Our visit to Phillpsburg was interesting, and if I go back to the Caribbean, and to this island in particular, I hope that I can get around a bit more and see it in a different way. We were on the Dutch side of the island, and I saw nothing particularly Dutch, or particularly Caribbean either. Because I got hooked on the shopping thing by the cruise shopping director, we spent our day in port running around trying to find all the shops that honored our free coupons, and shopping isn't one of Mo's favorite things to do, but she was a good sport. We discovered Diamonds International, and Tanzanite International, among a gazillion others. We learned that shopping for extreme luxuries, aka "bling" is the big thing to do when cruising the Caribbean.
Maybe not. I bought the silly coupon book for 25 bucks, thinking I would get a discount on my spa treatment, but then the fine print said "port days only" and I certainly wasn't going to stay on the ship on a port day. Live and learn, I guess. We did manage to get a color changing bag from Del Sol, and a water wallet from DI, but really didn't find much of interest in that whole day of running around Old St. Maarten. Next time I will take a taxi to the French side and check out the local market.
The beach was white and lovely and very crowded, and the water was all churned up by the storms. Two beach chairs and an umbrella came with a bucket of beer for 20 bucks so we declined that one and instead opted for conch fritters and pina coladas at the barefoot bar on the beach. It's a bit difficult to feel what the West Indies might be like when the town is filled with more than 10,000 tourists from the ships. I have heard that there are some really lovely things to explore on St Maarten, but this particular cruise had a very short port time, really not enough time at all. I'll pay attention to that as well if I ever get a chance to return here.