Traveltalkonline.com Forums


SXM Cruise Schedule TTOL Sponsors SXM Travel Calendar
Forum Statistics
Forums39
Topics33,175
Posts259,376
Members25,740
Most Online2,218
Jan 21st, 2020
Top Posters(30 Days)
bdeeley 85
kim 43
ecm56 33
Member Spotlight
karenv_ma
karenv_ma
Massachusetts
Posts: 24
Joined: March 2003
Show All Member Profiles 
Today's Birthdays
CaptianCluck, DolfinFan
Who's Online Now
33 registered members (bailau, ecm56, Zanshin, RickandJulie, Biturbo, OllieEh, GeorgeC1, bdeeley, xrayman67, SXMScubaman, caeguy, pony600, KirkB, sugarae, CanuckTravlr, CLIFFTOPS, Fletch, PML, sleepychef, Mikel, Billtjw, Jeannius, Tonythepilot, dvesc, 9 invisible), 176 guests, and 80 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Rate Thread
2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen #249326
03/07/2021 06:45 AM
03/07/2021 06:45 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,315
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline OP
Traveler
ruralcarrier  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,315
Ohio
Let me preface this report with what motivated me to prepare it. I have made posts in the past about travel issues, SXM government travel related issues and my experience and opinions on trying to get to SXM under the current conditions. It has been speculated by some that people might be afraid to travel, were unwilling to make sacrifices or changes to travel plans to get there. It has even been mentioned that there might be some paranoia out there and all this was keeping people from traveling to SXM and supporting the local economy.

I am happy for those who have been able to travel to the island and enjoy their time there. It is not easy for all of us to get there and the Covid situation has made it even more difficult for some. I will share my personal experience with two planned trips that never happened.

A little background. Our first trip to SXM was on a Carnival cruise in Sept. 1991. Our first time staying on the island was either 1993 or 1994. Since then, we have returned on multiple cruises and 60+ stayover trips. We met our long-time taxi driver friend, Junior Bruney in 1991 and have been friends since. We have a close connection to his family in many ways. We have attended funerals on the island, been to the hospital for the birth of a godchild, attended a christening, attended local beach parties and house parties over the years. We have enjoyed and cherished a very close and local connection to the island.

A little more background. I was on the island in March 2020 when Covid hit and had to scramble to get home. I had a cancelled flight, problems rebooking (due to everyone else wanting to do the same at the same time) and spent the better part of 2 days online trying to get home and then also looking into what my options were for a long term stay if I did not get off the island. My wife also made multiple trips to the local airport, hoping to get some accurate information or book a flight. She was continually directed to online booking. This was not fun but thanks to some offers from TTOL members and my local friend, I was covered if I did not make it out quickly.

REPORT #1. The first non-trip trip report will be about a 9-day trip my wife and I had scheduled for Nov. 2020, staying at The Horny Toad. My wife had not been to the island in 8 years prior to 2019 as we started a lot of dog related travel that took most of her vacation and she still works full time. We did manage an 11-day trip in Nov. 2019 and we were looking forward to returning in Nov. 2020. We have 2 dogs and a cat so any overnight travel requires either boarding of the animals or in-home care arranged.
All arrangements were made, rental car, air at a very good price and Horny Toad was booked. The booking was done in May and we felt comfortable we would be able to make the trip. Delta dropped the fare; we got a nice credit and were looking at air for around $400 each. Sometime in the early fall of 2020 Delta suspended all service to SXM so that trip was cancelled. I looked into AA as an option to still make the trip but their schedule would have required us shortening the trip to 7 days and overnighting on one end of the trip and at a cost of around $200 more per person. It also would have required changing our preferred dates and that created a conflict with my wife’s job.

I did all I could to try and get us to SXM and help the local economy but it was not going to be.

REPORT #2. The second non-trip trip report was to have been a 12-day trip from March 7 to 19, 2021 with a group of 6 friends staying at Atrium. I booked air for this trip back in April 2020 so there was no hesitation or paranoia on my part about returning to SXM, even with what I experienced last year I was more than willing to return.
After a couple of schedule changes with air and the eventual cancellation of my return flight (Delta) I then had to consider other options as I had booked AA going to SXM and Delta coming home. In the meantime, the SXM government was continually flip-flopping and changing at will their entry requirements, particularly when it came to the required Covid testing time frame for entry to SXM. Our group tolerated a couple of changes and we were still willing to make the trip, enjoy ourselves and support the local SXM economy. One thing I constantly found troubling was the way the SXM government would make any announcement of their travel requirements. Instead of posting them on an official government website, they would announce the changes on a Facebook page or via a radio show. I found this very unprofessional and there was often conflicting information, even ON the official government travel site when it eventually made it there.

