Continued from part 4.
Our third port of call was St. Maarten. This was our third attempt to visit St. Maarten while on a cruise, but the first time that we actually made it here. The other two cruises were diverted elsewhere due to hurricanes. A more complete description of what to do and see in St. Maarten is found in this previous article.
To get an overview of the island, we took one of the tours offered by the cruise line. First, we drove through part of the countryside and down to one of the beach areas. From there, we boarded a glass bottom boat that took us out to one of the reefs. Unfortunately, the water was somewhat churned up, which made it hard to see. It was not as good as some of the reefs that we have snorkeled on in other locations.
After the glass bottom boat, we continued to circle the island and we stopped at a shopping area on the French side. This allowed us to pick up some souvenirs to take home, but not much more. After this, the tour continued around the island stopping at some very beautiful scenic overlooks. We eventually ended up in the main shopping area near the port.
St. Maarten is probably second only to St. Thomas in the amount of stores and the quality of the shopping. As usual, we visited many of the jewelry stores, mostly looking for unique Pandora style beads. The Belgian Chocolate Box was definitely a highlight of this shopping trip though. The chocolate was just as good as what I remember getting when I visited Belgium in the 1990's.
After shopping, we stopped at a local restaurant that had free Wi-Fi to have a snack and check our email. Then it was back to the ship. Shortly after sailing the Captain announced that Hurricane Sandy had formed in the Caribbean and we would be making sure to stay out of its way. So, while we made it to St. Maarten this time, we would still be affected by a hurricane. More on this in part six.