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Cruises to St. Maarten

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St. Maarten (Photo:Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

About St. Maarten

St. Maarten is busier than ever, as cruise lines call on Philipsburg with their biggest ships. (Sometimes there are a half-dozen in port at one time.) There's also more to do once you disembark, with shopping and beaches serving as the primary attractions.

That can be viewed as either good news (more shopping choices, better deals and more beach activities) or bad news (more people) for this port of call, which, along with neighboring St. Martin, makes up the world's smallest island inhabited by two countries.

St. Maarten, like many other Caribbean islands, was spotted by Christopher Columbus in 1493. But the island's real history began with French and Dutch settlers who divided the island in 1648. They have lived side-by-side ever since. St. Maarten, governed by the Netherlands Antilles until 2010, is now a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (along with Aruba, Curacao and the Netherlands), while St. Martin is part of the French West Indies. What's particularly fun is that you can easily swing back and forth from the Dutch to the French sides and enjoy the best of both.

On either side of the mountainous island, lovely beaches -- including the famed clothing-optional part of Orient Beach -- rival the best in the Caribbean. Plus, duty-free prices for electronics and liquor in Philipsburg might be the best deals around.

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Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

4,161 Reviews
Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
ItineraryShipReviewsFull Details
Feb 6, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Dec 5, 2021
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Dec 26, 2021
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Escape
Norwegian Escape (Photo: Norwegian)

11 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Dec 23, 2021
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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6 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Mar 27, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Feb 25, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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8 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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8 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Apr 22, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

8 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

2,148 Reviews
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:Barbados
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Dec 26, 2021
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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8 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Dec 23, 2021
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Feb 11, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:Baltimore
Cruise Line:Carnival Cruise Line
Nov 5, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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8 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
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Cruise Critic Favorite

14 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
Feb 22, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Dec 13, 2021
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:Baltimore
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Cruise to St. Maarten

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
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Why go to St. Maarten?

Pros:

This island is shared by St. Maarten (Dutch) and St. Martin (French), giving visitors two ports in one

Cons:

You'll need to take your passport with you if you plan to visit both places

Bottom Line:

This destination is ideal for cruisers who like to maximize their time in port

St. Maarten Cruise Port Facilities?

A five-minute walk from the cruise terminal (going toward Philipsburg) takes you to the small boat marina named Dock Maarten -- pun intended. There, you'll find shops, water taxis and boat tour operators and a popular waterfront bar and grill, Chesterfield's.

Slightly farther, Philipsburg's pedestrian-friendly downtown is a definite duty-free shopping destination; great buys can be found on electronics, liquor and jewelry.

Good to Know?

Tourists tend to be robbery targets, so don't flash valuables or cash, and do not leave anything valuable in a car or on the beach.

Getting Around?

On Foot: The main on-foot attraction at the base of the pier is a set of duty-free shops. After that, it's a 20-minute walk into downtown Philipsburg. For a more scenic view, take a brief water taxi ride from the port to Captain Hodge Pier at the foot of the boardwalk. Then, continue your on-foot exploration from there.

Taxis: Taxi operators in St. Maarten are under government regulation. Passengers at the port facility queue up under signs designating per-person rates and destinations -- everything from one-way to Philipsburg to a full island tour. Charges are based on two passengers and destination. Additional passengers cost extra. Check out the Dutch St. Maarten Taxi Association for more information.

Vehicles range from standard taxis to large vans and open safari-style vehicles, and rates are per vehicle, so you'll pay less if you have more people. The per-person savings aren't that huge, so if you are on a tight schedule and don't know your taxi-mates well, it's probably best to go it alone (they might pipe up that they want to add an island tour or a detour to the beach).

Water Taxi: A water taxi operates between the cruise pier and the heart of downtown Philipsburg; the cost is reasonable, and a roundtrip discount is often available.

By Rental Car: This is a destination where renting a car can be a benefit (particularly if you have four or more people and want to see sights on both St. Maarten and St. Martin). There are a handful of agencies at the cruise pier.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder on the Dutch side and the euro on the French side, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Banks and ATMs are readily available, and most establishments take credit cards (although you'll have to pay cash at the smaller beach bars).

Language?

Although the official language is Dutch for St. Maarten and French for St. Martin, virtually everyone speaks English.

Where You're Docked?

The Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities, St. Maarten's pier and cruise terminal, is a boon to cruise passengers, especially those who find tendering unpleasant, inconvenient or physically challenging. In most cases, ships will dock there, where it's less than one mile to the heart of Philipsburg. (Inexpensive water taxis are available for those who don't want to walk.) On busy days when lots of ships are in port, tendering to Little Pier, right in the center of Philipsburg, is a possibility.


St. Maarten Cruise Reviews
Have been to St Maarten previously both on ships and at hotels so not much interest in touring around. Off the main shopping street you can still see hurricane damage. Took sea taxi back to ship, very convenientRead More
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bookmama22
Like St Maarten. 6 ships in the day we went (including 3 P & O trips). Just walked into town and had a few beers at a beach bar.Read More
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GYBR53
Beach and town was a 15 minutes walk ...St.Marten beach is nice..I was disgusted that a restaurant would not allow us to use the washroom.The staff indicated that it was customers only.Upon our return to ship we wereRead More
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cruiselogic
St, Maarten is continuing to recover from the hurricane a few years ago. Marigot on the French side is still pretty devastated. A few restaurants are up and running. We rented a car for the day and also drove to RaRead More
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NBliving

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