One of the few downsides to the cruise itinerary was that the ship docked daily at 7am. If you’re like us and want to stay out late gambling, dancing, and hanging out at bars, that’s kind of rough. But it was our first day, so we were up bright and early! From the balcony, we saw the Queen Mary 2 arriving in Sint Maarten as well.
The ship had experienced an outbreak of novovirus on the previous virus, which meant that for the first three days in the buffet, you were not allowed to serve yourself. You had to point out everything you wanted and be served, including at the beverage stations. It slowed things down, but the situation was understandable.
We got off the ship and headed into the port area. People were being herded toward cabs, but I’d read that it was an easy walk into Philipsburg. It only took about 15 minutes to get there. We made a mental note to return for Rum Jumbie, too.
Even the city beach was gorgeous. Philipsburg is bright and colorful, with the typical beachfront walk lined with tourist shops, restaurants, and bars. We stopped at a bar that was just opening at 10am and ordered a couple of rum punches. It’s never too early in the Caribbean. Also, the bar had a Packers clock. Confusing.
We wandered a few blocks into the downtown, stopped into an awesome casino, and then found a liquor store that seemed to have everything we could ever want for cheap. We were in there for at least half an hour, and they took care to wrap everything very carefully for us. The owner also sold Matt three Cuban cigars, telling him, “one for after dinner, one for before sex, one for after sex!”
A few stores later, we found the famous Juggie’s Place. Their special is a cigar and two beers for $2.99. You can’t go wrong! We were happy to take advantage of the bathrooms, too.
We picked up a bottle of the famous Rum Jumbie (made only in Sint Maarten!), then decided to take everything back to the ship and change for the beach. We walked down to the water taxi stand and climbed aboard. Though there’s a charge to use it, nobody asked us to pay.
We dropped off our giant rum stash, changed clothes, and walked back into the port to get a cab to Orient Beach. The driver, Dan, told us all about growing up in the area, and how much it had changed in the past 50 years. He pointed out everyone’s house, too, including that of the governor’s son and his six wives.
Orient Beach is on the French side of the island (Saint Martin), so we got to visit two countries in one cab ride!
Dan dropped us off at Pedros at the end of Orient Beach, showed us the dividing line between the nude resorts and the regular part of the beach (right next to Pedro’s), and said he would pick us up at 4pm. We’re pretty sure he stayed there the entire time, too.
We had nachos and rum punch at Pedros and enjoyed the view. There weren’t too many naked people, but they still made us giggle every time we saw one. A few crossed over to the main beach and walked past.
Orient Beach has the typical setup where every restaurant/resort has its own beach chairs available; you claim the ones you want, and eventually an employee will come ask you for payment and your drink order. Pedros charges $15 for two chairs, an umbrella, two drinks, and the use of their bathroom, which is about the best deal you can find.
We walked up and down Orient Beach, ending up back at Pedros. Our server, Superman, eventually woke from his nap and set us up with chairs and rum punches. We went for a swim with our drinks, and an errant wave stole half of Matt’s rum. (I’m pretty sure that’s the biggest tragedy you can encounter there, short of a hurricane.)
Superman convinced me to get a Penis Colada. It seemed appropriate, considering the view.
He then planted another penis straw in the sand, and we all sat around laughing about it for way too long. Possibly the rum had something to do with that. Superman eventually returned to his nap in a nearby chair.
We sat around watching the windsurfers and the naked people walking past. 4pm came way too quickly.
Dan drove us back to the cruise port, where we stopped at an Indian grocery for snacks and beverages. We also stopped at the Rum Jumbie stand to actually try some, as we hadn’t opened ours yet. At the gate to the ships, we were told that they didn’t allow open glass bottles, so Matt had to slam his Lucozade. I think that gave him enough energy for the next three days.
We showered and sat on our balcony eating delicious Indian snacks and watching the ship leave port. Once we were back out at sea, we headed up to the buffet, where Matt discovered the sushi boat. It was his greatest day ever. I myself had some pizza. We ate on the back deck, watching the sunset.
Afterwards, we went up to play a very long game of HORSE (it’s hard to play basketball on a ship!), then an improvised soccer game involving a squash racket.
We headed down to the coffee bar to visit our new friend Velika, then went to the game room next door to play Scrabble.
Post-Scrabble, we went to Rendezvous (the midship bar with a small stage) to watch the band for a while, and then headed to Revelations (aka “The Bar at the End of the Earth” – a way better name) because they had reggae at 10pm. We got a table and met our server, Winston. He was Jamaican, so he knew all about rum punch; he fixed us up with some highly delicious versions, and also a carafe of nuts that quickly disappeared. When ‘No Woman, No Cry’ came on, of course I cried. And then my contact fell out of my eye.
After reggae, DJ Ron Hollywood showed up and started spinning. He was a DJ in the loosest sense of the term, but played halfway decent music anyway. There were very few people there dancing (probably mostly due to the 7am daily port times), but that didn’t bother us. I requested Daddy Yankee, and we danced to it. Then there was Soulja Boy and Jay-Z. I loved the old folks dancing to hiphop.
Matt made friends with an old guy from Puerto Rico named Jose (who we would later see at that bar every single night). It was hard to hear him over the music and through his accent, but he told a long story about the time he proposed to a stripper. AWESOME.
Of course, we went to bed way too late for the early morning start, but it was worth it.