Now we have the mandatory travel insurance, mandatory covid test both ways and an added cost of between $230-$300 to make the trip. Covid testing for travel purposes is NOT easy to find in my area and when I did find it, the cost was about $130. I was still willing to make the trip. No paranoia and much willingness to continue to make sacrifices to make this trip happen and help the local SXM economy.

The last straw was a few weeks ago when there was mass confusion regarding the testing window for entry to SXM. Was it 72 hours? Was it 120 hours? Both were announced, conflicting information was found on the SXM sites, was it changed? Was it not changed? It seemed to be very unclear at that point and my personal confidence in the inept way the SXM government was handling this had dwindled to about zero.

I spoke with the couple who had the Atrium rental. They were concerned and confused as well as hesitant with making the trip we had been planning since having to cut last year’s trip short. It was collectively decided to postpone the trip for this year and hope for a better situation in 2022.

I have since endured what would have been another schedule change to my air and required either a very tight connection coming home or changing my flight to another day, all at a higher cost. At this point, I stand to lose around $300 in cancelled air unless I am able to use it before the end of this year.

It is not for any lack of willingness to make sacrifices, spend more $$, being flexible or fear of travel. I think I have been up to the task with all of that. It is easy for some to armchair quarterback decisions others make but unless they have all the facts, they are not in a position to make a judgement call for someone else.

I said it before and I will say it again, the way the SXM government has handled some aspects of the return process has been very unfriendly and caused many people to rethink their travel plans or flat out cancel as I have chosen to do twice. There are only so many changes one can deal with and so many hoops they are willing to jump through before they throw in the towel. Depending upon your location, the airlines have not been a real help to some either

Thank you for hearing me out on this somewhat sensitive subject.



J.D.
SXM Sponsors
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249332
03/07/2021 07:30 AM
03/07/2021 07:30 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 690
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Leagle49 Offline
Traveler
Leagle49  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 690
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
JD, I fully agree that the SXM Government has handled the situation abysmally. The frequent changes and the conflicting government website discourage tourism. Nevertheless, we did persevere for several reasons. Yes it cost us more ($15 each for tests and a couple of hundred for medical travel and evacuation insurance), there was quite a bit of angst waiting for test results and approvals, but everything went much better and quicker then expected, and so far the experience has been quite different but on the whole we are very glad we came and are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. More detail in our next Trip Report.

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249335
03/07/2021 08:01 AM
03/07/2021 08:01 AM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,777
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
Traveler
RonDon  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,777
Rhode Island
I feel your pain. We too had to cancel several trips, European cruise. SXM, twice, and even trips within our own country.
.
Made this trip to SXM saying Hell or high water because we felt it might be the last time we see the island we love. Too many health issues recently.

I’m greatful that we are here but now find little enjoyment this last week due to anxiety trying to find easy testing so we can go home.

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249337
03/07/2021 08:27 AM
03/07/2021 08:27 AM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 336
Beverly MA (Boston's North Sho...
timnboston Offline
Traveler
timnboston  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 336
Beverly MA (Boston's North Sho...
Quite agree that the government of SXM has done a poor job. But the state of MA (and I suspect many other states) has also made a hash of things - and we're supposed to be a hub of IT and medical technology. The entire world is struggling to contain a pandemic of a new disease that's never been seen before and no one knows how to treat. We just have to muddle through this somehow and hope for better times. For the record, I made my annual trip in January and the confusion around testing, the paperwork, the airlines was all a nightmare of anxiety and confusion - but worth it for weeks in Paradise.

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249339
03/07/2021 09:00 AM
03/07/2021 09:00 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 159
southeast tennessee
C
CLIFFTOPS Online content
Traveler
CLIFFTOPS  Online Content
Traveler
C
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 159
southeast tennessee
Yes traveling in these days and times requires a lot of flexibility , patience and the ability to adjust to the inconveniences you may encounter.
Those who have pushed forward knowing this have reaped the rewards as has been posted in the trip reports on this forum.
Those who have not must surely be frustrated knowing they have missed their island experience.
We hope for a better day for all soon.

