Philipsburg, St Maarten
This was an excellent excursion in an air-conditioned mini-bus of about 25 passengers. We got to learn the history and see the sights of the Dutch and French sides of St. Maarten from a knowledgably driver. We took two stops of 10 minutes each, and two beach/shopping stops of 45 minutes each-- the one at the airport runway was crowded, but still exciting to see the planes come in so close overhead! The tour lasted about six hours total, about an hour more than advertised, and included pretty much the entire island. The only disappointment was that the tour did not take in downtown Phillipsburg, but that was easily remedied by taking the water taxi roundtrip from the cruise dock for an extra $7 and visiting downtown for another couple hours. We had about 8 hours in this port, so this excursion and water taxi combo made for a perfect day in St, Maarten!
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
This was an excellent excursion in a newer open-air Ford pickup truck that is converted to hold about 18 passengers (these are the most common form of transportation of tourist on the island-- you see them everywhere). We got to learn the history and see the sights of pretty much the entire island of St. Thomas. Our driver Elvis was very knowledgably and made the trip fun by adding music and singing songs. We took several short stops of 5-10 minutes each, a stop of 45 minutes at Mountain Top, and a two hour stop at Sapphire Beach, which was less crowed, more scenic, more coral, and no extra admission cost than the more famous Magens Beach (Elvis let us do a bus vote on which beach to visit-- Sapphire won unanimously). The excursion lasted a bit over six hours total. Since we had about 9 hours in this port, this tour and beach experience made for a perfect day in St. Thomas!
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