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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.

  • Why go to St. Maarten?

  • St. Maarten Cruise Port Facilities?

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Sirena
Sirena
Sirena

10 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

230 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Sky
Norwegian Sky
Norwegian Sky

9 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic
Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Sky
Norwegian Sky
Norwegian Sky

9 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Virgin Voyages

Nieuw Statendam

21 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Riviera

12 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Gem

10 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Gem

10 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Harmony of the Seas

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Sirena

11 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Barbados
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Epic

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Enchantment of the Seas

12 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Baltimore
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Symphony of the Seas

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Enchantment of the Seas

12 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Baltimore
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Harmony of the Seas

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Explorer of the Seas

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Nieuw Statendam

21 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Harmony of the Seas

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Gem

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:La Romana
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Symphony of the Seas

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Sky Princess

7 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Anthem of the Seas

11 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Anthem of the Seas

11 Night
Cruise to St. MaartenDetails

Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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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 convenient... Read 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... Read More
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cruiselogic
We strolled around st maarten, we are dutch so it was good to see that hurricane damage at least in philipsburg was for a big part restored Very friendly people on the watertaxi from ship to town... Read More
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peterwestenberg

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