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249343
03/07/2021 09:20 AM
03/07/2021 09:20 AM
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 80
Maine
G
garymoe Offline
Traveler
garymoe  Offline
Traveler
G
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 80
Maine
I agree completely with your entire report. We love Sxm and have traveled there for the past 16 yrs. Living in Maine a winter break is needed! We were on island last March. And like many others spent days trying to get a flight home. Not an easy task. In our case, I hold JetBlue at fault for a lot of our angst.

We had thought that if we could get vaccinated in time there might be a chance we could return this year. Well, we did get our vaccines. But, like you, I agree. Too many hoops. Living in New England, weather changes on a dime. If our flights got cancelled due to weather ( or any other reason the airlines concoct) our negative tests would expire and trip would be off. Or once we got on island, who knows if the government would change requirements and we would be forced to evacuate yet again.

So this winter I enjoy Sxm via webcams. Hopefully, next year we will be able to return.

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249347
03/07/2021 10:25 AM
03/07/2021 10:25 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,300
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,300
Central Florida!
I knew today was the day that you were supposed to have left for SXM. I agree that SXM has handled the whole situation badly, because they have flip-flopped on many things, with little or no warning, leaving people in many instances like you, forced to cancel with little other choice. Hopefully you are able to get a trip in sometime this summer or fall.

Hopefully things are getting better, as many more people get vaccinated. We are scheduled for June and have our non stop air booked from Miami. Thank goodness we are here now and don't have to worry about a connection. I have not started looking for a testing site yet. We are due to get our second shot this coming Friday. That is kind of my liberation day, in my mind, to where I can start planning the way forward.


Carol Hill
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: RonDon] #249349
03/07/2021 10:26 AM
03/07/2021 10:26 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,300
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,300
Central Florida!
Rosemary--It is apparently very easy to get a test there by Simpson Bay Resort, regardless of where you are staying. Just pay the fee for it and don't worry about it.


Carol Hill
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249350
03/07/2021 10:26 AM
03/07/2021 10:26 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,504
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
Traveler
pat  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,504
Brookfield, CT.
Ruralcarrier,

What a great post and your points are all well taken.

No paranoia here and no lack of flexibility either as we were right there with you jumping through all those hoops and dealing with all the confusion that came our way. We had the changed and cancelled flights although not to the degree you did but we are geographically situated where we have four major carriers to choose from and five airports as well which gives us a degree of flexibility most don’t have along with generally, although not always, better pricing, too.

When all was said and done we were able to finally make our trip happen but were it not for the perseverance of my daughter, I would have given up, too. Did all the testing but trying to utilize the SXM website was a four day three ring circus for me and after submitting the same test results three times each one being denied, and making two calls to the SXM government the fourth submission was the charm. And we would never have been able to get clearance if we had to contend with the three day approvals. Thanks again, Kim, because without your assistance those tears of frustration I shed would have ended our trip plans completely.

And yes, in the end, being in SXM was lovely but it was most definitely NOT our usual island trip. We wore our masks everywhere except the beach and pool, we submitted our temps daily and dined out less and in mostly open air venues and we shopped not at all. But we were the lucky ones in that we were there.

We have friends currently on island who are dealing with all those issues now in trying to get home and comply with the same restrictions and they are experiencing many of the same frustrations - no paranoia and they made all the sacrifices to be there but now they’re feelings those same frustrations trying to get home.

Thank you for taking the time to write your non-trip reports. I get what you’re saying and I appreciate what you’ve written and the time it took you to say what needed to be said.




Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: Carol_Hill] #249353
03/07/2021 10:31 AM
03/07/2021 10:31 AM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,301
Newtown, CT
kim Offline
Traveler
kim  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 4,301
Newtown, CT
Carol - I PM’d her. Link and posted. But here it is again, you make your appointment online. We did it ahead of time. Super easy.

https://medcare.aw/en/covid-test-sxm/

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: kim] #249354
03/07/2021 10:32 AM
03/07/2021 10:32 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,300
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,300
Central Florida!
Kim--thanks for helping.


Carol Hill
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: kim] #249355
03/07/2021 10:36 AM
03/07/2021 10:36 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,504
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
Traveler
pat  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,504
Brookfield, CT.
Kim,

Kimby to the rescue, again! Thank you for jumping in and helping them out.


