General – This island is divided into two parts, Sint Maarten is the Dutch side while Saint Martin is the French side. It is a favorite cruise destination because the cruise port can handle several large cruise ships at one time.
Where You’re Docked – The cruise ships dock on the Dutch side close to the town of Philipsburg. The cruise ship docking area includes a large shopping village with several food and drink outlets. The Dutch town of Philipsburg is less than half a mile away walking. The town on the French side is Marigot and is decidedly French in character with a number of good bistros and restaraunts.
Transportation – From the cruise dock there is a boat shuttle service that goes directly to Philipsburg for about US$5 one way or US$8 for a day pass. It will require a taxi or a minibus to reach Marigot and you should be cautioned that with several large ships in port traffic can back up badly late in the day returning to the cruise ships, so allow plenty of time for the trip back. Taxi service is reasonably priced with a trip to the other side of Philipsburg costing less than US$5. A minibus to Marigot should be about US$5.
Money – While the two half’s of the island have their own currency the U.S. dollar is welcome on the Dutch side but Euros are usually required on the French side. Giving a 15% gratuity is common practice also.
Port St Maarten has a web site with a schedule of ship arrivals here.
- Philipsburg – The main town on the Dutch side with a large beach.
- Maho Bay Beach – Located at the end of the main airport runway. People seem to like to stand in the jet blast as planes land and takeoff. There is a bar on the beach.
- Marigot – A sleepy town on the French side noted for good food.
- Orient Beach – A beautiful beach near Marigot on the French side. Topless and nude bathing is common.