We tried to book a Coco Cay cabana at 4PM on the day of embarkation. They were already all gone, even though we could not reserve them through the website or through RCI ahead of time! I was very disappointed at first, but in the end was glad I missed out when I saw them: kind-of rickety things on a rocky area a minute's walk to the main beach. If you are planning on spending the majority of your time floating around in the ocean, they are fifth wheels. We grabbed four chaises on the sandy main beach near the bar in the shade of some palm trees 20 ft from the water. This location was great for lively music, cold Coco Locos and a shady spot for eating the lunch BBQ. The corn-on-the-cob was over-cooked, but the BBQ'd ribs and chicken were terrific.
We planned to do some shopping in St. Thomas and take the Paradise Point gondola ride. We enjoyed the gondola ride to the beautiful view from the top of Paradise Point. However, the shopping district immediately off the pier had all the authentic charm and aesthetic beauty of a pre-fabricated outlet mall. We returned to the ship and enjoyed the shorter lines at the Flowrider for the afternoon. If I had it to do all over again, I would have booked an excursion in St. Thomas and avoided the shopping near the pier entirely.
Our planned excursion on St. Maarten was cancelled and refunded to our account by RCI. In the end, this was a blessing in disguise. There was so much to do in the beautiful cobblestone streets and sandy beach immediately next to the Philipsburg pier that the excursion was completely unnecessary. Downtown Philipsburg is accessed by a brief water taxi ride and is breathtaking. Our kids liked meeting Yoda at the Star Wars museum. Yes, there is a Star Wars museum in St. Maarten. My wife and I highly recommend the jerk chicken and ribs at the Barefoot Terrace Cafe right off the pier for lunch, yummy! I would have happily stayed an extra day in St. Maarten and skipped St. Thomas.