EIDAA From Ireland, joined Oct 2006, 829 posts, RR: 16 Posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 3876 times:
My girlfriend and I will be taking a cruise this December and one of the stops is (conveniently) St. Maarten. We are scheduled to arrive at 0800 and depart again at 1700, so it really will be a quick visit. While I'm sure Philipsburg is a nice town, my main aim will be to spend some time at Maho Beach.
For anyone that has been there before, perhaps also as a cruise day stop, can you provide any recommendations?
The other thing I would consider doing is to take a short hop from SXM to one of the nearby islands and back with WM or similar, but I don't know if this is sensible or even achievable given I want to spend time at the beach bar spotting and also have to get to and from the ship in the morning and afternoon.
Any thoughts or recommendations would be really welcome!
Birdwatching From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 3821 posts, RR: 51
Reply 3, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 3852 times:
Forget St Maarten and Maho Beach.
I'd suggest a quick hop to St Barth. You could do one way on Winair and the other way on St Barth Commuter, you'd have to check out the schedules but there is at least one flight per hour and it only takes about 10 minutes. You'll experience a spectacular approach at SBH:
At St Barth, you can walk out of the airport and reach the beach of St Jean within minutes. This beach is really beautiful and you get the planes much lower than at Maho Beach, and you can walk right under the approach. But most importantly, your girlfriend will love St Jean beach, probably much more than Maho Beach. There is a chair / umbrella rental place right on the beach. Get yourselves 2 chairs and an umbrella, sit in the shade with her, have a drink, and every 15 minutes or so you can see an approaching plane.
St Maarten is very much overrated, it is a run down and increasingly unsafe place, Maho beach is full of tourists, mostly the kind you don't want to hang with. St Barth on the other hand is tranquil and beautiful, you will love it.
Let me know if you need assistance with flights and schedules.
All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
PI4EVER From United States of America, joined May 2009, 673 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 3851 times:
I was on a RCCL cruise to SXM last year and went to Maho Beach. We were off the ship about 930am and actually met and arranged a taxi to take us and pick us back up. The bar has a flight schedule posted so you can plan picture taking of each airline. Be prepared for a lot of Twin Otter and Dash 8 activity such as shown by Philip, but the whole atmosphere is such fun that it doesn't matter. You'll simply enjoy being at this famous beach area, and meeting so many different people. My brother and I met a great guy from Russia, a couple from Australia and a guy who lives a mile from my house here in Tampa!
The cab driver was very friendly and although a bit congested in general, we did not encounter any road or real traffic issues. He picked us up at the appointed time, took us on an island tour and we were back on the ship for a late lunch by 3pm. Cost for the cab with tip was $75USD. He was delighted with the $$ and we enjoyed the convenience.
To re-board we simply showed our ship card and driver's license. We also had our passports in a backpack we carried just in case. Easy security clearance back on the ship. If your ship sails at 5, you will be advised to be back on board between 4-430pm. Don't dally....there will be a long line to re-board near departure, and there is always a joker or two who push it and run down the dock as the ship's horn sounds.
My sister-in-law opted to shop instead of plane watch at the beach with us, so the trip cost my brother quite a bit more! Girlfiriend may opt for that as well, but plan to go with her...Ha!
We did consider the flight to Saba via St.Eustitus at about $150 roundtrip but had heard Winair had recent mechanical issues for a couple days and opted not to risk a problem. We saw plenty of their planes so no operational issues on our day there, but better safe than sorry.
It is a great trip (cruise and SXM port call) so I hope you enjoy your trip. Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy Maho Beach.
Hi yeah I had a fab trip. One of my mates is on the Allure next week. You will love the Oasis. You won't have time to do a flight and neither should you. Maho beach is a lovely place and lots of nice people from all over the world meet and chat and watch the amazing views of the planes. Get off the ship early and get to the beach and rent a few loungers before the masses arrive. There is free wifi at the bar too which is great for uploading some pics live etc...
Make sure you leave Maho beach by around 2:30pm just to be safe. There are mini buses on the return that take you back to the ship from outside the bar. US $$ Is the way to go and take some $10's and $20's for paying the taxi and for paying at the bar for any things you might want to buy.
No real formalities on and off the ship. If you have not got your sun creams already RCI sell Australian Gold onboard for a really decent price including after sun . At most ports if you want to check emails they have free wifi but can sometimes be slow as all the crew get off to use it . The ships Internet is very expensive. Also switch data roaming off your phone as its expensive too and automatically charged unless you have it turned off. SMS is the way to go rather than calls.
