Once the ship had been cleared, we went ashore. At the welcome center we joined a circle tour of the island with several other cruise passengers. We traveled in a nice air-conditioned white van. As we left Philipsburg we got a nice view of Great bay.
From a lookout on Cole Bay Hill we could see the many sailboats moored in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. There was an interesting sign posted near the lookout – right beside a souvenir vendor’s shop. From this vantage point we could see a new development that was being built on the slope above Cole Bay.
Before long we came to the boundary between the Dutch and the French parts of the island. There is no customs or immigration post – just a concrete marker where you cross the border. As we approached the French town of Marigot we could see many large yachts moored in the small boat harbor. In Marigot we stopped for half an hour or so to let us explore the market area. One area featured spices and extracts.
The food market had vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables. There were also spice merchants and fish mongers.
Across the street from the food market was La Sucriere which specialized in French Pastry. There were hundreds of delicious looking French pasteries for sale. There were also several refrigerated showcases of very elaborately decorated cakes. It appears that Europeans decorate cakes much more elaborately than North Americans.
The handicraft area was the main part of the market. There was a wide variety of handicrafts and souvenirs for sale to the many tourists who visit the island.
We passed a sailing ship that is used for sightseeing jaunts with tourists. Our last stop on the tour was at Bikini Beach on Orient Bay on the northeast corner of the island. There were lots of sunbathers as well as swimmers out in the water.
There were a couple of kite surfers at Bikini Beach. They were able to steer their kites so they could go from one side of the beach to the other and back again. From here our tour bus driver drove us straight back to Philipsburg. As we walked back towards the ship the girls paused to pose in front of an elaborately decorated Christmas tree.
There were at least two other cruise ships visiting the island today. When we sailed away at 5:00 PM, the other two ships were still in port.
There was a chocolate dessert buffet for supper that evening. There were rich chocolate treats and some with no sugar added for those on a diet. When we returned to our cabin, we found that our cabin steward has made a towel monkey and hung it from the ceiling.