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MITSUGIRLY has a JEWEL of a time on my 1st RC cruise in years!

Day 4: St Maarten

Day 3 on the ship and St Maarten port day.


So, a little history...


If you remember in the beginning of my review I posted about thrilled (Kia) and our history. If you don't here it is copied and pasted:


So a little history. From me doing reviews here on cc, I made the most wonderful friend! During one of my St Maarten reviews maybe 2 or so years ago, she messaged me with info because she had actually lived there for 7 years, but had moved back to the US. She told me if I was ever to cruise to St Maarten again and she was there on land vacation, she would show me the sites.


So...guess what? I am taking her up on this offer! Kia had originally said since she goes to St Maarten every year for a land vacation she wasn't getting off the ship at all, but ask me what my plans were. I had originally planned to just to to Simpson Bay to hang out on the beach around the Karakter Beach Bar, but then I remembered her "offer"...go me!


We decided to rent a car and she would drive us around to see all over St Maarten. It sounded like a plan and I started researching the various places in the area to rent a car.


We ended up going with a place called Rodael Car Rental. They said they would be at the port to pick us up and their rental was a decent price compared to others. Total with tax was $103.50. They wanted a 20% down payment to secure the card but it seemed next to impossible to get in touch with them. I had 2 different numbers and they never answered. I finally emailed the owner back and he took a few days to respond. By then I had actually gotten in touch with someone else and he told me to "just show up" and didn't take a deposit. Then owner confirmed that this was ok and they would see us in port.




Starting our day...


My alarm was set for 6:30am as it would be every day this week for ports. We headed to the buffet around 7:30am and once again, there wasn't a crowd at all. Where is everyone???


I got my usual...I love this corned beef hash they make. It was so good! I visited bacon mountain and it was cooked to perfection! So it wasn't a dream? There really wasn't any bacon police! I could get use to this! (I still had not discovered you could get actual hash browns yet).

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We were docked by 8am and we headed off the ship to the paparazzi for our pictures.

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Our instructions from Rodael said to head out of the port and gates and they would meet us there...only I can't seem to follow instructions and question myself every step of the way.

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We stopped to ask (at the taxi stand) where to meet Rodael at and they pointed over across the parking lot to this building that said "Hertz car rental". Ok, Hertz-Rodael, yea that sounds the same and makes sense that 2 competing companies would be located together (but hey, they repeated the name Rodael, so I know they heard me).


We trotted, in the already hot sun at 8:15am in the morning, to the car rental place only to be told, no it's "that way"...which was what I originally thought...outside the port.

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Kia and family were not here yet and neither was Rodael. We asked someone outside there and they said "he was here but went down the street and told me to tell you to wait right here". No biggie since we were waiting on the other half of our crew to arrive.


We played keep-out-of-the-sun and used the hill in front of us to block it. We kept having to move and move and before long, there was no staying out of the sun.

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Kia and family finally arrived and I'm so glad they didn't give up trying to find us. I don't believe she knew that you were to go outside the port either but decided to give it a shot and found us.


The guy outside decided to call Rodael for us and he arrived around 8:45am.


He took us back to the rental place, we signed papers, we paid the money and we were headed out.


Our chauffeur for the day.

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These streets are tight. They are bumpy. They are sometimes crazy. But we felt comfortable knowing we had an "ex-local" taking us around...until she informed us that her dad is usually the driver when they stay here...and then that she's really not a great driver...then proceeded to tell us about the accidents she's had in the past...and even those recently. From there on out...Sakari would be on her about every little thing. LOL She should have never gave up that information voluntarily.

I have A LOT of pictures from our day in St Maarten so it took awhile to figure out which pictures to use. There are a lot because we drove the entire island and there was so much devastation that it was hard to just pick and chose which pictures to use. I'm sure I probably used about 1/4 of them and there's still a lot!

So off we went to explore the island. If you remember correctly, Kia had just informed me that her dad does all the driving in St Maarten and she was going to "attempt" to remember how to get us places. LOL


So after that wonderful reassurance that we knew where we were going and what we were we went.


On Septmeber 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma struck the island of St Maarten. It was reported that it was a Category 5 hurricane. A Cateogry 5 hurricane is classified as such when the winds consists of at least 156 mph. It was reported the winds reached 185 mph. It was one of the strongest reported Atlantic hurricanes to ever hit (with first place being in 1980 from hurricane Allen with winds of 190 mph). Everyone remembers the devastation that hurricane Katrina caused when it hit NOLA...well Katrina was 175 mph winds. Maybe that puts it into perspective.


