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Thoughts on the island So Far #189196
03/31/2019 09:00 AM
03/31/2019 09:00 AM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 48
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RickandJulie Offline OP
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RickandJulie  Offline OP
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Arrived on Wednesday. Staying in French Cul De Sac so we have for the most part stayed on the French side. As we have driven around and seen the amount of construction going on I would say the word is "Encouraged". There is still a lot of debris and abandoned cars but it is less so than we anticipated. As others have stated in previous posts, the residents are thrilled we are here. Everyone has been exceptionally nice. We spend most of our days on Orient Beach and every other visitor we meet is having a great time. The beach is as beautiful as ever.

Now, for a little of the other side. We went down to Phillipsburg yesterday not realizing there were 7 cruise ships in port. Okay, okay, I know, we should have checked the schedule. Here's the surprising part. It was not crowded at all. On our way in we must have passed 16 or 17 tour buses headed out to Orient but when we arrived in Phillipsburg we easily found parking and started to walk the boardwalk to see what was open and what had changed. BTW, if you have not tried Caribbean Blend on the boardwalk you are missing a real treat. I had the grilled flounder and Julie had the Mahi Mahi. Both were exceptional and others around us were also raving about the food. Must try it.

My only concerning comments are after strolling Front Street and talking to a lot of the shop owners is they are very concerned about the lack of traffic. We expected it to be mobbed but there was hardly anybody in the shops. They are saying that people are coming in to enjoy the air conditioning but then leaving without buying anything. We finally left after we kept getting harassed by street solicitors trying to hand you a card and get you to come into their shop. One theory we heard from some cruise ship passengers we sat beside at lunch was that the new ships have so much shopping available right on the ship that no one feels excited about shopping in the various ports of call.

Julie just told me this is WAY too long so I'll sign off now and get ready to head for the beach.. More later.

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Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189197
03/31/2019 09:07 AM
03/31/2019 09:07 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 14,123
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
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ruralcarrier  Offline
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Thanks for the report. Seems a lot of the cruise ship traffic is missing town. They are either staying on the ship or doing tours via the ship to beaches, excursions, etc. We went into town one day a couple of weeks ago, NO ships in port at all and it was almost like a ghost town. Pretty sad.


J.D.
Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189198
03/31/2019 09:18 AM
03/31/2019 09:18 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 69,399
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
Thanks for the report. That is sad and surprising about there being no one in town, with that many ships in!!

No way the report is too long, just your wife wants to go to the beach! Can't say I blame her. Enjoy!!!


Carol Hill
Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: ruralcarrier] #189202
03/31/2019 09:44 AM
03/31/2019 09:44 AM
Joined: Jul 2015
Posts: 789
Cobourg Ontario Canada
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jeepers Offline
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We had lunch with some people who had been on a cruise. They said why would we go onshore & buy beer & lunch when it's included on the ship? I stared at them & said "so there's a port to come to on your cruise". Having been to st Martin 21 trips & many trips to the jewelry stores I have found the swarovski store & spend time there as well. I tell them the island experience is something they can't get on the ship. Hope They will rethink & pass that on.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189204
03/31/2019 09:49 AM
03/31/2019 09:49 AM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 48
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RickandJulie Offline OP
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RickandJulie  Offline OP
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I think the cruise ship industry is being short sighted here. First, they demand that islands such as St. Martin improve their infrastructure to accommodate the larger ships. Then, they create and promote their own shore excursion tours. Finally, they take away any reason why a tourist should spend money anywhere but on their ship.

The problem with that is when all the businesses close they will no longer have any reason to visit the various islands. Then what do they do. Keep them at sea for 11 days?

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189208
03/31/2019 10:50 AM
03/31/2019 10:50 AM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 56
Philadelphia, PA
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Alexander9228 Offline
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Thanks for the info! Really starting to hate the cruise industry lol. Just saw a friend from high school was on a cruise that stopped at St. Martin. I didn't wanna be rude so I kept my mouth shut but I just don't understand how you could enjoy being on such a beautiful island for mere hours before getting back on your floating hotel/mall. People need to be more adventurous and explore these islands and support the local tourism industry, not shell out a couple grand to Royal Caribbean to sit in a pool on a ship all day. Sorry, rant over. Enjoy your trip!



