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goblues38

St. Maarten and St. Thomas next week....nothing excites us...any ideas?

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Looked at all the excursions available from RC and doing a canned excursion with several hundred cruise people just doesnt excite us (family of 4, me, wife, 17-12 YO girls).

I have looked at all the web sites.  All the "things to do" just look like tourist traps.  At this point I am leaning towards just staying on the ship all day.

Anyone have any ideas?  Willing to pay for an experience that is unique and not just a big locals money grab.

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I have rented a car in both islands with no issues (other than St. Thomas drives on the left side of the road but still has the steering wheel on the left, which takes some getting used to!) and it allows you the freedom to explore on your own and build your own adventure.  We got to see the entire island in St. Maarten and even stopped at some of the tourist areas like Maho and Marigot.  In St. Thomas we drove up to the touristy places and were on our own schedule and didn't have to follow a tour.  Car rental was $100-$120 all-in for the day and a very simple process..I think it was Budget in St. Thomas and Avis in St. Maarten, so well known names..even though in St. Maarten the car was picked up out of someone's personal driveway.

If you're not into the car rental exploration, I know in St. Maarten there is the water taxi that takes you over to the town where you can walk around the shops and visit the beach without having to invest a lot of time and energy.  It's not the best beach, but you get to enjoy a short ride on the water and then can explore the shops.  It's also an easy walk if you don't want to pay for the water taxi.  Maho is worth seeing if you haven't seen it before, but you would need a ride/cab/car to get out there.  Watch some airplanes land..Sunset Bar is there but it's pricey..but you don't have to partake to stand on the beach and watch the planes.

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We never get off at St. Maarten or St. Thomas anymore but that's b/c we have been there so many times; well...that and the fact that I cannot be trusted on St. Thomas  due to all of the GREAT jewelry stores there.

I find port days on the eastern Caribbean itins to be great stay-on-the-ship days.

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I don't know what ship your on...or what other stops you have...or how many cruises you have done before...but you sound like your jaded.

 

I would assume from that...you have been there, done that so that's why the dis-interest.

 

if this is  a first time there for you and/or your kids.....then get off the ship and do something. Many people would be excited and appreciative to spend a day in each place.....

 

Its taken me 13 cruises before I get to St. Maarten.....and I am excited as hell to get off and explore......

 

Also, there are a few threads here about excursions in St. Marteen that are fairly small..like 8 or 10 in a van and exploring the island etc with a guide....

 

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29 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

We never get off at St. Maarten or St. Thomas anymore but that's b/c we have been there so many times; well...that and the fact that I cannot be trusted on St. Thomas  due to all of the GREAT jewelry stores there.

I find port days on the eastern Caribbean itins to be great stay-on-the-ship days.

Don't forget the Bones rum................

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Im from the Detroit area in Michigan. Winters here suck, summers here aren't great unless you go up north to see Michigan’s true beauty. I’d take a bad day in St “whatever island” over the greatest day here! 😝

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2 hours ago, monctonguy said:

I don't know what ship your on...or what other stops you have...or how many cruises you have done before...but you sound like your jaded.

 

if this is  a first time there for you and/or your kids.....then get off the ship and do something. Many people would be excited and appreciative to spend a day in each place.....

 

 

Harmony of the seas next week.  2nd cruise ever.  Last cruise was a Disney Cruise in 2008.  But we have done a lot of travel.  Jamaica a few time, Dominican, Hawaii, Disney (more times then i will admit), snow ski trips.  So not Jaded, just hard to please I guess.

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If you want a ship day then you should do a ship day.  Everywhere that tourists go, there are businesses that cater to tourists and so technically a tourist trap.  We've done some of these islands several times and always find something new to try.

Personally, my family loves to snorkel so we try to do at least one snorkeling tour each cruise.  St. Maarten has cool snorkeling tours as they will take you to snorkel plus see the mega yachts, airplanes land at Maho beach, etc.  Touristy yes but it is a great way to explore a new place.  I'd suggest you look at Billy Bones Charter or Soualiga Destinations if interested.

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49 minutes ago, melski94 said:

If you want a ship day then you should do a ship day.  Everywhere that tourists go, there are businesses that cater to tourists and so technically a tourist trap. 

Not sure I agree with you about the definition of a "tourist trap". There are plenty of places tourists go to in huge numbers because it's a great place to visit. I was under the impression most people referred to tourist traps as overpriced and overrated places that only tourists go to.

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I really love St. Marteen.  We are beach people so Great Bay Beach, I believe is the name, is super convenient.  It’s within walking distance or a very easy water taxi trip from the ship.  Drinks, food and chairs are reasonably priced and readily available.  

St Thomas has beautiful beaches and magen’s Bay is a can’t miss if you are beach person.  We grab a independent taxi bus which is an adventure by itself traveling the narrow, winding roads along the mountainside. 

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We are on the same boat next week.  We have been to St Thomas before, so we are taking the ferry over to St John's and exploring.  Never been to St Marteen, so excited to visit.  We hired a driver and will have him show us his island.

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I would suggest Pinel Island in St. Maarten. It is very secluded and you can snorkel, kayak, walk around the island and see a lot of wildlife, or just sit on the beach. We used Caribbean Paddling to get over there. Rented a double kayak from them and only took about 10-15 mins to kayak to Pinel Island. Here is the link for the website: https://www.caribbeanpaddling.com/rentals/kayak-rental-pinel-island  If you do not wish to kayak, they have a water ferry that can take you over there. I have attached some pictures so you can see our experience. We will be going back at the end of this year! 

 

 

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15 hours ago, Hutcherl said:

St Thomas has beautiful beaches and magen’s Bay is a can’t miss if you are beach person.  We grab a independent taxi bus which is an adventure by itself traveling the narrow, winding roads along the mountainside. 