If you want to book any speciality restaurants onboard do it the day you get on. Boarding usually starts midday despite them telling you later.
Any other info feel free to PM me. I've done lots of cruise vacations on RCI.
KL838 From Netherlands Antilles, joined Oct 2010, 120 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 3758 times:
I would think spending the day at Maho Beach would be a better idea, you could always go to St. Barths, but everything is in Euros and not to mention quite expensive. Taking a taxi would be a lot easier and do carry USD as it is accepted on both the French and Dutch sides of the island.
As for security, just use common sense and keep all your belongings close to you, just because you are on a tropical island doesn't mean there isn't any crime. There has been an increase in crime but that is mostly due to people from other Caribbean islands who come here and commit robberies.
As for being run down, it most definitely is not and if you are looking for much private beaches you can check out the Simpson Bay beach by Mary's Boon it's the stretch right next to runway. Its really clear and quiet with beautiful white sand, and you can stand right next to the runway fence to watch the planes.
If you had enough of the plane spotting the French side is a big difference compared to the Dutch side, with green rolling hills and a few shops and lots of restaurants. You can check Fort Louis in Marigot, it has stunning views and is in the heart of Marigot. There is also Orient Beach which is the clothing optional beach, it has all the water sports and also you can see where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet.
Overall there are quite a few things you can do on St. Maarten, if you need to do some shopping do message me I can recommend some good stores to find all your electronics and brand name goods at very reasonable prices.
NWADTWE16 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 242 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3734 times:
I completely disagree that SXM is rundown or in anyway unsafe. If your not an idiot your not going to have a problem in that regard. The day shippers were all over Maho and theres no way youd have time to get back to the ship if you flew off the island. Its tempting but dont do it. MAHO BEACH was everything it was hyped up to be. The water is an unbelievable colour of turquise, the beach was much bigger than i thought and was pure white. The bar makes delicious drinks and your only problem will be sandblast in your drink. Youll also just experience an amazing vibe of everyone from all over the world getting so exited for each arrival and departure. When i was there INSELAIR backed their Mad Dog right up to the fence and went atleast half throttle with the brakes held for like a full minute. Smell that fuel burn in the air!!! I cant speak for your GF but you cant go to that island, love airlines and miss Maho. If your going with another couple send them all to Phillipsburg LOL but if she has your CC your in trouble, its all Jewelery stores
Nibog From Ireland, joined Apr 2009, 329 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3650 times:
There is an interesting article in the September issue of "Airways","STOL at Saba.The author "had to experience both the landing and takeoff from Saba,where the runway extends 1,300ft;however,less than 1,000ft is designated as usable."Flights are on Winair DHC-6 Twin Otters.
It might be worth the read and help you decide what you want to do that day.
MountainFlyer From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 476 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3605 times:
I was just there in June on RCL's Freedom of the Seas. It was my wife's and my first time there, and first time cruising. We loved it!
We were there during the off-season for Caribbean cruises, but it was still great. We were the only ship in port, so we had no trouble at all getting a taxi. Someone above said you needed $75 including tip, but we did the round-trip taxi for less than $60 including generous tip. If I remember correctly, the taxi service charged $20 each way. Maybe during the busier winter months they charge more. Also, we made arrangements for our same taxi driver to take us back just to be safe. We later regretted that, because we were a little too conservative with our time estimate, and there were tons of taxis just sitting there at the Sunset Bar waiting for people needing to go back. We didn't want to stiff our taxi driver though, so we watched for him and took the same one back. Again, perhaps during the busier winter months getting a taxi is harder. For us, there was only about 3,600 total people there from just our ship, but during the busy months, there can be 10,000 or more at a time with several large ships in port at the same time.
As for the ship, personally, I say skip the specialty restaurants on board. Since you're on Oasis, I think you have a couple different ones than we did, but Freedom being RCL's second largest class, we still had a lot of options. We tried the Porto Fino Italian restaurant which had a $20/person cover charge. They had great food, but I personally didn't think it was enough better than the main dinning hall to justify the extra, but that's just me.
Also, my advice is to go to as many shows on board as possible, and reserve early. They're all free, but some of them, like the ice shows, etc. fill up fast. Reserve as many as you can online. They were all great on our cruise.