Easy cruisin'

Philipsburg Travel Blog

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We're here!!!
4 hours in the air, 20 minutes of taxiing the runways later, we touched down in St. Maarten.  WOW!  The runway was surrounded on 3 sides by water.  Clearance of about 100 feet on either end of the runway had me gripping the armrest tight enough to turn my knuckles white.  What a thrill!

It seemed to take us forever to get out of the airport and into that hot Caribbean sun.  We were greeted outside by throngs of taxi servicemen.  Not knowing a good price, we took one for $48 ($6 each) to the dock where our easyCruise was. 

::Driving through downtown Philipsburg, I must say I was a little disappointed.  Everything is way too American!  English everywhere, driving on the right side of the road, American cars, people wayy too fluent in English.
Sticking my hand out the taxi van!
  I wished for the stumblings of two people that barely understood each other's language, the mystifying effect I got not a year ago when I saw foreign signs/ads everywhere I turned.  Instead, nothing.  Coca-Cola ads, beer ads, everything reminding me of home.  Not what I had hoped.::

When we arrived at the dock, our taxi driver had a tough time getting us cleared because he became offended that the security personnel were belittling him (he thought).  A mini-tussle sent us off to the side for a few minutes in a steaming hot taxi van, only making us more and more anxious to see our jewel of a cruise ship.  I would regret these last words....

...when we finally got cleared, she came into view.  By she, I mean.
St. Maarten
..well...about a 3-year old she.  Our cruise ship, easyCruiseOne, was an oversized yacht, having a capacity of 170 and small enough to fit on a football field.   What was even more disturbing was the huge, mean, bully sister of a ship sitting opposite the dock.  You could've laid 3 of our ships end to end and still not reached the massive swimming pool (with slide) at the end of that cruise line.  No complaints though.  I had an idea of what I was getting into (or, onto, I guess).  At $67 a person for 4 nights, luxury is thrown out the window.  My first steps on my first 'cruise' ship were shaky.  It's been a while since I've been on a boat.  After stumbling inside, we were cleared to go in by Manny, the entrant security guard who 'thoroughly' checked each bag to make sure we didn't have weapons/food/etc.
See the BIG cruise ships? Now look at the small, white and navy (with the orange easyCruise logo) one. That's ours :)
  Well, he must've missed the huge duffle bag of snacks we brought because he overlooked those as underwear or t-shirts or something.

We checked in (they took our passports and gave us cool credit-type cards to act as passports and as a tab while on the ship) and went to our room.  And what a room it was.  4-man (2 bunk beds), bathroom complete with sliding door and no dividers between sink, toilet, and shower, no window in the room, and orange...everywhere.  Oh wow.  Luxury took the 3pm flight back to Atlanta.  We were all alone with Mr. Roughing It now.  But it wasn't as bad as initially thought.  For 4 guys, we had plenty of room, the beds were comfortable, and the subtle rocking of the ship was in such a way that it felt like you were being rocked to sleep as you lay on the bed.
Our room...bathroom in the background
  After this overwhelming introduction (imagine how the 4 girls felt, a floor below us), we all wanted to get our feet wet (and more), and make our way down to the beach.  The BEACH!  Finally!!!  After about a mile and a half walk from the dock, we picked out a cozy spot under a palm tree (see travel blog title photo), spread out the towels, and soaked up the last remaining UV rays from the setting sun.  It's about 4:30pm at this point.  Every so often, someone would cool off in the crystal-clear water, walk around, check out the beachside attractions.  I enjoyed a Heineken and nap, while others played with a few stray dogs, talked with locals, and let off all the frustrations of the past week by burying themselves in the sand.
Stray dogs are cool
  This is how spring break should be.

When the sun finally set beneath the hills to the west, we had worked up an appetite.  Airplane food only goes so far.  We walked around to find some restaurants, but eventually came back to the place we beached next to.  Owned by some Aussies, this burger joint was exactly what I envisioned a Caribbean 'restaurant' to be.  Open air seating, beach right in front of you, bar and kitchen right behind you, this was great.  I enjoyed a Presidente (best beer tasted thus far) and cheeseburger, while others tried exotic drinks and barbeque ribs.  All in all, a great place to eat.  And cheap.  And they took US dollars....which I disapprove of.  Another sign that we're not quite far enough away from America.
Perfect setting for our first meal in the Caribbean
  I want that foreign currency!!!

