St. Maarten

17-Mar-2024 • Philipsburg St. Maarten

It felt wonderful to return to Philipsburg, the capital of St. Maarten. Just like Puerto Rico and Antigua and Barbuda, we hadn't been back in 27 long years. Back in 1996, my partner and I visited the French side of St. Martin as well, visiting Fort Louis and Orient Beach. Never in a million years did I think we would return. Having done some research prior to our cruise, we found out that we could just walk to Philipsburg from the cruise terminal. It really wasn't difficult. It was hot though, very hot. In fact, it was scorching hot the entire time we were there. In this port, just like in all the other ports we visited on this cruise, we opted not to join any shore excursion and do our own exploration instead.

As soon as we reached the capital, we set out to explore the city. The first thing any visitor sees in the city center is the Great Bay Beach. The water was so blue and inviting. A few steps from the water were hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and a few convenience stores. The time we arrived, our fellow travelers had not yet arrived en masse. But by late morning, the beach was a lively scene of swimmers from our ship and the Costa ship that docked alongside Grandeur of the Seas.

We're back Philipsburg!

It was Christmas Eve when we arrived in St. Maarten. Although duty free stores usually stay open until ships leave port, many of the commercial establishments closed at 2 pm that day. There was one Christmas tree made out of these beer bottles.

We saw a number of beautiful murals downtown. This was one of them.

This was the St. Maarten tourist office in the heart of the city.

This building right next to the courthouse was the site of the country's parliament. It was quite interesting to see stores on the ground level of the building.

In front of Philipsburg's main landmark, the courthouse building.

There was really no need to join any shore excursion to any beach in St. Maarten because the one right in the center of town was oh so beautiful. It's the Great Bay Beach.

This was the other side of the beach downtown.

Philipsburg on Christmas eve. It was busy indeed.

Shopping is big in St. Maarten and one would be hard pressed not to see any duty free shops. They literally line both sides of many streets in the city. I remember seeing the Front Gate center during our first visit. It has survived the times!

A view of the cruise terminal. Taken aboard the ferry we took to return to the ship. It was way too hot to walk back. We paid $5 for the short ferry ride. Fellow passengers who took the ferry to travel to Philipsburg and back paid $7.

This sign was a hit among the cruise passengers. Just like any tourist who wished to remember their trip by, many had their photos taken here by the entrance to the cruise terminal

Here's one tourist who wanted his picture taken by the St. Maarten sign.