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Bernard's Tours - St. Maarten (Tour 1)


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As a follow up to my live blog, I wanted to give a fuller review of my experience with Bernard's Tours in St. Maarten. 

We chose tour 1 as listed on the website - http://www.bernardstours.com/

This tour runs for $40 per person with a $5 deposit paid via PayPal. Your remaining balance is due upon arrival. At this time, due to limitations as a result of Hurricane Irma, balance is due as cash. 

Once you walk off the ship, there are some instructions to help guide you towards the meeting place in the parking lot behind the reception building. Once you pass the statue, you'll turn right past the building and from there continue left until you see a large white tent. On the way, you may encounter some taxi drivers calling you out for a ride from outside the gate - if you dislike being hassled, be aware of this. 

Once you arrive at the tent, state that you are there for Bernard's Tours and one of their employees will be there to collect your balance (make sure you print your email confirmation to take with you!) and give your group a sticker indicating which tour you are on. Shortly after, a van or bus (depending on how many are booked) will pull in to the lot to collect you. 

As luck would have it, our group of 11 had a van to ourselves with "the Mailman" - nicknamed as such because people commonly mispronounce his name. He will give a brief introduction, and make you aware of the cooler stocked with sodas, water, Caribe beer,  his own homemade (very strong, very delicious) rum punch. He will also have you know his rum punch is only served in small shot like glasses due to its strength. After a quick stop by a nearby convenience store to pick up some cups, we all grabbed a beverage and we were on our way! If you have the Mailman as your tour guide - you are in for a treat. He is incredibly informative, kind, and also hilarious! 

One marked difference of the tour that I think would have been different from the past is that it seemed more like a 'hurricane tour'. There is still a significant amount of damage to the island as you get inland, and every where you go you'll see houses with blue tarps, mangled shipping containers, and piles of rubble. As I've said many times, don't let this deter you from going.You should still go, see the island, and hear their story. Our guide provided an extensive amount of information on what the people there had experienced, as well as the current states of repair in various areas of the island. 

The tour makes several stops - the first I believe being an overlook offering some great ocean views and a picture opportunity. Another stop included Orient Beach on the French side of the island, which still appears devastated. All we saw here was a few roaming vendors and the odd person offering chair rental or food. It was a strange experience looking one direction out to the incredible view and water, and then turning around to see all of the destroyed buildings. 

After a couple other photo opportunities, we had about an hour stop at Marigot for the outdoor market. Although it was Sunday and most things were closed, there were a few local vendors open for business. There is a great spice booth here offering various spice blends and hot sauces - we even saw a bit of honey and vanilla! 

We did also have the chance to stop at Maho Beach, which again, felt a lot like a tourist trap. One of those things that's fun to see once, but I wouldn't want to spend the day there. Honestly, I'd rather spend more time at Orient Beach even with the damage. 

After the tour, rather than dropping us off in Phillipsburg we were taken directly back to the port area where we started. The tour started right around 9:30, and we were back at port by around 2 PM - plenty of time before the 4:30 PM all aboard call. 

All in all, I'd very highly recommend this tour and would not hesitate to book this tour again. It is a great value and provides a vast amount of island information in a comfortable setting with the bonus of provided drinks! 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/8/2018 at 10:00 AM, KLAconQueso said:

As a follow up to my live blog, I wanted to give a fuller review of my experience with Bernard's Tours in St. Maarten. 

We chose tour 1 as listed on the website - http://www.bernardstours.com/

This tour runs for $40 per person with a $5 deposit paid via PayPal. Your remaining balance is due upon arrival. At this time, due to limitations as a result of Hurricane Irma, balance is due as cash. 

Once you walk off the ship, there are some instructions to help guide you towards the meeting place in the parking lot behind the reception building. Once you pass the statue, you'll turn right past the building and from there continue left until you see a large white tent. On the way, you may encounter some taxi drivers calling you out for a ride from outside the gate - if you dislike being hassled, be aware of this. 

Once you arrive at the tent, state that you are there for Bernard's Tours and one of their employees will be there to collect your balance (make sure you print your email confirmation to take with you!) and give your group a sticker indicating which tour you are on. Shortly after, a van or bus (depending on how many are booked) will pull in to the lot to collect you. 

As luck would have it, our group of 11 had a van to ourselves with "the Mailman" - nicknamed as such because people commonly mispronounce his name. He will give a brief introduction, and make you aware of the cooler stocked with sodas, water, Caribe beer,  his own homemade (very strong, very delicious) rum punch. He will also have you know his rum punch is only served in small shot like glasses due to its strength. After a quick stop by a nearby convenience store to pick up some cups, we all grabbed a beverage and we were on our way! If you have the Mailman as your tour guide - you are in for a treat. He is incredibly informative, kind, and also hilarious! 

One marked difference of the tour that I think would have been different from the past is that it seemed more like a 'hurricane tour'. There is still a significant amount of damage to the island as you get inland, and every where you go you'll see houses with blue tarps, mangled shipping containers, and piles of rubble. As I've said many times, don't let this deter you from going.You should still go, see the island, and hear their story. Our guide provided an extensive amount of information on what the people there had experienced, as well as the current states of repair in various areas of the island. 

The tour makes several stops - the first I believe being an overlook offering some great ocean views and a picture opportunity. Another stop included Orient Beach on the French side of the island, which still appears devastated. All we saw here was a few roaming vendors and the odd person offering chair rental or food. It was a strange experience looking one direction out to the incredible view and water, and then turning around to see all of the destroyed buildings. 

After a couple other photo opportunities, we had about an hour stop at Marigot for the outdoor market. Although it was Sunday and most things were closed, there were a few local vendors open for business. There is a great spice booth here offering various spice blends and hot sauces - we even saw a bit of honey and vanilla! 

We did also have the chance to stop at Maho Beach, which again, felt a lot like a tourist trap. One of those things that's fun to see once, but I wouldn't want to spend the day there. Honestly, I'd rather spend more time at Orient Beach even with the damage. 

After the tour, rather than dropping us off in Phillipsburg we were taken directly back to the port area where we started. The tour started right around 9:30, and we were back at port by around 2 PM - plenty of time before the 4:30 PM all aboard call. 

All in all, I'd very highly recommend this tour and would not hesitate to book this tour again. It is a great value and provides a vast amount of island information in a comfortable setting with the bonus of provided drinks! 

Thanks for the review. Now I know where to go to restock my spices and vanilla! 

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4 hours ago, Ray said:

Just Booked this tour 🙂 

Hopefully its as good as you say 🙂 if not i will just stay on minibus and get drunk on the free rum punch then it will be a great tour lol 

I can assure you, it's delightful.... and not hard to get drunk on. It's strong enough that he serves shot sized amounts in very small glasses. 😂

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