Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May 2006, Caribbean Princess Cruise -- Day 5

Wednesday, St. Maarten

Distance sailed so far:
Fort Lauderdale to St. Thomas, 1131 nautical miles
St. Thomas to St. Maarten, 115 n.m.
for a total of 1246 n.m.

Map of St. Maarten & St. MartinWhen we woke up at 7:00 A.M. we were already slowly finishing our docking in the tiny bi-national island of St. Maarten -- the bottom half belongs to the Netherlands, the top half, St. Martin, is part of France. The whole island is about seven miles across. The sky was gray and it looked like it might rain any minute. The view of the waterfront here isn't as pretty as in St. Thomas -- some shabby warehouses and a container port facility.

We left the Caribbean Princess mid-morning and walked up the dock to take a water taxi into the town of Philipsburg. It started to rain and I went ahead to the shopping area to get some postcards to send out. We got the right stamps at the Customer Service desk on board. By the time I got the cards and got back to the ship I was soaked -- but it was a warm rain. Later I went back to mail the cards and took an umbrella this time.

At the end of the dock there are several shops and cafes. Very nicely done. I could see the entrance to the water taxi and the line of people, wet people, was about five city blocks long. Our ship was one of four that docked about the same time, so there were at least 10,000 passengers total. And it looked like half of them were trying to take the water taxi into town at the same time.

We had planned to go into town and shop for Dutch things and have lunch there. Or perhaps go to the French side of the island for lunch, but it wasn't the right weather for sightseeing.

We stayed on the ship and had a great lunch in the Coral Dining Room. Despite the wind and rain many passengers were off exploring the tiny island. So there were few diners and very attentive service. Their complicated salads, like Salade Nicoise, are limp and gooey but they always have wonderful burgers, soups and green salads. And all the desserts you might want.

It was a good afternoon to read, nap or watch the giant cranes in the container port load, unload and reposition those big shipping containers.

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