This is my exact plan for St. Thomas and your description of the taxi ride has me so excited now! I have been to Magen's before but I was around 7 so am pleased to get to see it again. 

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Not sure if it's still offered but we "swam with a Sea Lion" at Coral World in St Thomas.  We had pre-arranged that and caught a cab at the port.  The return cab ride turned into an island tour.   It wasn't cheap but it was memorable.

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2 hours ago, DDaley said:

This is my exact plan for St. Thomas and your description of the taxi ride has me so excited now! I have been to Magen's before but I was around 7 so am pleased to get to see it again. 

I described it has an adventure but some may describe it as dangerous!! Lol. Their mountainside roads are not like anything you would see in the United States, at least anywhere I have been.  From the narrowness and curviness and speed traveling alongside steep drop offs with no guardrails.  To me it really is part of the adventure of the day.  I just sit back and think that this is just how they do it and they do it everyday so I just go along for the ride.  Also, the mountainside provides a nice lookout point for taking awesome pictures of Magen’s Bay below.  

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5 hours ago, lauraodonnell86 said:

I would suggest Pinel Island in St. Maarten. It is very secluded and you can snorkel, kayak, walk around the island and see a lot of wildlife, or just sit on the beach. We used Caribbean Paddling to get over there. Rented a double kayak from them and only took about 10-15 mins to kayak to Pinel Island. Here is the link for the website: https://www.caribbeanpaddling.com/rentals/kayak-rental-pinel-island  If you do not wish to kayak, they have a water ferry that can take you over there. I have attached some pictures so you can see our experience. We will be going back at the end of this year! 

Your pictures are awesome!  I had been looking into Pinel Island and I think I may go for it 😀

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Just now, CFL said:

Your pictures are awesome!  I had been looking into Pinel Island and I think I may go for it 😀

Thanks! We had such a wonderful time and you can walk across the island and find a beach where you will be the only one on it! There was only 1 other couple on this beach where we took this picture! It was such a cool place! ❤️ Have a great time!

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If you and the family are a bit adventuresome, you might want to look into the ST. MAARTEN YACHT RACE (if still available for your day).

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Set sail for an exhilarating ride aboard an actual racing yacht from the America’s Cup regatta, going against other boats in a mini competition. No prior sailing experience is needed, as the captain and crew will instruct you onboard. You can also just sit back and enjoy the views, wind, and waves. Win or lose, join your captain, crew, and rivals to toast a great day at the victory party back on shore. Browse the boutique for race gear and souvenirs before a leisurely stroll back to the cruise terminal.

The passengers help out crewing the America's Cup yachts during a mini race...and you can request easier positions.

I did this about 16 months ago when I was there for a week and had lots of fun, and have it booked again for my July (RCBlog group) cruise.

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1 hour ago, lauraodonnell86 said:

Thanks! We had such a wonderful time and you can walk across the island and find a beach where you will be the only one on it! There was only 1 other couple on this beach where we took this picture! It was such a cool place! ❤️ Have a great time!

This picture is great, looks like paradise! 🏝️ This is exactly the type of beach experience we are looking for since it will be an anniversary cruise!  Were they any insects like mosquitoes or anything like that where we would need insect repellant?

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1 minute ago, CFL said:

This picture is great, looks like paradise! 🏝️ This is exactly the type of beach experience we are looking for since it will be an anniversary cruise!  Were they any insects like mosquitoes or anything like that where we would need insect repellant?

I don't remember anything like that being a problem! It actually rained on us as we were kayaking over to Pinel but it was fine! They give you a dry bag to put all of your stuff in. You can spend as much time as you wish there. There was also a large grill where they were grilling shrimp, lobster and steak. It looked soo good! I think you will have a great time! 

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On 5/29/2019 at 3:12 PM, Neo said:

Im from the Detroit area in Michigan. Winters here suck, summers here aren't great unless you go up north to see Michigan’s true beauty. I’d take a bad day in St “whatever island” over the greatest day here! 😝

I grew up in Dearborn!  Yes...I’m in Illinois now and the islands are waaayyy better lol!   @goblues38 we loved the beach at St. John.  You can take the ferry from st Thomas.  We did it as an excursion but I know @Matt blogged about doing it on their own.  Beautiful beaches and way less crowded.  In st Maarten we literally turned left and walked to the free beach.  It was great! You could get chairs if you wanted and easy!  Jane

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We're stopping in the same two ports in October, and am just starting to look at what we're going to do.  We went to St. Martin last fall, and just walked about town, enjoyed local food and drinks, visited The Yoda Guy as well as a few other shoppes that were must sees.  So this time, not sure again.

@Matt likes to take a taxi to the French side to visit a bakery called La Sucriere, so may do that this time, and explore that side of the island.   

In St. Thomas, we're considering taking the ferry to Water Island.  One of the RCPeriscopers, CruisnGreg, was there in January and looks nice.  You can rent a golf cart for the day and drive around the small island.  Gotta do more research on it before deciding. 

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On 5/30/2019 at 11:10 AM, lauraodonnell86 said:

I would suggest Pinel Island in St. Maarten. It is very secluded and you can snorkel, kayak, walk around the island and see a lot of wildlife, or just sit on the beach. We used Caribbean Paddling to get over there. Rented a double kayak from them and only took about 10-15 mins to kayak to Pinel Island. Here is the link for the website: https://www.caribbeanpaddling.com/rentals/kayak-rental-pinel-island  If you do not wish to kayak, they have a water ferry that can take you over there. I have attached some pictures so you can see our experience. We will be going back at the end of this year! 

I booked this for my upcoming solo trip, I am so glad you shared your experience! I ordered the "frenchy" lunch, and will take a small backpack and utilize the dry bag they provide, which is so nice because I won't have to pack mine!  Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

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