[Linked Image]

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189209
03/31/2019 10:51 AM
03/31/2019 10:51 AM
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SammyM Offline
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The whole purpose of taking a cruise is to visit the various ports-of-call and explore new things. We've taken many cruises in the past, and though we have breakfast and dinner on the ship we always have lunch at a local restaurant so we can say we ate at a restaurant at that location. Some people may return to the ship for lunch, but I would think far more people will eat at their intended destination. The first time we made port in St. Maarten years ago we visited Orient Beach and had lunch at Kakao and loved it.

When it comes to shopping, yes you can shop on the ship but believe me the prices are no better than what you'll find at the various ports-of-call. Only the last day or two of a cruise do they mark stuff down, and even then it's just tee shirts and other lower cost items. One reason that I believe shopping may be down a bit in cities like Philipsburg could be the rising costs associated with cruises. Today, so much money is spent on the cruise itself and transportation to get to-and-from the cruise port additional funds for shopping are getting reduced. Last year my wife and I went on a Mediterranean cruise with Celebrity. For a balcony cabin it was about $3,500 for a seven day cruise from Rome to Barcelona. This year, with Celebrity the same exact cruise is priced just under $5,000 for two people. Add-in the cost to fly to-and-from Europe and now you are looking at seven grand.

Price increases for Caribbean cruises have also increased, though not quite this dramatic. These rising cruise prices could be playing a big role in reducing the pocket cash that people have when shopping at the port. We now take far fewer cruises, and found it much more affordable to forego the cruise and fly directly to our favorite location for a week ... like St. Maarten.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: Alexander9228] #189210
03/31/2019 10:57 AM
03/31/2019 10:57 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 10,418
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Offline
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Different strokes for different folks. Some people just like the cruise experience on the ships. We stayed on board at one port on a cruise rather than going ashore just to veg out.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: ruralcarrier] #189211
03/31/2019 10:58 AM
03/31/2019 10:58 AM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 16,976
St Maarten
BillandElaine Offline
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Have friends with jewelry shops on Front Street. They have said in the past they don't make $$ off the ships, it is the repeat stay over folks where they make their $$


Elaine
*********************************
God Bless the broken road....
Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: BillandElaine] #189227
03/31/2019 01:21 PM
03/31/2019 01:21 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,591
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LBI2SXM Offline
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Originally Posted by RickandJulie

My only concerning comments are after strolling Front Street and talking to a lot of the shop owners is they are very concerned about the lack of traffic. We expected it to be mobbed but there was hardly anybody in the shops. They are saying that people are coming in to enjoy the air conditioning but then leaving without buying anything. We finally left after we kept getting harassed by street solicitors trying to hand you a card and get you to come into their shop. One theory we heard from some cruise ship passengers we sat beside at lunch was that the new ships have so much shopping available right on the ship that no one feels excited about shopping in the various ports of call.



[quote=BillandElaine
Have friends with jewelry shops on Front Street. They have said in the past they don't make $$ off the ships, it is the repeat stay over folks where they make their $$


This has been my gripe with cruisers for many years. I have witnessed many and they are not helping the economy in SXM. Mega ships just add to the misery of traffic, mobbed beaches and trust me, they don't spend a dime. Plus, they leave their garbage all over! The people that support SXM's economy are the visitors. time share owners ,in hotels, expats, these are the people that are helping after Irma. Don't think because Maho Beach is packed that they are making a killing. I know some one who worked there and the only spenders are at the bar. 75% don't purchase chairs, they lay on the ships towels. Who needs them?

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189235
03/31/2019 01:58 PM
03/31/2019 01:58 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,038
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline
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Friends who work in restaurants on the Boardwalk have told us that the ships are discouraging their passengers from disembarking in St. Martin, citing the "devastation" from Irma, and increased crime. Sad, indeed.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189241
03/31/2019 03:12 PM
03/31/2019 03:12 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,178
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
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Shop owners told us the same thing about cruisers not buying. One owner said he gets more business from TS owners or hotel stayer and that places were not being renovated fast enough (that was last March 2018) for occupancy.

