to, after all we were eating) by walking the stairs in the ship when we were going to children’s camp area, to restaurants, to the shows, to the pools, to the shops, etc.
There were a few pools and hot tubs on the ships. One night they even had a BBQ by the pool area. The choice of restaurants included buffets; sit down formal meals, hot dogs and hamburgers by the pool, etc., so lots to choose from. We also found the staff very accommodating in the formal dining room for request. Even our child who is a very picky eater found the food great, the menu in for formal dining room had lots of choice for kids.
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