So we are now talking 7 months later. Although I watched and looked at a lot of pictures of the aftermath and the rebuilding and clean up had started, there is still so much damage to the island it's unbelievable.


I am going to "attempt" to show you the path we took during our day. I may be wrong on a few things (since I really don't know my way around), but I'm going off the pictures that I have and guessing where we were at any given point. (I'm pulling up Google Earth now for a little consulting with where we are)


We headed toward Philipsburg to start our day, continuing around the Great Salt Pond area on the main road (Walter Nisbeth Rd). You could immediately see damage.

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We came across the Air Lekkerbek Bar & Restaurant, which was an airplane that was converted into a restaurant.



It started as a Japanese-made, 45-seat puddlejumper of an airliner for WinAir. But the NAMC YS-11-111 was stripped down at the nearby airport and toted across the bay to its present resting place. Now it’s Air Lekkerbek, a bar and restaurant on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten (Saint-Martin on the French side), with additional flag-festooned seating on the outside, because 45 seats just aren’t enough. The jet might be missing part of its tail, but guess what? That’s just a good space to fit another Heineken sign.

Outside the entrance steps, you’re greeted by a very Dutch-looking wooden sign of a bartender serving Heineken. It’s surprisingly airy inside the jet, with white paint, stained wood chairs, and a colorful pattern across the overhead baggage area keeping things light. Thinking about food to accompany your glass of Heineken? Air Lekkerbek offers grilled meat of all kinds, seafood, poultry and lunch platters and sandwiches.



Lekkerbek was closed back in 2014. The owners wrote a letter describing how the government forced them to close. You can find their letter online if interested. Sad sorry.

The plane as it sits today:

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Continuing on...

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Obviously we seem to be driving a little to the right of the road...either Kia's driving skills were point on with what she told us....or we just needed to get drinks for our adventure and pulled over.

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Yea, we needed drinks.


I was enjoying this view.  I seen "The Limited" (store) yacht.

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The Simpson Bay bridge was up and we decided to turn back and head down to the place that Kia likes to stay at when she's here on vacation.

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We were going down Billy Folly Rd and came across, what I believe is, The Pelican Resort Club. Only part of the resort was missing. Kia informed me that there is supposed to be an entire building that was 3 stories tall here, only now it's just the foundation and rubble. (Take a good look at the yellow wall).

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This is the back side of it from the road above:

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So sad. Kia, got out to look at the resort that she stays at and it looked like it was in better shape than this was still standing but problems with the roof and windows was apparent.

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However, the building to the left (in picture above) the roof was off and I believe she said it was one of the places they would always to go eat at and loved it there.



Headed back. A lot of places boarded up.

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This time, the bridge was open.

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Tricia's Perfumes seems to have made it out fine, but the Mega Gym next roof and not many windows.

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I believe Kia said she worked at one of these places in this building when she first moved to St Maarten.

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More buildings in the Simpson Bay area with no walls or roof.

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Plenty of rebuilding going on.

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And other places...they just sit from the devastation.

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While other places...are completely GONE

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Car's along the airport road that have been abandoned and flipped over. Here's a car that is flipped on its side and leaning against the fence.

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Then we decide to stop at a beach at Simpson Bay.


Now prior to this wonderful idea I had of Kia taking us around the island for the day, I had requested info from people here on the boards about what beach to go to. I knew the pickings were scarce because not many of the beaches are back to some-what normal. I was told that

Simpson Bay Beach was the place to head.


I knew that the cruise lines had excursions to Kim Shaw beach, located on Simpson Bay, but others suggested going to Karakter instead and said they were open. we are in between Karakter and Mary Boon. It was almost unrecognizable from the pictures I have seen online of both places.

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The sand was gorgeous. The water was gorgeous.

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But, the buildings were in turmoil and the place was pretty much deserted.


Here is Mary Boon's Beach Resort.

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At the time, I really didn't realize what Mary Boon's was, otherwise I would have went down and took more pictures of the place


Here's what the place looked like before the hurricane (these are not my pictures and pictures that are obtained from the web).


I did a search to see if I could find anything to show what it looked like right after the hurricane.


I did notice that a "Go Fund Me" account was opened for this place and they tried to raise $50k to rebuild, but only $250 was received. :( I'm thinking it was so devastated that maybe they have not rebuilt and possibly are not open. When going on their website, no matter what date I put in, there's no availability (even after they had a post stating they are giving discounts if you use the code "POSTIRMA" in the booking.


