We were up early this morning and had breakfast delivered to our room. We ate and got ready then waited for the announcement that the gangway was out. When it came we went down and went ashore looking for the right group for our tour. We discovered that ours appeared to be the most popular one. We were lined up and led out to buses. The driver was the guide and was very informative and at times quite funny.
We drove past the salt ponds which had been the original attraction for early explorers of the Caribbean. We drove over to the French side of the island. Sint Maarten/Sainte Martin was fought over by the Spanish, British French and Dutch. After the others had abandoned the island the French and the Dutch agreed to share it in 1642 and it has been a peaceful relationship ever since, with no formalities in crossing from one side to the other. We drove round, stopping at a few places to admire the view and take photos. Unfortunately, in 2017 a hurricane hit the north (French) part of the island the damage is still very evident. While some repair and reconstruction has taken place, there is much to be done and quite a number of boats are lying half submerged or battered on the shore.
We stopped for a short time in the French Capital of Marigot which proved a disappointment. It is very run down and did not exude the vibrant French atmosphere I had anticipated. No doubt the effects of the hurricane are at least partly to blame. There are some French touches with wrought iron railings on balconies, but even these were mostly rusted and supported by plaster peeling buildings. We admired some yachts in the bay then walked through some streets which did not appear very inviting.
We continued on to the other border crossing where we had a brief stop then continued to Maho Beach which is famous for the manner in which sunbathers can almost catch the planes wheels as they land. The beach was quite crowded and the bus parked a short way past the beach. Christine stopped to try and snap a bird and I walked along to the beach where a plane landed just as I got to it, missing a photo by seconds. I had a walk along the beach and Christine spotted me. Afterwards she claimed I was the only person on the beach in long pants and took a photo to prove it! I returned to the bus just as another plane landed - missed again! Christine who was closer also missed it due to the crush of people jumping up to catch a photo. As we left in the bus a third plane landed. Just not our day!
We continued on to a facility that houses a carousel and sells ice cream. I am not sure which is the most attractive feature, but they certainly seemed t sell a lot of ice cream, though we did not indulge.
The bus continued into Philipsburg and I was the only passenger to take advantage of the opportunity to stay in town and explore while the rest were taken back to the ship.
A mother and daughter from Lloydminster and Edmonton respectively with whom we have had dinner were on our bus and they and Christine walked back together with Christine making a purchase on the way. They went onto the ship and had lunch together. I, meanwhile, walked to where I could get a water taxi back to the ship, then walked along the main street for a bit, cut down a lane to the sea front and walked along the promenade, past the water taxi dock. I stopped for water that we anted to take back to the ship and a bottle of Gatorade which I drank at a picnic table on the beach. I went to the water taxi dock and confirmed its purpose, price and availability. There were barely half a dozen people waiting and the boat arrived with me being one of the first on board. Then the floodgates opened and the boat which must have held at least 50 people filled up. I can only assume the other passengers had waited in the air-conditioned stores and emerged when the boat arrived.
The trip only too about ten minutes and I was soon on the pier. It was a lengthy walk to the ship in the heat, but, seeing the line to board at the first gangplank and imagining the crush to get on elevators once on board, I elected to continua walking to the other gangplank where I walked right up to security and was on board in seconds. There were only a few of us waiting on an elevator which soon came and I was back in the room. There was no sign of Christine, so I dropped my things and went to get some rather late lunch, expecting to run into Christine on the Lido Deck, but there was no sign of her. The daughter of the pair she was having lunch with is not a good sailor and they were eating outside. I had not thought to look there as Christine likes shade.
When I returned to the room, Christine was there, sorting out what she had brought back, having only just got to the room. We at outside most of the afternoon watching the activity on the ship docked across from us on the other side of the pier. There were five cruise ships in which made for a busy day in port. We got ready and went for dinner. We were part way through the meal when the lady and her daughter joined us, so we finished our meals together. We were going to the string quintet and excused ourselves. We were fortunate to get seats as the place was well filled. The edges of the room have individual chairs, we were able to collect two and put then together in a space and listen and see the musicians perform two works by Mozart. As I have remarked previously, they are very good.
We had a seat and watched the world go by then had a walk on the deck before returning to our room to sort out some of our belongings ready for tomorrow and read, sort out our photos of the day (all 150 of them) and catch up with the journal.
Tomorrow is Martinique where we have arranged a private tour.