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Cruises to St. Maarten

4 Awards
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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Seven Seas Splendor
Seven Seas Splendor (Photo: Regent Seven Seas)

14 Night
Caribbean - Eastern CruiseDetails

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Feb 8, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Celebrity Millennium
Celebrity Millennium

8 Night
Fort Lauderdale To San JuanDetails

Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Feb 3, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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MSC Magnifica
MSC Magnifica

19 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises
Apr 30, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Harmony of the Seas
Harmony of the Seas

7 Night
7 Nt Eastern Caribbean & Perfect DayDetails

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

9 Night
Eastern Caribbean & BermudaDetails

Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Aug 18, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Eastern Caribbean CruiseDetails

Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Southern Caribbean CruiseDetails

Leaving:Bayonne
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Southern Caribbean - New YorkDetails

Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Dec 16, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

8 Night
Eastern Caribbean & BahamasDetails

Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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6 Night
Caribbean - Other ProductDetails

Leaving:San Juan
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Apr 16, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Eastern Caribbean Holiday CruiseDetails

Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Dec 24, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Eastern Caribbean - Port CanaveralDetails

Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Nov 8, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

8 Night
Eastern Caribbean CruiseDetails

Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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21 Night
South America CruiseDetails

Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 18, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Southern Caribbean CruiseDetails

Leaving:Baltimore
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
Nov 19, 2022
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
St. Maarten offers a lot of options for sport, shopping and sightseeing. Read More
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tmcauban
St. Maarten continues to be our favorite port for a variety of reasons. The beachfront is within walking distance, there are plenty of nice establishments to grab a drink and/or lunch while looking out at the ocean,Read More
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kydave2
First time in St. Maarten. Beautiful island and very friendly peopleRead More
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2ofusrdy4cruisin
we took a taxi to Marigot for a few hours and worth it There is a semblance of France still left - food, clothes, culture. Its not St Barts but better than Phillipsburg (which is one giant shopping mall) Read More
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tfred

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