March 20 - St. Marten/Sint Maarten *PICTURES ADDED 4/13*
*this is the smallest land mass governed by 2 nations: the Dutch and the French, since 1648.
*they share quite a bit but have their separate languages, interests and vibes.
*island's original name was Soulougia (Salt Land) because of its valuable salt flats
*one of the earliest islands to open up to tourism (its main industry)
*Dutch side has many casinos; French side gourmet restaurants and expensive shopping
*no border checks; just a short obelisk to indicate the change in country
*Philipsburg is the Dutch capital – where the cruise ships dock (up to 10 the same day!)
*Marigot is the French capital – where the passengers go to eat and shop
*Grande Case is the French fishing village known for its gourmet chefs and restaurants and
*called the Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean
Our shore excursion: was a drive around both sides of the island with some stops to admire the lovely water scenes, boats, beaches and homes. Not very many really interesting sights...
We had 45 min. (about 20 too many) to wander shops and vendor booths in Marigot. It never ceases to amaze us how so many people can earn a living when they all sell the same
merchandise! (shirts, dresses, book bags, key chains, hats, etc., etc.)
There were 4 ships in port today: our medium-sized Maasdam and Celebrity's Constellation beside the enormous P & O Azure and Norwegian's Epic. Those 2 were said to have 4,000 passengers each! (Seven ships due in tomorrow, followed by 8 the next day! )