St Maarten Cruise Terminal
St Maarten port is one of the fastest-growing Caribbean cruise ports and the leading cruise port in the Eastern Caribbean. The St Maarten cruise terminal is located in Philipsburg, the Dutch part of the island, around 1.5 mi away from the city center. It boasts an impressive infrastructure that can accommodate a large number of cruise ships simultaneously, including the worlds largest cruise ships.
Upon getting off the ship, a hundred meters further, youll spot Harbour Point Village a lively area full of duty-free shops, jewelry stores, market stalls, bars, and a restaurant.
Tour buses and taxi rank are located nearby to get there, you need to turn right and keep walking to the exit of the terminal area until you reach a small building housing a tourist information desk. The walk is 100-200 meters long , and in case you have difficulty in walking, there is a small trolley that can take you there for free.
Before I share with you the best things to do in Philipsburg, I invite you to subscribe below and get my exclusive, insider SHORE EXCURSION GUIDE FOR FREE!
St Maarten Cruise Port Fast Facts:
Large dock and cruise terminal available: 1 mile from Philipsburg Tender dock available right in town. Shopping: at the cruise terminal or in townTransportation: Taxis at the cruise terminal Watertaxi available to get you from the cruise terminal to town Beach: Great Bay Beach is the main beach in town. 1 mile from the cruise terminal.
For more information about the latest travel restrictions or port updates, please check:
Also find all detailed information about cruise port St. Maarten and what to see and do underneath.
Boat Trips To Anguilla
However, if you fancy more private and secluded beaches, you can charter a boat to the nearby island of Anguilla. Anguilla is endowed with virgin beaches that feature pristine white sandy stretches.
Its the best place to enjoy a perfect beach day. A boat transfer only takes 30 minutes to get to the island. You can book an excursion to Anguilla via your ship or local tour operators.
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Dining In Philipsburg St Maarten
There are many options to choose from in St. Maarten, from casual Caribbean fare to upscale restaurants serving lobster thermidor a local specialty.
Chesterfields located closest to the pier, on the way to Philipsburg has a great view and pub fare
Lazy Lizard Beach Bar & Grill rated as the #1 restaurant in St. Maarten, this casual stop offers burgers, sandwiches, seafood and Johnny Cakes
Dirty Sanchez Crew Bar rated as the #1 bar in St. Maarten, offering fantastic cocktails in a fun atmosphere
Ital Shack super laid back, offers local, organic, vegan fare and fresh juices for a reasonable price
Burger Madness Amazing burgers with all the toppings you could imagine, located right on the beach
Sint Maarten Travel Restrictions
As part of the islands COVID-19 response, all travelers to the island by air must complete a mandatory electronic health authorization application or they will not be able to board their flight. The processing time for the application takes about 12 hours to process, so make sure you do it a day or two before your flight to ensure its approved in time. The application includes the mandatory purchase of COVID-19 travel insurance and travelers must provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.
Sint Maarten has several COVID-19 testing centers on the island and many of the hotels and resorts have sample collection services for getting tested upon your return home. Since travel rules and restrictions can change, make sure you double check whats required before you head to the airport! For more information about COVID-19 protocols, please visit www.stmaartenupdates.com.
When cruise ships return to the docks of Philipsburg this summer, Sint Maarten is going to be ready. The island has long been a top destination for cruisers and it looks like thats going to continue into the future!
This post was sponsored by the island of Sint Maarten
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How St Maarten Recovered From Irma
On Monday, December 4, 2017, Viking Sea was the first cruise ship to call at the island of St Maarten since the passing of hurricane Irma earlier in September that same year. This was a key date for the cruise tourism.
Even more encouraging news arrived a couple of weeks later when five cruise ships visited St Martin on Christmas and Boxing Day – Marella and Independence of the Seas , Grandeur of the Seas, Azamara Quest and Jewel of the Seas .
The new year started with the return of Disney Cruises, Marella Celebration and Royal Caribbean’s massive Harmony of the Seas on January 2. The Koningsdam – Holland America Line – docked on January 6, and the luxurious Silver Wind called for an overnight on January 11.
Harmony of The Seas
For a cruise port that used to have as many as 6 cruise ships docked on weekdays before hurricane Irma, it may sound like a slow recovery. But whilst the Silver Wind was still in port, another 3 ships docked in St Maarten – Regal Princess, Eurodam and Anthem of the Seas. This was the first four ship day for St. Maarten’s 2018 season. Many more are coming and cruise life is getting back to normal.
Now, any day can be a ’12K kind of day’. Just watch the video below filmed on January 11, 2017.
What Are The Best Hotels Near Sint
Sonesta Ocean Point Resort is an adults-only, 5 star luxury all-inclusive resort which features direct access to spectacular Maho Beach. Guests looking for an ultimate vacation experience, the Roof Top and Sunset suites with butler service are the resorts best accommodations. Some other suites feature a swim-out pool, while the signature Azul restaurant boasts the most breathtaking views. Families with kids are welcome at Sonestas sister hotel, the Maho Beach Resort & Casino, located on the same property.
