St. Maarten is great for shopping. I purchased beautiful table linens and runners and paid a very reasonable price. There is one jewelry store after another but I cannot comment on them since I did no shopping for jewelry. Although, I did notice many women wearing shiny new jewelry that night. We purchased four bottles of liquor & our friends bought cigarettes for extremely low prices.
I was very surprised to see how poor St. Lucia truly is. As we headed up the mountain for Tea on the Mourne, we passed many ramshackle houses built on stilts with chickens and goats in their front yards. The roofs were fashioned from tin & most houses consisted of only one or two rooms. The road was strewn with garbage and the foliage was overgrown and unkept. Many people seemed to be just hanging out in the streets talking. We did not see much commerce in town. I got the distinct impression that St. Lucia is very much like a third world country.
I loved Martinique because it was so colorful and they speak French. I speak French also so I could not wait to get off the boat and start talking with the locals. My husband and I walked to St. Louis cathedral and I lit a candle and talked to the locals. One woman told us to go to the townhall for a cultural show. We went and saw the Martinique dance troupe. They were terrific but the sun was too hot so we left. We then continued on to the strawmarket and my husband couldn't stop me from conversing with everyone I saw. They were all very friendly. The women at the strawmarket wanted too much for tee shirts so we walked across the street and bought two tees for $20 with French phrases on them. Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and most of the stores and businesses were closed.
Shopper's paradise. The ship pulled in and the open vans were lined up waiting for us. The cost into downtown is $4 per person each way. At the end of the main street across from Little Switzerland is an open market. They feature cover-ups, jewelry and knock-off handbags for very reasonable prices. A shop-a-holic could easily spend all day at the open market alone. If you're not into open markets, there are jewelry stores, liquor shops, clothing, etc. For people with difficulty walking, there is a mini-version of downtown stores directly outside of ship on the dock. Some of those stores were Omni Jewelers, Diamonds International, souvenir stores, Cardow's and H. Stern.