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249404
03/08/2021 09:56 AM
03/08/2021 09:56 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,822
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
GaKaye Offline
Traveler
GaKaye  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,822
Peaceful Eastern North Carolin...
JD, your points are all well-taken. We were fortunate to be able to make our usual November/December trip this past year, and 2/3 of our group is returning in April David and I chose not to join them mainly because of all of the changing requirements. I'm hopeful that the vaccine makes travel pleasant again, as I miss it!

Thank you for saying what many of us have been thinking for quite a while now.


[Linked Image]
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249415
03/08/2021 11:53 AM
03/08/2021 11:53 AM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 636
Maine
SXMbeacher Offline
Traveler
SXMbeacher  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 636
Maine
I agree, Ruralcarrier. Due to the uncertainty and inconsistencies, if we made our usual April trip it was going to be an 11 hour decision. We pulled the plug on that deal a while ago, and as it turns out our usual AA return flight we would have booked is no longer available. That would have caused even more angst. Fall, or maybe 2022 now.


[Linked Image]
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: SXMbeacher] #249420
03/08/2021 12:09 PM
03/08/2021 12:09 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,504
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
Traveler
pat  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,504
Brookfield, CT.
SXMBeacher,

So far we are still an April ‘21 go but we’ve already had our JB flights cancelled. Thankfully, we were able to rebook on AA and we’re praying for no more cancellations or other obstacles.

With all the flight issues, testing requirements and changes to them plus the added associated expenses of the testing and the mandatory insurance, it sure isn’t the simple vacation we’re used to. But we still had a good time if different from the norm and barring anymore changes, we are seriously looking forward to April in Sint Maarten.


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: pat] #249422
03/08/2021 12:30 PM
03/08/2021 12:30 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 636
Maine
SXMbeacher Offline
Traveler
SXMbeacher  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 636
Maine
Pat, I'm more inclined to jump through the hoops than my wife, as she is a planner and needs to pretty much know for certain what's happening and when.

I Hope all the changes have settled down now and you don't have anymore surprises. I'm sure you will have a great time once you get there!


[Linked Image]
Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249448
03/08/2021 03:58 PM
03/08/2021 03:58 PM
Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 933
S
SammyM Offline
Traveler
SammyM  Offline
Traveler
S
Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 933
Thanks for sharing this with the community, J.D. These are confusing times, but hopefully with vaccinations on the rise many countries around the world (including St. Maarten) will begin to simplify things and by late summer international travel will be much easier and more reliable for all of us. My hope is that 'international COVID Vaccination passports' will evolve and eliminate the need for COVID testing and quarantines. After all, isn't this what a highly effective vaccine is suppose to do? Eventually, every country that uses tourism as a staple of their economy will come around and I believe things will get better. The countries that come around first will likely benefit from increased tourism faster than those that continue to impose or hesitate to lift existing restrictions. My wife and I love SXM more than any other destination domestically or internationally, but we will wait until the situation improves to the point where hassle-free travel to St. Maarten returns. Presently planning for a return to SXM this November, but we'll monitor this carefully and if traveling to an alternate destination is easier, then so be it.

On a brighter note, at least we were there together on St. Maarten back in March, 2020 at Mullet Bay Beach and got a chance to meet each other! I still have a lot of great memories from that trip (mostly ones involving food & drink)!

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249454
03/08/2021 04:43 PM
03/08/2021 04:43 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 243
B
BlueGreenWater Offline
Traveler
BlueGreenWater  Offline
Traveler
B
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 243
JD, thank you for posting. It in many ways mirrors the same issues we have faced, starting with trying to get a flight home from SXM last March. We also ended up not going this year, and we definitely miss it. But it doesn't ease the frustration, and particularly with the SXM government.

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249458
03/08/2021 05:02 PM
03/08/2021 05:02 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 7,183
S
sxmmartini Offline
Traveler
sxmmartini  Offline
Traveler
S
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 7,183
Sorry it did not workout but I have not been to SXM since January of 2020 as well.
Very emotional to have a place you have trouble getting to.

Re: 2 Trip Reports for Trips That Did Not Happen [Re: ruralcarrier] #249488
03/09/2021 07:29 AM
03/09/2021 07:29 AM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,777
Rhode Island
RonDon Offline
Traveler
RonDon  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,777
Rhode Island
If not for the help of all the people on this site and help from a local computer repair store in our town we probably wouldn’t be here now. Because of all the hoops were enjoying this visit more than those before.


Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.1