Our first stop, we arrived in to Philipsburg, St. Maarten and St. Martin. Only 37 square miles, or about half the size of Washington, D.C., the island is divided between the southern half (Sint Maarten) ruled by the Dutch and the northern half (Saint Martin) ruled by the French. It is the world's smallest territory shared by two sovereign states.
The first full day of our cruise really didn't start until 1pm because that's when our excursion started. So, we got to sleep in. And boy, was it nice. Although, I think I woke up a few times to find a clock, but apparently those aren't needed on a ship - so I had to use my cell phone. And damn if I wasn't blinded every time I opened my cell to see what time it was then.
We ordered room service the night before to be delivered to our room. We thought it would be nice to start our vacation with breakfast in bed. Why we had it delivered at 8:00am?? I'm not sure now that I think about it (oh yeah, we were convinced to go to a 9am soiree that our friends didn't even go to!). It was a good thing that we did though because the eggs sucked... if you want to call them that. So we got dressed and headed up to the buffet deck. I had heard a lot about the waffles and pancakes and made to order omelets.
After breakfast, we made our way on shore to see the local shops and find some of the infamous guavaberry jam. This local berry is a staple on the island to make liquors, jams, and sauces. Usually at each pier there are tons of shops with local flavors and always a duty free shop. Sometimes these shops are more expensive than if you decide to walk 100 yards away. So we decided to head for the "road less traveled" before lunch.
I always try to find local works of art or like I mentioned before, local flavors such as the guavaberry jam. Along the way, of course there are tons of duty free diamond and fine jewelry shops. Although these prices are remarkably better than in the states, if you actually go on a cruise just to shop for jewelry you have way too much money (unless of course you're searching for that stunning anniversary band to match your engagement ring). I? purchased a sea turtle bobble head and a larger one made of quartz and local woods. Although I think I got conned into buying it because I was his "first customer of the day", I'm still happy with my purchase.
We headed back to the ship for lunch and grabbed our gear to head out for our Shipwreck Snorkel Adventure. Even though the water was a little colder than normal this time of year and the waves were a little choppy, we had a good time. We saw 8 shipwrecks off the coast, got to feed the fish, and not to mention all the rum punch you can drink afterwards.
Although we didn't see much of the island (most of the shops are closed on Sundays and I had read that it was pointless to go to the French town of Marigot. Plus it would have cost us another $40 just to get there and back), I think this is an island that we would visit again in the future. Before we headed back onboard, we made sure to purchase some locally made passion fruit rum (with pieces of the fruit actually in the bottle) and coconut rum. I even got to try my french (or atleast what I could remember - for some reason spanish was in the forefront of my head at the time) and the best homemade crepes with caramel sauce I have ever had in my entire life!! Yes, they were that good!
That evening was formal attire for dinner and we met our table mates for the first time. Although we had originally asked to be seated with just the four of us, we were pleasantly surprised about our company. Scottie, a 6 month pregnant woman, and Sally, her mother were traveling from Arizona and had some wonderful stories to tell during dinner.
After dinner, we watched some horrible acts of karaoke, drank some more at the bar, and had a great time laughing at each other. The next day, Dominica and the zip line!