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Home > Member Reviews > Aerun's Port Reviews of Nassau, St. Maarten, San Juan

Aerun's Port Reviews of Nassau, St. Maarten, San Juan
Nieuw Amsterdam cruise in April 2013
Member Name: Aerun
Cruise Date: April 2013
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Member Review: Aerun's Nieuw Amsterdam Review
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
We only had about 4 hours here (8 a.m. to noon) so we decided to walk around and do a little shopping and go back on the boat. There are tons of tour options you can do on your own when you get off the vote. I did not see it necessary to do an organized tour. We walked all over and it was fine. We also stopped in a large chain hotel and hung out at their beach no charge for a bit, which was very nice. There were plenty of lounge chairs and very few people. The cabana people offered us towels as well, but we hadn't planned on swimming there - we had only intended to just look, but decided to hang around for a little bit on the lounge chairs, which was nice.

Two people we talked to about the excursions they took were very unhappy with them. One spent $165 on the Aqua Adventure at the Aquarius (that big pink resort - I forget what it was called) which allowed them to use the water slides, but by the time they got there and got situated they only had about 1.5 hours to use the slides. They felt it was not worth the money for that short of time. If there was more time, I bet it would have been better, but again they sell day passes for less than that.

The other one was the Ardasta Gardens and City Tour. The guest said that it took forever to load everyone on the tour bus and then they had less than an hour to walk around the garden and come back. They paid $65 pp for this. You could get a cab to take you on a tour and to the gardens for about $25 a person. You can actually just walk around the town itself (very small).

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St. Maarten
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
The shops in Philipsburg were kind of seedy and somewhat trashy with the same cruise ship shops. The restaurants were not very good and over priced and the service was poor in many places we went. I have been here before and usually would hire a cab for about $40 to drive around the island for a 3 to 4 hour tour with stops in the Orient Beach - a few hours of beach time) and in Marigot - the French side city, which is lovely. But this time I wanted to see the airplanes land and take off at Maho Beach. The cab fare we negotiated down to $7 pp each, which was still kind of expensive. Maho Beach is very tiny and it was interesting to see the planes, but I would only do this once. Check the plane schedules before you go and try to see one of the larger transatlantic planes. Most planes fly in from noon to 4 p.m. Traffic was really bad so it took sometime to get back to Phillipsburg.
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San Juan
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
We didn't have too many plans for San Juan, since we had all been there before, but walking along the pier we saw a sign to visit the Bacardi Rum Distillery - so we decided to do it. We found the Ferry Terminal just to the East of the Cruise ship docks, in a non-nondescript building. You need to take a ferry to Catano and then a taxi/bus to the Bacardi Factory. The ferry to Catano is very regular and costs 0.50 cents each way. Once you get off the dock at Catano, we were directed by a man at the entrance to a yellow parking garage about a block from the ferry terminal. Once there a man asked if we were going to Bacardi and ushered us into a white van. The van then took us and one other passenger to the Bacardi Distillery which is quite a distance. The tour is free and you get two rum drink tickets. Its a nice tour and the drinks were good. There is also a decent gift shop. The van ride cost us $3.00 each. There is a place you can wait for a van to take you back to the ferry pier when you are done with the tour. You need 4 people before it can go or pay for the fourth person. We waited and not long the van was filled. We also had lunch at Raices which is a short walk from the ferry in San Juan and had delicious fried pork. We then did a little shopping in Old San Juan, which was actually pretty good with a lot of local artisans and crafts. It was very lovely and there was a really nice breeze. The same or similar tour excursion offered by the Cruise was $65 pp. We spent $3.50 each or $7.00 round trip each. It was very easy to do yourself.

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