Popular Ports in St Marteen
An island blessed with richly diverse natural landscapes, a cruise to St Maarten island offers visitors a varied contrast of wild landscapes juxtaposed with civilised urban areas. You’ll find rainforest-like landscapes with wildlife aplenty; lagoons, resort beaches and caves are neatly dotted across this small but perfectly formed 37-square-mile island.
The island’s only cruise port is located to the far south of the island, inPhilipsburg. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, Philipsburg is the capital of St Maarten and is located on the Dutch side of the island, nestled between a narrow stretch of land between the Great Salt Pond and the Great Bay.
Front Street is possibly one of the best streets to shop in the Caribbean. The main shopping district situated in the heart of city on a bustling tree-lined street, this area is a popular tourist area for indulging in a spot of retail therapy in the duty-free shops while on your cruise holiday to St Maarten.
Great Bay Beach
The main attractions in Philipsburg include Great Bay Beach – you can easily take a water taxi from the port to the beach to enjoy the sunny rays. Here you’ll find a white-sand beach, boardwalk, and an array of restaurants, shops and casinos.
If you’re fascinated by history, pay a visit to Fort Amsterdam. This historic fort’s claim to fame is that it was the very first Dutch military base in the Caribbean. As well as being a novel home to a breeding ground for resident pelicans, the fort offers impressive views over the sea.
Delicacies to try in St Maarten include seafood, especially the fried fish and fish pies. Heartier fare such as oxtail stew and beef pies are also delicious. The signature dishes in St Maarten are locri – chicken with spiced rice and vegetables – and Johnny cakes, a sweet fried treat. And as you savour the sunsets, you can enjoy a local guavaberry liqueur at one of the beachfront bars lining the boardwalk along Great Bay.
What are the best cruise ships for a cruise to St Maarten?
There are three ships cruising to St Maarten, all offering excellent choices for your holiday. Whether you’re looking for entertainment, delicious food or pampering (or even a bit of everything), here are the options to take you there.
New to the seas for 2018, if you’re looking to cruise in style then the Marella Explorer could be the one for you. A great choice for foodies – boasting an enviable choice of 10 restaurants and 10 bars, including firm favourites like Snack Shack in addition to exciting new spaces such as The Dining Club. Did we mention the swanky bar, club and casino, too? As if that isn’t enough, on this ship you’ll also find an indoor cinema, a sports and family deck, and even a Champneys spa!
Marella Discovery 2
A slightly younger member of the Marella family than the Explorer, the Marella Discovery 2 still offers state-of-the-art facilities. Chillout is the key word on this ship; laze in the sun on the Veranda, check out the adults-only sundeck, or treat yourself to a treatment at the spa – you can also indulge in the hot tubs. Or, if you’re feeling brave, try a spot of rock-climbing, or a round of minigolf.
With no fewer than six fabulous restaurants to choose from for dinner, you’ll be spoilt for choice. There’s the main restaurant, 47°, serving up delicious fresh seafood as you enjoy the ocean vistas or Kora La, where you can enjoy pan-Asian dishes.
Being one of the smaller cruise ships makes the Marella Celebrationsuper personal and ultra friendly. Having experienced a makeover in 2012, you’ll enjoy jazzed-up cabins and contemporary furnishings. If music and entertainment onboard is a priority, this cruise is a great choice for you. You’ll be dancing ’til dawn on this ship (Celebration by name and by nature), where you can enjoy West-End-style productions, and special guest acts from the UK who take to the stage twice a night in the ship’s two-floor starry show lounge. Enjoy gourmet food onboard in the sophisticated à la carte restaurants or indulge in the spa.
Shore excursion ideas
St Maarten Island Tour
If you are looking to explore most of this petite island’s hidden gems on your trip, this sightseeing tour will make your trip one to remember. On this excursion, you’ll get to explore both sides of St Maarten Island in the company of your tour guide who will share fascinating insights as you go. You’ll start your excursion in the Dutch capital then travel to Marigot on the French side, enjoying the landscape. On arriving in Marigot, you have some free time to explore, including patisseries, cafés and boutiques. You’ll also stop at Lookout Point to savour the view over Simpson Bay Lagoon.
Scenic Coastal Hike
If you enjoy exploring the great outdoors, discover the beauty of St Maarten on a walking tour. You’ll follow the natural trail between Guana Bay and Geneve Bay, on the island’s east coast. Make sure you pack your comfy shoes though, as on this excursion, you’ll trek along a narrow coastal track, weaving through grass fields and navigating rocky paths along the rugged yet scenic shoreline.