Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

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Philipsburg, St. Maarten/St. Martin

Philipsburg, St. Maarten/St. Martin

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The Dutch say Sint Maarten, the French say St. Martin, but what’s in a name? Where else can you visit two countries this easily, dine so lavishly, shop so extravagantly, and sunbathe so beautifully? Two nations share this bit of paradise, but if we must take sides, we’ll take the French. Alas, the Disney ships dock on the Dutch side.

Alexander on the beach in St. Maarten

AMBIENCE

With the Atlantic to the east, the Caribbean to the west and a lagoon in between, St. Maarten’s 37 beaches offer everything from roaring surf to gentle ripples, and brisk trade winds keep the island cool. Its 37 square miles (96 sq. km.) include tall, luxuriantly green mountains, two capital cities, hundreds of appetizing restaurants, a dizzying array of shops, and a dozen casinos. Philipsburg, the bustling Dutch capital, hosts up to four cruise ships daily, and offers handy, excellent shopping. Picturesque Marigot, the French capital, offers a lot more charm and sophistication for cruisers willing to go the extra distance.

HISTORY

The history of this island begins with the Arawaks, seafaring Indians who gathered salt on the island. Later, Columbus named and claimed this island as he sailed past on the Feast of St. Martin. After harassing the Spanish for some years (New Amsterdam’s Peter Stuyvesant lost his leg here), the Dutch and French moved in and carved it up in 1647. Relations are friendly now, but the border moved several times during the next 200 years. Sugar cane was the cash crop until slavery was abolished, and sea salt was produced in Philipsburg’s Salt Pond, but this was a very quiet place until tourists came to call. And despite this long history, there’s still a strong difference in culture and architecture between very French St. Martin and commerce-focused Dutch Sint Maarten.

FACTS

Size: 12 mi. long (19 km.) x 8 mi. wide (13 km.)
Climate: Subtropical Temperatures: 80°F (27°C) to 85°F (29°C)
Population: 77,000 Busy Season: Late December to April
Language: English, French, Dutch Money: Euro or Florin (U.S. dollar accepted)
Time Zone: Atlantic (no DST) Transportation: Taxis and cars
Phones: Dial 011- from U.S., dial 22222 for emergencies

Note: This island sustained enormous devastation which cut off electricity and gas, and damaged the port, after Hurricane Irma passed over on September 6, 2017. Disney Cruise Line announced in early December 2017 that they will be returning to St. Marteen beginning with the December 30, 2017 sailing.

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Top Photo Slice: Water Island at St. Maarten (℗ 45715) Photo contributed by © PixieMichele



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