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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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