This trip we stopped a passing couple on the boardwalk and asked if they had seen more of the island than just the boardwalk. No, they hadn't. So we suggested renting a cab, quick tour around island, perhaps stop at another beach, shop in Marigot, try French cuisine. They said ship told them there was noting to see except the refurbished boardwalk since Irma.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189248
03/31/2019 04:40 PM
03/31/2019 04:40 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 329
Sarasota, Florida
deputydog1157 Offline
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Sarasota, Florida
While I can understand some of the comments I have to say that it was from a cruise that we discovered St. Martin. We are not the type to take a cruise without learning about the ports so we always try to do an excursion that is also educational.

When we were in St. Martin the first time we did one of those tours and loved it. Afterward we strolled down Front Street and bought some souvenirs. Second time we were on a cruise we found Dusty's ATVs and arranged a tour with them. Stopped at many locations and had drinks in a few bars.

What we have come to realize is that we hate the hawkers trying to lure us in to their store, it's not something we are used to in the US. When we were there for a week in September we went to P'burg and walked along Back Street. Not too many hawkers outside but once we stepped inside the store the sales people were hovering over us way too much. In other stores the shopkeepers followed us around like we were going to shoplift. We spent less than 30 minutes there before leaving and going back to the condo.

Once word gets out from cruisers to their friends that the shopkeepers are selling the same crap you can get on Duval Street in Key West but are very pushy the word gets out to stay away.



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Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RonDon] #189253
03/31/2019 05:26 PM
03/31/2019 05:26 PM
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PelicanPirate Offline
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I didnt buy any touristy crap during my recent two weeks. Repeat cruisers have already been sold all that stuff.

As for Jewelry, there are some good shops and maybe some good deals.

But as Warren Buffet says “if you dont know jewelry, know your jeweler”. I boughta gold and sapphire ring in Bangkok from the most reputable shop. Prong broke in short time, hard to return. I know the SXM shops are very good.

I used to see great deals on Seiko watches in St Thomas. Havent seen a great deal in awhile personally. And im not gonna pluck down X amount on the Omega I want only tonfind out something is amiss when back on the boat.

SXM is great and Cruises are great. The only downside about being a cruiser is you have to dress funny for hiking and swimming and shopping and maybe carry a backpack and cruise towel and you might be pretty white if on day 2 or 3 of cruise.

I never would have flown to SXM if it wasnt for a shore excursion that took us to Boo Boo Jam for a little beach time and lunch and a drink.

PS if the cruise line told me a port was unsafe and to stay onboard id want a partial refund. I find that hard to believe. I could see some goofy passengers spreading stuff but not the cruise lines. The shops, casinos are closed in port so cruise line wouldnt benefit.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189255
03/31/2019 05:39 PM
03/31/2019 05:39 PM
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jonmar Offline
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Totally depends I think on the type of person on the cruise ship. If it’s someone that bought a $799 holiday and has the mentality of ‘why would I go there when I can drink and eat for free here?’ just forget it. You either know the value of an experience or you don’t. It’s not being cheap really. It’s sort of a bit clueless??? I know cheap people that would spend money if they are convinced of value but I know people that aren’t cheap that would pull that ‘why would I when...?’ crap. I’d never take holiday with them.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: jonmar] #189257
03/31/2019 06:02 PM
03/31/2019 06:02 PM
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Almost no ships have free alcohol or soda. Ice tea, coffe, lemonade.

A beer is 6 bucks onboard. Way cheaper ashore.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189260
03/31/2019 06:32 PM
03/31/2019 06:32 PM
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SammyM Offline
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I'm very surprised by some of the comments being posted here. Without the return of the cruise ships I very much doubt St. Maarten would ever bounce back. Yes, some passengers will stay on the ship during a port-of-call. That's their choice. But, the vast majority of people will exit the ship and explore their new destination. Many will take shore excursions that pump money into the local economy. And, when they get to their destinations they will spend money on drinks, food, chair rentals, watersports, and some on shopping. Not everyone will, but many people do. Without this in-flow of new visitors all that revenue would be lost.

