"" Writer's Wanderings: Lots Of Company In St. Maarten

Friday, January 14, 2022

Lots Of Company In St. Maarten

 St. Maarten has always been a port crowded with cruise ships. Today was no exception even considering the COVID concerns. While all the dock spaces were not filled, there were four other larger ships than ours docked with us. 

The port area is a very nice little shopping mall with the usual Caribbean souvenir shops and jewelry stores and a couple of bars tossed in. It was renovated a few years back and they have continued to expand on it and it appears plan for more in the future.

In the morning, walked the length of the dock since our ship was at the end. That in itself is quite a walk and then we perused the shop offerings that were displayed outside the stores. There is a water taxi that will take you to the main part of town. The cost has gone up since we've been here. It is now $7/person. I seem to remember it being somewhere between $3-5 on previous visits. There is a way to walk into town but you have to go through the parking area to find it. There are taxis and we made note of the assigned area for their dispatch for later as we planned a trip to Maho Beach after lunch. 

Maho Beach is at the end of the airport runway. It is a thrill to watch the planes big and small fly overhead as they come in for a landing. The largest ones arrive in the afternoon and because of our scheduled departure, we had enough time to watch those. The taxi ride was about a half hour at the cost of $25/one way. The driver dropped us off in a large parking lot by the Sunset Bar and we walked the short distance to the beach. 

There were more people than I remembered the last time we did this but that was probably due to our afternoon visit rather than in the morning. It wasn't long before a few small planes and private jets flew over. The one thing you do have to be careful of is when the jets on the ground taxi to the end of the runway to take off. When they turn and rev up, they create a sandstorm if you are in their direct line of fire.

The sun was a bit hot but the breeze helped and I wore my bathing suit so I could take a dip and cool off. Bob does better with the heat than I do. The surf was pretty strong and it was a little tricky getting in and out. Lots of people were body surfing onto the sandy shore--some planned and some not. Those who were giggling and forgot to close their mouth when a wave hit, often got a mouthful of sand.

We stayed at the beach for about an hour and a half, long enough to see a couple of larger planes land. The really big one from Paris must have had a tailwind and landed early just before we arrived. Our driver who had promised to wait for us (I figured he was going to have some refreshment at the bar) had disappeared by the time we were ready to leave. In all fairness, we stayed a half hour longer than we'd said to him. There were plenty of other drivers there in a taxi section of the parking lot and when a helpful security guard couldn't locate our promised ride, he recommended another and we hopped in.

The ride back to the ship took a whole lot longer. I was glad we had a 5:30 departure time and hadn't cut it close. The reason for the long ride was a long wait of about 20 minutes at the bridge that had to open for several large boats to pass through. Our driver, who had another pickup to make after dropping us off, took some back roads through what appeared to be a warehouse district. I'm not sure it saved all that much time because of all the speed bumps he had to slow down for but if it made him feel better, okay.

Our evening started with a beautiful sunset eclipsed by another ship who almost seemed to do it on purpose. They were headed one direction and turned to head the other. I think they were probably following channel markers. Dinner was prime rib with corn on the cob that tasted fresh picked and followed by a energy filled show of singers and dancers. 

We did a late evening walk around the Promenade Deck again. Seems like we're getting into a routine. The daily program left in our room each night was of great interest to us. Our scheduled port stop in the US Virgin Islands at St. John's was canceled. Our ship is still on the yellow level probably because of the outbreak among the crew on the previous cruise. Even though CDC requirements are due to change, the St. John's authorities denied us entry. On the bright side, another sea day is not a bad thing. Good weather, good food and lots of relaxing.

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