December 12: Sint Maartin and Saint Martin

We landed at the city of Philipsburg in Sint Maartin, the Dutch half of the island.
Sint Maartin map showing tour route
The map above shows the route we took on a tour of the island.

A Christmas tree welcomed us to Sint Maartin The large van that took us around. View of Great Bay

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.

View of Simpson Bay Lagoon Sign near the lookout on Cole Bay Hill New development being built on Cole 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.

Marker at the border between the Dutch and French parts of the island. Yachts moored at the town of Marigot The market in Marigot

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.

Fresh fruit in the market A wide variety of spices including safran(sic) and curry. A fish monger fillets his fish.

The food market had vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables. There were also spice merchants and fish mongers.

La Sucriere French Bakery and Pastry Some of the French pastries for sale. Ornately decorated cakes.

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.

Handicrafts market Ornate wooden boxes Hand-made jewelery

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.

Sailing ship used for tourist excursions The large van that took us around Bikini beach on Orient Bay

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.

Kite surfing at Bikini Beach Nancy, Mary Ann and Melissa pose in front of a Christmas Tree. Farewell sign on Sint Maartin

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.

At least three cruise ships were in port today Departing before the other two cruise ships

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.

Some of the chocolate dessert buffet at supper Desserts for those on a diet. A towel monkey hanging from the ceiling.

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.