So sad.

But then again, maybe they are. I just noticed in some of my other pictures looking further down, there were some beach chairs.

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Looking to the right, this is where Karakter Beach Bar is/was located.

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I could not find anything at all that resembled anything I had seen of the place in the pictures.


There seemed to be a small building and some concrete pillars around that area.

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They had some yellow beach chairs sat out. But previous pictures I had seen showed the restaurant was a bus and had a deck (not concrete) and just steps (wood) to the beach.


Although pictures show them changing their "roof" often (umbrella's to eat under), I still show nothing online to say what these concrete looking pillars are in the sand.

Here are some pictures (not mine and found on the web) of the place before the hurricane.


Maybe the bus was sitting on the concrete? Maybe the bus was lost in the hurricane? Anyone know the story?


We didn't stay very long here, even though Sakari was trying her best to "let's just swim!" It really didn't look like an appealing place to be at the moment and it was very deserted. So, we decided to move on as much as Sakari pouted.


So out we went....


Hmm, looks like they lost their "top"...of the building of course. You could see the see in the windows.

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We would head out and around the airport. There were boats and yachts everywhere still flipped over.

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Something as simple as seeing these leafless palm trees was so sad to me.

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I think this big boy was ran aground.

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I think this big boy was ran aground.

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Pirate ship? I wonder if this is the one that I would always see and take pictures of when we would go to Maho or when we went to Mullet?

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There are 3 pelican sculptures at the roundabout near the Princess Juliana International Airport.


The pelican is the "national" bird and has traits that are inherent in the St Maarten personality: grace, resourcefulness, courage and sacrifice (at least that's what an online article says).


Michael Maghiro was the sculptor of the three bronze pelicans.

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Here is a picture that I managed to take of a boat that I had actually seen pictures of, that someone else had taken online, after the hurricane. I remember wondering what it was originally because it looked like it had a fish on the top of the smoke stack and I wondered if this a restaurant on the water at one time.

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I did a little research and found that this was called Pink Iguana. It was a tugboat (someone said over a 100 years old) that was converted into a bar with 2 stories of seating. It was located right across from the airport.

I promise you Kia, I was not creeping on you with this pic. I just happen to see a plane coming in.

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Then past Maho Beach (I didn't even notice we were near Maho until it was too late to take a picture). But, I did figure out in time to know where we were at and that we were getting ready to go down the street that we had taken before when walking from Mullet to Maho on a previous trip.


We are headed down Rhine Rd.


This is the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort:

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To see the other side of this resort (you can google pictures online) is just devastating!


And then there's the Casino they tear it completely down and start over?

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Here's what it used to look like: (not my picture but a picture from the web).


Here are 2 pictures (from the internet) that shows right after the hurricane hit.


Continuing on down the road to a very familiar place to me because we stopped in this area and ate Subway at the end there and then went into several shops along the way back.


It didn't look like any of those stores were open at the moment. Maybe roof damage or damage to the other side of the building?

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Come visit, remodeling "opening soon"....hmmmm ??? Whatever it is, I don't think it will be opening "soon" and I thought that Dunes Casino was in Philipsburg? Was this a different casino at some point and they are just referring everyone to Dunes while they repair?

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We were driving for awhile and I was really wrapped up in my thoughts of everything I was witnessing. Kia tells me that we are driving down the middle of the golf course on the road. I hadn't even noticed this was the place where we walked from Mullet until getting onto the main road. We were busy talking that I didn't even take any pictures. I couldn't even believe it was the same golf course. The grass was very tall and sorta dead looking.


Here we have Ocean Club of St Maarten. According to their page, they are "under construction".

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I want to say at some point we swung a right and ended up on Rue Des Terres Basses Rd and headed toward the other side of the island. For some reason I had absolutely no photo's from the last picture at Ocean Club in the CupeCoy area all the way across to the other side where we would end up at Chez Raymond at Baie Rouge.


Getting in here was a little tricky. We almost missed our turn and Kia pulled a fast and furious whip around and past something that looked like security guards and through these gates.


Parking lot...

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Kia was telling us about how the place use to look and how there were trees lined up for shade and now there's just a bunch of brush and trash everywhere from the hurricane.

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So there was a little trailer here and I guess that was Chez Raymonds beach restaurant.

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I was able to locate some older pictures that showed what this place looked like before (from the internet and not my pictures).


As you can see in this picture, there was some lattice that extended to the side (and you can see the trailer and windows in the picture).


