Sint Maarten, one of the Caribbean Cruise favourites

Jean goes from the Dutch side to the French side, ‘Saint Martin’, by public bus and back the the Dutch side, ‘Sint Maarten’, with time to spare.

Columbus saw this island on the 11th November, 1493, Saint Martin’s day, the rest is history, though, there was much history before that history. he claimed it as Spanish without even landing there. The French and the Dutch however did land there and take a liking to it. Why not, it is rather special and has much to make you feel at home. Philipsburg is the capital on the Dutch side. The Dutch used it as a halfway stage between New Amsterdam (now New York) and Brazil. It is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands until the bus gets a few miles down the road, then on the northern side, 60% of the island is part of the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin. The capital is Philipsburg and it is where the port is and where your ship is likely to dock. It is a fifteen minute walk to the beach or a water taxi.

Sint Maarten is a vibrant island with many diverse flavours; the French creole feel, a bit New Orleans and a lot Caribbean. It all hits you as you land, vibrant colours, a party feel and music. The wall graffiti / murals / art are also in keeping with that theme. Not being an over developed place there are nice two story apartments right on the beach that are easy to rent, and as you go back from the beach, one block back are the shops, two blocks back the resort starts to fade into housing and you can get the local bus. Take a look, that is the easy way. You can rent quad bikes, buggy and many versions of transport very near the port.

Dutch side of St Marteen

We walked the sea front quite quickly, and paddled in the sea. The seaway only goes up and down the sea front and there was no ‘must do this’ feel from those operating what was a very expensive sweaty, so that we passed on. There is a Hard Rock Cafe which I have not been in since Panama before going through the canal many years ago, but it had a real charm as do all the buildings that keep to a style.

The shops are nice and there is a claim that they are good for electrical goods, but I am not sure the world traveller would see that logic. But they are worth a look. Not wishing to lunch or drink we headed a few blocks back to take us to the French side, it was still late morning.

French side, St Martin

The bus says Marigot on the front, so that is easy enough. The name of the French capital. got us there surprisingly quickly. There is a market on the front, boats and shops. You could be in a small French Riviera resort. Here you can take a ferry to other close islands, Anguilla and St Barts and there was definitely a feel that we could have done that had we left the ship and hit the bus first up. The ferry to Anguilla leaves every 35 to 45 minutes and takes just 20 minutes to cross. It was under $15.

However we headed for the hill over looking the bay. The ruins of a fort built to protect them against much piracy. Again, we did this without a guide, it was easy to find and the exorcise was not too taxing though Doris should perhaps not have worn flip flops. She must have been thinking of the beach.

Having had both a snack, a drink, looked at the stalls and local art we caught the bus back with time to spare we took another bus into a town which was just for residence and revealed nothing extra. There may be undiscovered things we have yet to find in St Maarten, but that is for a second trip. However, it is over-running with charm. The second walk in the Dutch side and back to the ship was very easy and casual.

Taxi Ferry from the ship

Should you not want to walk from the ship there is a ferry boat that will run you up to the harbour. There are boat and catamaran trips you can take round the bay to watch, sightsee or snorkle. It has a wonderful beach, so relax, enjoy this fantastic island. Violet does in book three of her romantic story. American Portrait.

St Marteen is often put in between St Lucia and Tortola. Take a look at our blog and films on Tortola. And look at how to get round Barbados on a bus.

Tips. Suncream, water, and not flip flops if climbing to the fort. See our packing tips.

We show you how to get to Southampton Cruise Terminal by coach. If you have never cruised, and we are mainly a cruise site, then click here to see how to look at what cruising is.

Why not have a look at the LATE DEALS over a coffee from your arm chair? Doris Visits allows you to SEE THE CRUISE BEFORE YOU CRUISE THE SEA. We have videos of many of the cruise stops you might make from Miami to Tahiti, from Bruges to St Maarten. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share.

Book 3, American Portrait, ends in St Maarten, and what an end – huge shock on the beach !!   SOLO CRUISER BOOK SERIES. Violet Becket has never cruised. Infact she has been no where in a long time. Too long. Book 1, Virgin Voyage has been in the book charts for some weeks now, book 3 ends her story in the Caribbean. Violet has found and lost romance by book 3. Before she started cruising she had never had romance, never ever. As an older woman time is running out and she needs to make a change. This romantic read is based around cruises because once she cruises she loves it. That is her romance, well, there is a little more. Sally Katz used the films on Doris Visits to peg her books on! With permission. Each good read shows off a typical good cruise. But it is not about the places or the ships, you will know them back to front, if not you will get to know them. It is about Violet’s journey. Warning, there are two versions; HER VIRGIN VOYAGE is the lighter version, but VIRGIN VOYAGE is the full fat with full raunchy version like 50 Shades. Her Virgin Voyage has all the story just about 2500 words shorter. It is about a woman discovering life late in life, Violet’s story ranges three books. The second is a Baltic Cruise, again there are two versions, the third in the USA / Caribbean and there is only the lighter romance version as her story concludes for a while. Book four follows another character you have met and liked.  Follow author Sally Katz by clicking her name and then on the author page on Amazon, click follow. Then as she releases a new book your are informed.

Book three, American Portrait, features Canaveral, Key West, Barbados, Tortola and St Maarten amongst other stops. Like any of the books it can be read as a stand alone book, but book 1, Her Virgin Voyage and book 2, The Perfect Storm set up Violet. In American Portrait she meets the painter John Collins on the Coco Beach Pier. You will note we sold them pictures and some from this cruise feature on front covers.  Book 3 cover sports a picture of ours from Key West.