Review: Celebrity's St. Maarten Island Tour

by Female Abroad

When I was looking at our cruise the main thing that I did not want to do was to book excursions through the cruise line as no they are more expensive than going direct. However since we had an onboard credit that we weren't going to use for anything else there was no reason for us not to use it for this reason as it would save us money from paying out of pocket for the cheaper excursions.

Well. There is not much good that I can say about this tour besides the fact that it was a reasonable price at $25. The age old saying of "you get what you pay for" is all too true in this situation.

In the morning we headed to the theater to get our numbered sticker but didn't need to wait to be called so we headed straight out to the gangway and joined the massive line with our number. This was not looking good. After waiting fifteen minutes in the sun we were then led to the parking lot. Here we were boarded onto coach buses that fit 60 people and ours didn't have working air conditioning which made this even more of a foreboding experience.

Off we went to the boarder which we got to watch as we drove by then we pulled over to the side of the road where we stayed in the bus to take photos of the view. One problem, there are people on both sides of the bus so you couldn't get a clear view or photo unless you were sitting on that side of the bus. Due to the heat, no one was willing to move if someone asked nicely to take a photo. Your side was your side. Great....

We continued on to Marigot where we thought we would have time to explore the city. Thirty minutes is all we got and the bus was parked where a bunch of tourist stalls were set up to try to hawk various bags and tee-shirts. There really wasn't much here. We went to the mall (about 6 shops and a couple restaurants) so we could cool down before walking up the main drag (a couple restaurants and nothing else) and then over to the bathroom which was not the best quality but still better than Cuba. Then we were back on the bus. As the bus drove to get to the highway, it turned up a street that was just a couple blocks over from the bathroom and not only was it a lot better looking there was a bunch of cute little shops (tea shop, French grocery, etc) that I would have wished we had found. Another reason to explore on your own!

Once on the bus we continued along before stopping at the ruins of an old Plantation for the one side of the bus to take photos. A couple of people snapped at each other about standing up and blocking the other person from taking a photo. This tour was starting to become very trying on everyone's nerves. With some photo's taken it was across the boarder bridge and back to the Dutch side.

It was shortly after this that they pulled into the parking lot of an ice cream parlor that also had a carrousel. This would be great for kids but we were the youngest on this tour with the next being about mid-forties and everyone else in their golden years. There were no side walks and nothing else going on in this town. You couldn't even get down to the water as the entire lake side was nothing but houses with docks. Happy that it was an ice cream parlor after traveling without AC in 35 degree weather with a bunch of angry people, we all off loaded quickly and hurried inside. Only to find out that there was no AC. How can you have an ice cream parlor with no AC? We then popped over to the carrousel where we found a fan. Us and the people in their 40's jumped on the carrousel so at least there was some wind movement that cooled us down.

With the 2 minute ride over and still fifteen minutes to go we popped into the parking lot for a look around when we spotted a porn shop and a Domino's. Both of those should have AC we thought so we headed on over to the parking lot next door while trying not to get hit walking on the edge of the road way. The smell of the pizza was too much so we ordered a small and spent the next fifteen minutes absorbing all the cold air we could. Just as the pizza was up, so was the time we were given so we hurried back. Just in time to watch all the dough pull up to Domino's in the back of an open cab pickup truck without any coverage on them. Thank god the road isn't dusty but it's too late now, pizza is in hand!

Not sure if we could bring food on the bus we tried to sneak it. I think that the heat was frying our brains as there was no way we were doing a very good job at hiding the box plus you could smell it as soon as we got on. Back on the bus, there was a couple in our seat and with how nice everyone has been (sarcasm) and how annoyed / frustrated with this whole trip we asked them to move. They were very hesitant as our view was better (their window had a sliver of a curtain blocking a bit) but once I pointed out that our bags and water bottles were in / under the seats in front of them they moved. As soon as we were in our seats, the pizza box was open. It. Smelt. So. Good.

The couple behind us and beside us told us that it smelt amazing too before leaning over for a deep sniff. We got a small which was 2 pieces for me and 2 pieces for hubby so we told them how it was. The couple beside us huffed and moved back into their seats, looking like a couple of chastised children. We could not wait for this trip to be over!

After a bit of a drive (enough to eat the pizza) we pulled off to the side of the road and were allowed to exit to see the "International View Point". We weren't allowed to climb up to it as a long of people fall while coming back down but we were allowed to take photos from the side of the road for five minutes before getting back on the bus and heading to Phillipsburg.

While passing the downtown area we were given the option of jumping off and finding our own way back to the ship or continuing on the bus to the ship. Two other couples joined us as we jumped off in downtown as I wanted to get some Guavaberry liqueur and we wanted to check out That Yoda Guys Museum.

Turns out that both places are across the street from each other. Also, the Guavaberry is not a mixture of Guava and a berry it is an actual fruit which is not as sweet as I thought it would be. It's worth popping in though as they give free samples of both the liqueur and rum they make. I ended up grabbing a mixed pack to take home and have slowly been enjoying the different flavors (Lime Guavaberry rum and coconut juice is quite refreshing).

Then we popped up (you have to take stairs to get the museum) to the Yoda Guy Museum to find out that it's $10/person to walk down the hallway or you can check out the gift shop and watch the Yoda Guy (he helped build Yoda for the original Star Wars) fiddle around with different figurines while he stats "Questions are free, Answers cost". This whole place felt like a rip off so we left. "He's just taking advantage of the fan boys" hubby started while leaving "I love Star Wars but I'm not going to be scammed for it".

We then finished walking down the main street before looping around on the beach to head back towards the ship. 35C heat with no shade is a killer so we ended up popping into a Duty free shop on the beach to "cool down" where I ended up buying more alcohol as they sold these hand painted micky bottles with different fruit floating in the alcohol inside. They were cute and definitely a local souvenir. Then it was time to suck it up and march back to the ship.

Would I recommend this? NO

Was it worth it? NO - we had more fun exploring Phillipsburg than we did on the full day tour My recommendation: rent a car and do it yourself as the roads are very well looked after

Side Note: this tour was marked as "MODERATE" besides the stairs getting onto the bus and the lack of AC, there is nothing about this tour that I would flag as being moderate or hard to walk. You get no exercise and there is barely any walking.