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Home > Member Reviews > Sunshinecop's Port Reviews of St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Turk

Sunshinecop's Port Reviews of St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Turk
Ruby Princess cruise in November 2012
Member Name: Sunshinecop
Cruise Date: November 2012
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Member Review: Sunshinecop's Ruby Princess Review
St. Maarten
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
11-28-2012. Arrived in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten on the Ruby Princess in search of Premium Rum. My pre-cruise research on Trip Advisor & Cruise Critic revealed older postings that stated that St. Maarten was to be the place for the highest selection of rum at the cheapest prices. Alas this is no longer the case. After renting a car and travelling the entire island I only had two bottles of Rum to show for my effort.

First, my prior cruise research stated that local grocery stores; Afoos and Sang's in Phillipsburg were the best and cheapest places to buy rum. I found that both places had a selection of lower quality rum (Bacardi, Cruzan etc.) at prices that were higher than I pay at home in Florida.

At "Phillipsburg Liquors/ITLL" I found a bottle of18 year old Ron Botran Solera 1893 for $42 USD. They had other premium rums like Zacapa XO for reasonable prices. I also bought Chambord $25 and Amaretto Di Sarono for $20 and a Liter of Hendricks Gin for $40.

In Marigot, St.Maarten, I went to "La Casa Del Habano" for Cuban cigars and was presently surprised that they had a bottle of 15 year old Ron Varadero Supremo rum $95 and "Cubita" cafe en grano whole coffee bean (1,000 gram bag $25) in addition to the cigars I was seeking. The store is owned by Carole who is very pleasant and eager to help with selecting the perfect gifts. This is the only authorized Cuban product outlet on St. Maarten and my research showed that the miscellaneous cigar stores around the cruise ship port sometimes sell fake Cuban cigars to tourists. It is a bit of a trek to get to the store from Phillipsburg, but it is a nice way to see the island. I would recommend emailing Carole to see if she has what you want and how much it costs before you go. www.casa.del.habano@wanadoo.fr

My pre-cruise research on Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic showed that there have been problems with some of the big name rental car companies and the old; "that scratch wasn't there when you picked up the car" scam. Another contributor on these sites recommended a company that rents cars at the airport. That person was unable to rent a car to me at the cruise port but provided me a contact at Rodael Car Rental. I got a 2012 Toyota Corolla for $40 per day, plus $15 government fee, plus $8 sales tax. I added the full collision for $31 and a GPS for $5. This was much cheaper than the big name rental cars companies and there were no problems with any scams to extort more money out of me at the end of the day. In fact, when I returned the car and told them that my rum search only yielded one bottle of the rums I was looking for, the clerk said jump in the car and took me to Phillipsburg Liquors where I found a second bottle of rum that I had been looking for, along with some other premium liquor. www.rodealcarrental.com

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St. Thomas
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
11-29-2012. Arrived in St. Thomas on the Ruby Princess in search of Premium Rum. My pre-cruise research on Trip Advisor & Cruise Critic revealed older postings that stated that St.Maarten, not St. Thomas was the place for the highest selection of rum at the cheapest prices. Thankfully this is no longer the case, since I had a disappointing search on St. Maarten.

The first place I went to was Dynasty Liquors in the Havensight Mall, they also have a store in Charlotte Amelie (I ended up going to both). They both had better prices on premium rum than I can get in Florida, but I already have all of their brands. What I did get was 1 liter bottles of various Stolichnaya Vodkas for $11.50 each, the cherry version of Grand Marnier 700 ml for $25, a cool 750ml bottle of Japanese rice vodka called Kissui for $32, a 1 liter bottle of Chili Pepper infused Tequila called Bear Hug for $20, a 1 liter bottle of Stolichnaya Elite for $48 and a 750 ml bottle of Frangelico for $17.

Back on the rum search I found a bottle of "Brugal 1888" for $50 at a little store called Caribana. I have had other Brugal rum but this "1888" series is a hard rum to find outside the Dominican Republic. I also found it at a liquor store at the cruise ship port (Supreme Liquors) for $40 which was a big surprise! If I like it I will get it at that store next time.

Jewelry:

I never in a million years intended to look at or buy any jewelry. However we stumbled into Artistic Jewelers with the offer of free earrings (should have known better) to Princess cruisers and got an amazing deal on a blue sapphire and diamond ring in white gold. They had to enlarge the ring by two sizes and did not charge extra for the work or the gold. They also made us the best black cherry rum and cokes while we waited for the ring to be sized and buffed (it only took 1 hour). We stopped at a few other jewelry stores on the way back to the ship and during small talk told them we just bought a ring and asked how much they would have sold it to us for. I expected all of them to quote me ridiculously low prices "to prove that I should have bought from them" and each of them came up with prices that were higher than we paid. If you decide to stop in the store, I would recommend talking to our saleswoman Helen or the owner Max. We will definitely stop in to see them the next time we are in St. Thomas. www.artisticcvi.com

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Grand Turk
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Nothing to really see in Grand Turk! The cruise ship drops you off at their dock which has all the usual jewelry stores etcetera and a Margaritaville. I will say that the Duty Free store had excellent prices on liquor. I got two bottles of "Flor De Cana" 18 year old rum for $36 per bottle. The same bottle costs me $53 in Florida.

I also took a taxi into the "town" (maybe three streets in size)and found some 15 year old "Trouvadore" rum ($38) which is only made on Grand Turk (limited production of 2,000 bottles) and not available for sale in the duty free shop or anywhere outside of Grand Turk.

***Special note is the Grand Turk 8 year old rum "Bamberra Reserve" was selling for $33 in the duty free shop and it was $22 in the local liquor store. It seems they jack up the price of the local rum at the duty free store.

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