On the walk back to the ship, we stopped at a grocery store and bought peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a 2-liter of sprite, and some Bacardi rum.  The city closed down pretty early that night (granted, it was a Monday), so we decided to enjoy some food and drink back in our rooms.  Alas, we couldn't get back on the ship because of our food.  Where's Manny?!?!?  That didn't dampen our spirits.  We headed back down the stairs to the dock, grabbed a few benches and hung out on the dock for a couple hours.  I've never eaten so much peanut butter and bread (appetizing, I know) in my life!  And washing it down with rum doesn't really do the trick.  When all the supplies were consumed of, aka, we could get back on the ship, we did so and headed for the main deck.
easyCruiseOne
  This deck, which I hadn't been on until now, was complete with bar, dance floor, tables and seating, and a jacuzzi.

**It's rather difficult to fit 8 people in a hot tub that small...and be comfortable.  But we did...and people came and went.  I met an interesting Scottish couple, a fierce South African cricket fanatic, and a man and woman from Ontario and San Francisco, respectively.  What the island lacked in foreign influence, the ship easily made up for this in its guests.  At the end of the night (I was the lone American on the deck at the end of the night), I left with pruny fingers and feet, a much greater knowledge and respect for cricket (ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies), and a revival in my love for traveling.
No hot tub is small enough for us.
  This is what it's all about.  Tonight, St. Maarten...what a good start  :)    Tomorrow, St. Kitts!  Goodnight.

**5 hours later**

I, along with my 3 roommates woke up to the sound of our sliding bathroom door (brilliant) banging with a deafening boom against the wall.  The ship was finally moving...pushing off and heading for our next destination.  Half asleep, we tied the door handle to our room door handle, not having the sense to read the label that told us to lock the bathroom door as instructed.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.  Goodnight....again. 
arlene0725 says:
Actually in Cambodia, the locals don't really like their rhiels which was a bummer. They want the US dollars. You are kinda 'shafted' bec if you don't have enough change you get the local currency. They won't even let me pay my $25 airport tax in Rhiels and Dollars!
Posted on: Jun 11, 2008
jenn79 says:
Loved the blog and pictures - especially the hot tub one! You look like sardines in a can, but happy ones! =)

About the currency thing, surprisingly enough, they took US currency when I was in Tanzania (and rejected my friends' Euros!). Tanzania might be one of the last places that are doing that these days.. So I think countries that take the US Dollar are signs that 1) their government/economy is not very strong/stable and 2) they have good relationships with the U.S. and can convert our money to use with ease. For me, I'm proud when I go somewhere and they will take American money, it's a sign of trust and respect more than anything else. I mean, if someone from another country tried to pay you with their money, would you take theirs? =)
Posted on: Jun 21, 2007
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Were here!!!
We're here!!!
Sticking my hand out the taxi van!
Sticking my hand out the taxi van!
St. Maarten
St. Maarten
See the BIG cruise ships?  Now loo…
See the BIG cruise ships? Now lo…
Our room...bathroom in the backgro…
Our room...bathroom in the backgr…
Stray dogs are cool
Stray dogs are cool
Perfect setting for our first meal…
Perfect setting for our first mea…
easyCruiseOne
easyCruiseOne
No hot tub is small enough for us.
No hot tub is small enough for us.
The Friendly Island
"The Friendly Island"
Gangway shopping
Gangway shopping
So excited!
So excited!
Stephanie demonstrating proper pro…
Stephanie demonstrating proper pr…
Bunk beds, food, lifevests...a lif…
Bunk beds, food, lifevests...a li…
Restaurant in the front...
Restaurant in the front...
...beach in the back!
...beach in the back!
Philipsburg
photo by: Andy99