Since there are two sides...french and dutch...to this island we decided to take an excursion that included both. It was very interesting seeing which side was more economically sound than the other. Also make sure you visit the Belgium Chocolate Shop...it's not a large place but it isn't too far from the pier. (Carnival Excursion)
St. Maarten, along with Cozumel, is one of the best ports to rent a car in. On both islands, there is one main road that circles the island, you can't get lost. There is good signage and the roads are in very good condition. There is also so many things to see and do that doing a ship based excursion or taking cabs would would not be cost or time effective. Get a map and rent a car and go to two or three beaches then do some shopping. Hoowah!
Jubilee - May 2001 - 5 days West
Sensation - May 2003 - 5 days West (the engagement cruise)
Glory - April 2004 - 7 days East
Inspiration - April 2005 - 5 days West
Miracle - April 2006 - 7 days West caribbean (the wedding/honeymoon cruise)
I agree, rent a car on St. Maarten. For $50.00 we got a car for the whole day. If you want to go back to the ship for a while, just park the car by the dock, then you are off again. My girls loved just 'getting lost on the island'. We also snorkeled at a couple of beaches.