Distance to Cruise Port: 8.7 miles Distance from Airport: 2 minutes
Holland House Beach Hotel is one of the nearest hotels from the St Maarten cruise port, located right on Great Bay Beach promenade in downtown Philipsburg. This boutique-style property offers stylish rooms with either city of views across the Caribbean sea to the cruise terminal. Amenities include a restaurant with outdoor seating and beach lounges with umbrellas. Theres plenty of shopping just nearby.
Distance to Cruise Port: 0.9 mile Distance from Airport: 23 minutes
Distance to Cruise Port: 5.8 miles Distance from Airport: 8 minutes
Distance to Cruise Port: 2.5 miles Distance from Airport: 18 minutes
Distance to Cruise Port: 10.8 miles Distance from Airport: 10 minutes
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Just Make It A Beach Day
Both the Dutch side and French side of the island have so much to offer in the way of beaches. In total there are thirteen beaches to visit during your cruise stay. Ive already listed a few: Maho, Mullet, Cupecoy, Orient, Happy Bay, Grand-Case, and Pinel Island.
Theres two more on the Dutch side you should visit, if you have the time, and at least 5 more on the French side.
On the Dutch side you have Great Bay Beach and Little Bay Beach, located right next to each other on either side of the Fort Amsterdam Peninsula.
Water Taxi To Downtown
For $7, you can get an all day pass for the water taxi that leaves right near where the cruise ships dock. The water taxis depart and arrive every 5-10 minutes and will take you over to a great family beach and the downtown area for shopping.
Kids 3 and under are free and it is cheaper than taking a cab if you wish to go downtown for shopping.
When you disembark from your ship, start walking towards the shops and look for the large Water Taxi sign on the left. You cant miss it.
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Visit The Chill And Fun Loterie Farm
Visit the Loterie Farm found on one side of Pic Paradis. It is a beautiful resort dotted with beautiful wooden cabanas hidden among the trees. It features a large pool, restaurants and large picnic-play grounds. This is where you want to take a large group of friends or family for a fun hangout.
There is fun for all ages offered by the zip line courses, hikes and boat trips offered here. Its also a very beautiful place to have a wedding at. The zip line course at this farm dubbed the extreme fly zone shouldnt be missed. It runs from top of Pic Paradis to the farm below.
Explore The St Maarten Islands
With its European influences , St. Maarten is just begging to be explored from the land or sea via cruise ship. Our St. Maarten cruise excursions and island tours allow you to experience all the wonder of the Dutch part of the twin island, complete with water sports, hiking and biking, marine life, and quaint history in the capital of Philipsburg.
Our St. Maarten tours and excursions do not stop there, as many of our shore tours include traveling to the French-controlled portion of the island to experience both paradise destinations by visiting two countries in one day. This opportunity alone makes any St. Maarten shore excursion and trip incredibly fulfilling.
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Culture & History Of The Philipsburg Cruise Port
In the 17th century, both the Dutch and the French colonized St. Maarten. The Dutch later built Fort Amsterdam as a military outpost in Philipsburg for protection from intruders. Over time, the Dutch and French found ways to maintain their island colonies, respecting each others cultures and heritage. St. Maarten has steadily grown in popularity as a tourism destination in recent years. After Hurricane Irma in 2017, St. Maarten suffered significant damage that its still working to recover from. Tourism dollars help contribute to the rebuilding and preservation of the beaches and businesses that were affected by the hurricane.
Philipsburg Port Facilities & Location
Its about a half-hour walk to get from the Philipsburg pier to the center of town. The port facilities for cruises to St. Maarten offer helpful amenities like ATMs, shops, a tourist information desk, taxi and rental car information, and restaurants if youre hungry right when you get off the cruise ship.
Getting Around Philipsburg St Maarten
Water Taxi a great way to get to downtown Philipsburg for a low cost. One price will do you for the day and youll get a great view of the harbor.
Taxis you will see passengers lining up at the pier for taxis, by destination and fare type. The government regulates taxi fares by zone and number of passengers . They also have 3 hour sightseeing tours for $90. See here for more information.
Rental Car this can be a great way to see the island, especially if you have more than a group of 3 people. There are a number of car rental locations near the port. Coastal Car Rental is right at the pier.
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St Maarten A Great Cruise Port
Locals will claim that its 37-square-mile island is the smallest in the world shared by two countries. Sorry, that would be a .2-acre island governed by Norway and Sweden. But dont let the facts get in the way of enjoying this enticing cruise destination that goes by the name of Saint-Martin on the northern French side and Sint Maarten on the southern Dutch side. Mere steps from where the cruise ships dock in Philipsburg is the extremely popular St. Maarten 12 Metre Challenge, which gives normal folk the thrill of racing in an actual Americas Cup regatta. What a rush to grind a winch and trim a sail as official crew members of the same Stars & Stripes catamaran that carried Dennis Conner and his crew to victory in the Americas Cup. A scenic half-hour taxi ride from port is Marigot, the main town on the French side. The cutest little streets youll ever want to explore are here, plus white sand beaches that bow to the more liberal European culture. Ooh la la. Topless sunbathing is common on the far side of Orient Beach, and beyond Pedros restaurant, currently being rebuilt, is a nudist colony. For those looking for a different kind of beauty, the Caribbeans finest butterfly farm and a guided local artisan tour are fine ways to spend the day.
