I've heard St. Maarten/St. Martin has changed due to recent hurricanes and cruisers are hounded by panhandlers when getting off the ship because of economic hard times. Can anybody verify this? I don't trust the cruiselines to be forthcoming with information of this sort as it could influence future sales. Also, I've heard St. Martin, the French side, has done a better job rebuilding because of it's direct connection with France.
I'd appreciate any information as I was intending to rent a car and drive around the island on my own the day we are there. Thanks.
You will certainly not be hounded as you get off the ship.
The new pier facility is quite nice, and I can't imagine panhandlers any where near it( at least not a month ago when we were last there).You might encounter a panhandler on a side street in any Caribean area but I noticed nothing like you appear to be worried about , either in town or out at Dawn beach where we spent most of the day.There were peddlers on the beach , but , they were charming and polite to the tourists. Cab drivers were
polite and helpful as well.
Enjoy your cruise.
We were there this past Thanksgiving. It was our first time on St. Maarten and I absolutely loved it. In fact out of all the islands we visited that week, the people were the least pushy. Even the taxi drivers were not as bothersome. The worst were the people outside the jewelery stores that tried to get you to go in, but they were easy to ingnore and I saw no panhandlers. We will be going back to spend a few days on the actual island and I thought the beaches were very pretty from the few I saw.
Being born in Paris, I am obviously biased, but after many trips there both by air and by ship, I always find the French side less crowded because the ships are not there, different shopping , and fine restaurants, as well as beach clubs with all types of facilities, including very good food. This entails renting a car, but then, it gives one a chance to see the entire island. JP
We have been there twice and love it. Panhandlers are not a problem. While there was hurricane damage, it does not detract from the overall experience. Whenever booking a cruise, we try to find one that goes to St. Maarten. I also think both sides are worth visiting, but can be difficult to do in one day. Enjoy!
Thanks for the reassurances. We'll be there in 2 weeks and can't stand the wait. We prefer to "do our own thing" by renting a car and driving where ever we choose. I am assuming our U.S. driver's licenses are valid there as well?