If one out of every ten cruise ship visitors discovers this is 'the place' for them they will return and on a future cruise, or better yet come to St. Maarten and stay for a week or longer. How else would they ever discover SXM?

My wife and I have been on many cruises and not once have I heard personnel on a ship discourage people form going ashore. That would be crazy, because both the cruise line and the destination profit from visitors who come ashore and sign-up for shore excursions. For anyone who has never been on a cruise, each evening you receive an itinerary about activities on the ship for the following day, as well as the different things to see and do at tomorrow's destination. For St. Maarten multiple destinations are explained in such brochures including Orient Beach, the boardwalk in Philipsburg, Maho Beach, and even Loterie Farm. It's then up to the passengers to decide where they want to go the next day. I cannot even begin to count the number of cruise ship passengers that I have met over the years on the boardwalk or on the various beaches of St. Maarten who ask me questions about the island, and I always finish my conversations with them by encouraging them to "now take a week's vacation on SXM so they can truly live the experience."

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: SammyM] #189266
03/31/2019 06:43 PM
03/31/2019 06:43 PM
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The only cruise passengrrs ive ever heard who missed out on the full SXM exposure were those lured in to the Westin for a timeshare dog and pony. Happened to several. Boy that is an injustice unless they give you free beach chairs and booze for a day.

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: RickandJulie] #189283
03/31/2019 08:39 PM
03/31/2019 08:39 PM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 153
Washington State
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Originally Posted by RickandJulie
BTW, if you have not tried Caribbean Blend on the boardwalk you are missing a real treat. I had the grilled flounder and Julie had the Mahi Mahi. Both were exceptional and others around us were also raving about the food. Must try it.


We tried Caribbean Blend for the first time in January. I agree, excellent food and great local folks. The jerk chicken is outstanding!

Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: SammyM] #189288
03/31/2019 10:25 PM
03/31/2019 10:25 PM
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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
islandgem Offline
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I totally agree with you Sammy. Perhaps they are not spending money shopping on Front Street, but they definitely are spending money on the tours organized from the ship. The reason for choosing ship excursions is they don't have to be concerned about carrying a lot of money when going to shore as these excursions are all charged to their account . Also if for any reason, they are late getting back to port, the ship always waits for everyone on the excursions arranged by the ship. The local tour operators are doing very well with these tours. When on the tours, the passengers spend money for lunch and drinks at many different locations. I know they spend money for chairs on Orient Beach and perhaps other beaches as well.It seems the only problem that currently exists is the lack of sales in the stores . It has become easier to purchase your souvenirs, clothing etc... on the ship as you do not need any money when shopping as all purchases are charged to your account and you pay upon departure from the ship. I have been on boat excursions, when there have been cruise ship passengers enjoying a cruise around the island and all say they will be back to spend more time there.

Many of these cruise ship passengers have made many return trips to the island and some have even purchased property there. St. Maarten/St. Martin can complain about the lack of business from these people, but the island would be in a much worse situation without ships coming in to port. They need any type of tourist trade they can get as the people need these jobs to survive!



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Re: Thoughts on the island So Far [Re: islandgem] #189299
04/01/2019 06:10 AM
04/01/2019 06:10 AM
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Posts: 14,123
Ohio
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Correct Elizabeth and well stated. Many days Kim Sha Beach had loungers set up for 200 or so people as they were bussed in from the cruise ships. BBB benefitted from this, Greenhouse benefitted and had an arrangement with some of the ships and I am sure the small shacks in the parking lot benefitted. I did hear some of the servers from Greenhouse were not happy with some of the tipping of the visitors, especially those who were on a meal plan along with the lounge chair.

The initial cost to get on a cruise may not be all that much but anything not "included" or if not on an "alcohol package" and any upscale dining is not cheap. They are spending $$ but just not in town like they used to.


J.D.

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