Obviously there used to be a lot more to this place with places to eat in the shade.


Then there's all this...(hopefully these are the right place, but that's what the internet said...I'm sure Kia can confirm since she has been there many times).


The beach and water looked beautiful and at least they did have chairs and umbrellas here.

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Someone came out to ask us if we'd like a chair, but after a lot of determination, we decided to move on. I really wanted to see the sites of the entire island. Sakari...not so much. She was still begging for water. A mermaid can only survive out of water for so long.

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We pulled out of Chez Raymond and headed down the street for a look at more devastation.

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Headed down Rue de Sandy Ground to the Sandy Ground area at Nettle Bay.


Here is the Le Flamboyant Hotel and Resort condos.

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Coming across the Lady Liberty statue in the Agrement roundabout in Marigot. This statue represents emancipation and created by Theodore Bonev and was placed in 2007. It marked the 159th anniversary of the 1848 Emancipation from slavery.

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We were headed to a place that Kia had talked about years ago and it was a very unknown area were the water was very shallow and you would find tons of starfish. We knew it was quite a drive from the area we were coming from, but I started to see water ahead.

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Unlike a man, Kia stopped to make sure we were going in the right direction and everyone decided it was time for some drinkage. We stopped at this gas station.

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Off we went again...

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Getting closer to the water.

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Here is Ta Ta the Bus Driver at the Beledere roundabout and located on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. He was known for transporting students to and from school while keeping discipline on the bus. Another statue there is Alec the Butcher, who had 42 children and was known for farming and selling fresh meat. The third person is Lalie and known for providing fresh breads and pastries to those in need. She also provided shelter during disasters, such as, hurricanes.

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No matter the devastation, the water still made it beautiful.

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We missed a few turns, but the roads we did turn on happened to lead us to the same place.


We eventually came to the place that Kia had been wanting to show us for awhile.

Now I'm not 100% sure, but pretty close, that we went to a place called Rotary Lookout Point. From trying to research it and finding other similar pictures, I think that's where she took us.


We pulled into the dirt with big rocks parking lot...bump, bump, bump...Sakari yells "Hey Kia, you sure you can drive this thing?" Kia tells her she's grounded to the car for the rest of the day and no mermaid activities. Just kidding...but it was a bumpy "parking" situation.


We got out and Sakari immediately grabbed her mermaid tail. "Nope, not at this place". The water is VERY rocky and it's not a swimming place and about knee deep in some places.


We told Sakari about the tons of Starfish in the area and the excitement came over her as she ran down to the water.

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At first, we were the only one's here with the exception of a few locals hanging out. Then more people started to come, but not many.

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Kia said usually you can walk in ankle deep water all the way to the other little island.

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However, the water was a little deeper this time around and the water was moving quite a bit today. It was really hard to maneuver around and you had to be very careful of every step you took.

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There were spiny black sea urchins everywhere and with the water moving, it was very hard to see what was under there. I would stick my camera under the water, at any given time when Sakari would point at something, to see what was under there...only to find out it wasn't anything but a weird rock.


We searched for awhile, but it really wasn't a good day for this. Sakari only had her flip flops and trying to walk on the rocky bottom of this area, she lost a flip flop a few times. It's not like you can go chasing it as the water quickly moves it down and away from you. I made sure that I stayed on the other side of her ("downstream" is the only way to describe it) just in case she continued to lose it then I would be able to catch it as it floated by me.

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They did have some type of observation deck, but we didn't go up there. There were some ladies sitting under the deck trying to sell goods to everyone that walked by and I didn't want to deal with that so didn't go over there.

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We were unsuccessful in finding any starfish that day. Maybe the water was just too rough or maybe they were out further.

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Although this was a really neat place, we were unsuccessful in finding anything and it was time to leave.


We all piled in the car and was ready to pull out and some cars decided to park beside us AND BEHIND US!!! Hmm, ok. So Kia pulled the car up and back and up and...wait, why are we not going back easily again? She gave it more gas...then thump....kkkkeeerrrr. What was that dragging sound? The ladies at the lookout point was staring and pointing. Oh gosh, what just happened? Are we dragging the bumper?


After pulling out from the trapped in area we were in, I noticed this huge bolder buried in the dirt in the parking lot. That must have been what we were stuck on.


We hung our heads in shame and burned rubber and sped out of there like our life depended on shame. :eek:

A little ways down the street, we seen some horses up on the hill.

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Then we seen something in the middle of the street. As we got closer, we seen it was a herd of goats.