Try The Famous Guava Berry Liquor
The Guava berry Emporium is the spot to taste and sample this locally made liquor. The Guava berry Emporium is located on Front Street in Phillipsburg in an old townhouse, you cant miss the big liquor bottle at the entrance. Make sure to take some home with you.
My favorite is the guava berry colada. The centuries-old liquor is a part of St. Maartens culture, there are songs and stories dedicated to the Guava Berry. The liquor is a rare combination of aged rum, sugar cane, and wild guava berries found in the central part of the island.
With so many things to do and see in St. Maarten, you may need to come back and spend a weeks holiday to really enjoy the rest of the island. Heres a list of a few more suggestion in Phillipsburg:
- Yoda Guy Museum
- Sint Maarten Museum
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Snorkel The Depths Below
The waters surrounding St. Maarten make for some great snorkeling adventures. Whether you book a shore excursion with the cruise line, a third party vendor, or a local tour operator, there are numerous locations in the area to spot a variety of marine life. Creole Rock, Tintamarre Island, and Pinel Island are some top choices off the coast of St. Maarten.
Creole Rock is a small island nestled in a protected marine reserve. There is a reef extending off the coast affording shallow, calm water and an abundance of fish.
Tintamarre Island is an uninhabited island which has been recognized as an important bird area. You might also catch a glimpse of sea turtles and stingrays during your snorkeling adventure.
Pinel Island can be reached via a short ferry trip across Cul de Sac as well. Here, you will find the Pinel Island Marine Trail, a designated snorkeling route teeming with marine life. This island also has a beach lined with loungers and umbrellas to relax after your snorkeling trek.
Of course, if youd prefer to snorkel right off the beach in St. Maarten, you can do that too. Cupecoy Beach and Mullet Bay Beach are some popular choices among others.
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St Maarten Port Information
To start with, you will enjoy docking at St. Maarten as tendering is not necessary. Your ship will dock on the Dutch side of the island at Philipsburg, where all large vessels such as cruise ships dock.
Docking at the island is smooth, courtesy of the large pier that accommodates up to 7 ships. Dont be alarmed, however, as you will rarely dock with 6 other ships. And even if it happens, the island has plenty of attractions which helps spread out the masses.
To get around the island you will need a vehicle and luckily transport is readily available at the end of the short pier. There are water taxis, vehicles, trams, buses and even ATVs at the transport stand.
Getting a taxi, rented vehicle or any other means of transportation is easy in St. Maarten. And best of all the taxi charges are standardized by the government. Just walk up to the transport booth at the end of the pier and choose from a number of choices availed to you.
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The 10 Best St Maarten Excursions & Tours
About 300 kilometers east of Puerto Rico in the northeast part of the Caribbean lies St. Maarten, a cruise community favorite destination. A constituency country controlled by the Dutch, St. Maarten occupies the southern half of an island whose northern half, St. Martin, is controlled by the French.
Philipsburg St Maarten Key Facts :
Population: 1894 .
Airport: St Maartens airport is called St Maartens Princess Juliana International Airport. There are no direct flights from the UK to St Maartens, making it a great island to explore when cruising. Indirect flights to St Maartens airport can be sought by going via Paris or Amsterdam.
Currency: The official currency in St Maarten is the Antillean Guilder and the Euro depending on which side you are on. However, due to the number of cruise visitors, US dollars are widely accepted.
Best time to visit: As with most Caribbean islands the best time to visit is between the months of November to March as this is when the weather is the driest. However, of course, this is when there are most cruise liners docking and so more people.
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Sint Maarten Best Beaches
Spending the day on the beach is usually high on the to-do list for travelers and there might not be a better island in the Caribbean to do just that. With more than 30 unique beaches to choose from, the island offers no shortage of places to kick back and relax with your toes in the sand and a cold drink in hand.
The most famous of all the beaches on the island is Maho Bay Beach thanks to its proximity to the airport. Wait, what? Thats right, the end of the runway sits along the edge of the water and landing planes swoop down directly overhead. It makes for a cool picture, but for those looking to relax in solitude, this isnt the beach for you.
Instead, try off the beaten path gems like Happy Bay Beach or nearby Friars Bay Beach. Both can be found on the French side of the island and are a little more laid back than some of the islands other beaches.
If youre hanging out for a day or two before or after your cruise leaves, Great Bay Beach is right next to the Philipsburg cruise port and surrounded by hotels, restaurants, nightlife, casinos and more. There are plenty of beachside chair and umbrella rental services for a relaxing day watching the turquoise waters of the bay lap against the sand. If youre looking for more of an adventure, there are kayak, paddleboard and even jet ski rentals available at several locations in Philipsburg.
Old Street in Philipsburg | Photo: Vacation St. Maarten/Facebook