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Cruises to St. Martin

St. Martin (Photo:Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

About St. Martin

Perhaps the most oft-quoted bit of Caribbean cruise port trivia is that the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is the smallest occupied by two sovereign nations. Though snuggled together in a scant 37 square miles of mountainous terrain, these two countries maintain distinct identities.

The Dutch side (St. Maarten) is home to large resorts/casinos, bustling beaches and tons of get-it-cheap, duty-free shopping, while the French side (St. Martin) features quaint bed and breakfasts and luxurious resorts, laid-back beaches and the charm of local artisans at the waterfront market. Although St. Martin is the larger hunk of the island, it draws far fewer visitors.

Some smaller ships call on Marigot, St. Martin's capital, but the majority of lines dock on the busier side of the island in Philipsburg. It's simple and economical to make a cab trip from the Dutch side to St. Martin, especially for those who wish only to spend some time in Marigot.

One major draw is the shopping. There are bargains to be found, and St. Martin is duty-free for the most part, but Marigot attracts those who seek couture and upscale imports from France. Boutiques there fit the bill, reminding many of a more down-to-earth version of St. Barts.

St. Martin also offers cafes, bistros and brasseries ... most serving up tasty creations with Gallic flavors and panache. St. Martin has some of the prettiest beaches in the Caribbean, with assets to please everyone: families, snorkelers, romantics and those who like to catch some rays wearing nothing but SPF 50.

  • More about St. Martin

  • Why go to St. Martin?

  • St. Martin Cruise Port Facilities?

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Seabourn Sojourn
Seabourn Sojourn

27 Night
Atlantic Crossing & Leeward Island JewelsDetails

146 Reviews
Leaving:Lisbon
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Nov 4, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Seabourn Quest
Seabourn Quest (Photo: Seabourn Cruises)

14 Night
Leeward Island JewelsDetails

154 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Nov 7, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Seabourn Quest
Seabourn Quest (Photo: Seabourn Cruises)

28 Night
Atlantic Coast & Leeward IslandsDetails

154 Reviews
Leaving:Montreal
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Oct 24, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Seabourn Sojourn
Seabourn Sojourn

14 Night
Leeward Island JewelsDetails

146 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Nov 17, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Caribbean CruiseDetails

Leaving:Martinique
Cruise Line:Ponant
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

35 Night
Leeward Islands & Panama Canal PassageDetails

146 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Nov 17, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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28 Night
Leeward Islands, Central America & Panama CanalDetails

154 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Nov 7, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about St. Martin

Why go to St. Martin?

Pros:

St. Martin is home to the famous Maho Beach, where cruisers can watch planes land and take off

Cons:

The port's myriad high rises and casinos can make it feel tacky and overdeveloped

Bottom Line:

While beaches and shopping are the main draws, there are still plenty of hidden gems

St. Martin Cruise Port Facilities?

If you're debarking in Marigot, you'll be within a few steps of the Marigot Market, restaurants and several attractions. Serious shoppers could spend a half day just poking around the downtown.

Good to Know?

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

Getting Around?

By Taxi: Cabs wait at the port to take you where you'd like to go.

On Two Wheels: For the visitor who has been to St. Martin before and wants to explore at a slower, more in-depth pace, consider a bicycle or moped (although you need to watch out for Marigot's sometimes heavy traffic). You can rent one from Eugene Moto in Sandy Ground (Route de Sandy, Marigot; 590-87-13-97). Be sure to ask for maps and suggested routes.

On Foot: Everything you could possibly want is within a few feet of the terminal, including shopping, a market, dining, ATMs and Internet services.

Renting a Car: The Port of Marigot features several rental car agencies, including Lucky's Car Rental (luckys.car.rental@wanadoo.fr), Keith's Car Rental (keithcarrental.reservations@orange.fr), United with Claude Car Rental (ucr@sxmtrans.com), A&K Car Rental (ak.carrental@gmail.com) and other local companies.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The euro is the main currency on St. Martin and is the only one dispensed by ATM machines on this side of the island. This is one stop where it pays to keep your dollars, however, as many vendors and restaurants offer a 1:1 conversion ratio for U.S. cash. (The banks in St. Maarten, the Dutch side, will give you a choice of dollars or Netherland Antilles guilders.)

Language?

On this side of the island, the locals speak French as their main language, although most people in the tourist industry are fluent in English. (As in most French Caribbean islands, a friendly "bon jour" goes a long way.)

Where You're Docked?

The Port of Marigot is right in the heart of Marigot, so the terminal contains few services. This is also where ferries to Anguilla depart, so there is a place to stash your luggage, if you are on one of the few cruises that embark/debark in Marigot. Most larger cruise ships call in Philipsburg, on the Dutch side.


St. Martin Cruise Reviews
No question this is our favourite island. We have stayed on it many times and love the diversity of both the dutch and french side. Again, very long street with multiple shopping options but also a fabulous boardwaRead More
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Molvic55
We took a taxi (painful experience) to the famous beach near St Juliana airport and watched planes while drinking and eating! It was fun and we made it back to the ship in time by sharing a cab.Read More
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CruiseCoupleX
Spent time on the Boardwalk and enough places are open to enjoy the dayRead More
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elklemi
rented jeep toured independentlyRead More
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mopdogs2

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