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Old March 5th, 2003, 05:33 PM
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Default St Maarten - day before WEDDING!

Hi! Do you have a suggestion for us? We are leaving on our 7-nt cruise 3/16, visiting St Maarten that Wednesday and getting MARRIED the following day on St John.

I am looking to have a fun stressfree day on St Maarten - but also be able to let my group of 19 know some suggestions as well. This is their first cruise (for our families) AND first port of call - and none travel often or this far from home. I just don't want to be stressed out, especially the day before my wedding!! My fiance and I have never been to St Maarten either, so this is new for us as well (only our third cruise).

Port times are scheduled 9:00-6:00, but we are on the Norway which uses tenders (we're in suites, so I know we get priority tenders). Regardless, I know time is shaved off those publicized hours due to tenders. I do not know what time the last return tender is to the Norway, but I am guessing 5:00ish.

On St Maarten, we would like to:
- shop (need to take advantage of liquor prices - Splash on Front Street(?), the women in the group will do probably do shopping for jewelry/crystal/etc)
- Sunset Beach Bar (approx 2:00-3:00 mandatory!)
- possibly snorkel (some are asking to do this since we do not have time at St John due to wedding stuff - is there a snorkel area close by?)
- make it back to the ship on time or early!

Orient Beach is not mandatory - none would be interested in the nude side plus we are going to be on Trunk Bay the next day.

We have not rented a car. I'm not sure how many in my group of 19 are going to stick with us, but I'm sure some will.

Several in our group are airplane buffs, including the bride/groom and a few others. We have already researched various inbound flight schedules. If we did nothing else, Maho Bay area is a MUST from 2:00-3:00.

Knowing all of this info, what would your suggestion be? And in what order? I know on other islands we have used open air taxis which carried several people, but was not aware if St Maarten had those or not.

Thank you SO MUCH in advance,
Mandy in Dallas
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old March 5th, 2003, 05:48 PM
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Default Re: St Maarten - day before WEDDING!

We had a great time on the Golden Eagle Catamaran in St. Maarten. I think it would be a blast with a large group of friends and family like you will have. They do have a website, I'm sure you can there there through yahoo.

You sail fast to the snorkeling area, snorkel for a while and there is a beach if you don't snorkel. Then you sail slowly back to the area you would probably be tendering in and out of. There is a little shopping right at the pier where they drop you off for just souviner type stuff.
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Old March 5th, 2003, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: St Maarten - day before WEDDING!

Thanks for the catamaran suggestion!

I guess I should have mentioned that our reception after our St John wedding is on a catamaran we have chartered, which will pick us up at the beach we are marrying on. The family does not know about this (it's a surprise!). Open bar, wedding cake on board, etc. That would be the only reason for steering away from a catamaran on St Maarten, although I have read many great things about Golden Eagle!!

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Old March 6th, 2003, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: St Maarten - day before WEDDING!

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. As the group leader and especially as the bride, don't try to plan everything for everyone. You will drive yourself crazy. Go onto the NCL board first and find out where you are tendeded into: downtown or the Port Terminal area? It is probably downtown Philipsburg. I recommend a tour of any sort in the morning leaving free time for personal choices in the afternoon. Van taxi's w/ A/C are readily available for hire. They often hold about 10-15 people. You could negotiate for a group to do a 4 hr. island tour including a photo op only of Orient Bay (high atop a hill overlooking this grand spanse of white beach) they won't see the nudity from here. Onto Marigot for some French ambiance, maybe with a stop at Grand Case, Cupecoy beach, Nettles Beach, the butterfly farm, etc. When you return to town, those who wish to go shopping will be right in the midst of it. Great bay is the beach area in downtown. Many people walk to Everything Cool, rent a lounge, buy a drink and relax (especially the guys who just don't want to shop). This is a good place to meet before going back to the ship. Take a taxi to Maho Bay for your 2 p.m. experience. I guess you plan to try to see the underside of a landing giant aircraft. This will be the place! I understand the hotel has been all renovated and lovely but the noise of the aircraft landing can get loud. Other than casinos and shops, there is nothing else I can think of as points of interest. Dawn beach is just on the border of the Dutch & French side if folks just want a lovely beach (taxi about $8pp each way). Lounges, refreshment, facilities are all available $$.
Bon voyage
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Old March 8th, 2003, 07:06 AM
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Default Re: St Maarten - day before WEDDING!

Thanks for the info! We will be tendering into town - Philipsipsburg, St Maarten. (Not the port area). Sorry I didn't make that clear previously.

Yes - we plan to watch the B747, B757, etc fly in for an hour at Maho (have checked flight schedules). In the states, airports have lareger secure areas so you cannot be as close.

Your suggestion of a four-hour tour sounds good beforehand. Any idea of what the going rate is? I know I have booked a St Thomas tour for three hours for my family at $20 each (for after the wedding reception on the catamaran - new hubby and I will head back to ship at that point so that we can enjoy the ship in peace for a few hours).

I am guessing that if we leave Maho at 3:00, we will have time to stop at Splash on Front street (puchase our favorite drinks) and make it back to the ship on time. I believe the last tender back to the ship is at 5:00. I want to allow time for traffic on that stretch of road - read that it can take up to 45 minutes depending on traffic.

And yes, as the bride and group leader, I do not want to be stressed out. That's why I am trying to do so much research beforehand. Most in our group have never left the mainland US, do very little travel, have never cruised, and some have never flown in an airplane before. My fiance and I have been trying to prepare them as much as possible for any questions they may have. They are all extremely excited though!! St Maarten is the last piece we need to research - we've booked all of their flights to FLL, shuttle to Miami, hotel the night before, and of course the entire wedding day. Just have this one piece left!
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