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Island Hopping in St. Maarten
Arguably, St. Maarten is one of the Caribbean's most popular ports of call. There's a pretty good chance your first Caribbean cruise called here. After a couple of return visits, you probably started looking hard for the offbeat, the unusual. Two more visits and you figured you could conduct a ship's port lecture singled-handedly. So, here's an idea you might not have thought of: A great thing to do for repeat visitors in St. Maarten, might actually be to leave the island. Why? Besides being a frequented destination for cruisers, St. Maarten is a popular base for yachters and other island-hopping vagabonds. That's because being positioned amid a clump of nearby islands -- many very different in ambiance, resources and personality -- makes a great jumping-off point for a day trip. Since many voyages arrive in St. Maarten early and depart late, ranging far afield would seem both easy and economical. But while you can use St. Maarten as a departure point from which to venture to neighboring islands, you'll want to do a bit of homework before heading off. Ferry or flight delays (should you choose to fly) could mean missing your cruise ship's departure, so you'll want to have an alternate plan in your back pocket, in case your day trip does not go according to schedule. Itching to try something new during your next call at St. Maarten? Why not opt for visiting one of the following?
Best Eastern Caribbean Shore Excursions
Why cruise miles into the Eastern Caribbean for the same outlet-style shopping and crowded beaches that can be found stateside? The traditional jewelry canopies, duty-free shops, cocktail bar chains and hard sells on the waterfront have run their course with some cruisers, and the quest for new perspectives and unique thrills has begun. Travelers are pushing for more active and enriching port excursions that avoid traditional tourist pursuits and replace them with authentic thrills that are unique to the islands. Whether it's hiking through lush rainforests, touring the homes of native artists or saddling up a dune buggy for a high-adventure ride, cruise passengers are getting better acquainted with the people, culture and terrain of these gorgeous islands during their time ashore. Below is a sampling of some of the more extraordinary excursions offered by the cruise lines. Activity levels range from mild to intense, so whether you want a leisurely stroll through an authentic village or a heart-pumping hike to reclusive views and endangered species, there is something for every thrill-seeker.