Paradise Found: Cruise on the Carnival Victory (St. Maarten)

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I am a planner when it comes to traveling.  I read travel guides.  I read blogs.  I read forums.  I bet that even before I set ground in a new destination, I know more about that place than someone who’s been there before.  In other words, I knew quite a bit about St. Maarten before I got there, and I had the day planned out rather meticulously.

And then when I got there I threw the plans out the window 🙂

Were parts of the trip what I had planned?  Sure, but most of the day turned out differently from what I had expected.  It was really easy to switch gears, so no harm done.

The whole switcharoo was instigated by my sister’s last-minute decision that she wanted go horseback riding.  We were able to book a ride no problem, and taxis (as always) were widely available, making getting there a breeze.  Now, I’m not a big fan of horses, but she humored me by hiking in St. Kitt’s, so it was time for me to take one for the team.

Unfortunately, from that point forward, we were officially on island time.  Our ride turned into a logistical nightmare, with the stable operator acting entirely on their own schedule and re-booking us into a later tour group (since we were the only ones booked on the earlier tour).  Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue – the surroundings were gorgeous and letting them sink in isn’t exactly a hardship – but somehow time becomes more precious when you only have ten hours to the day.

We did enjoy our time seaside, it just wasn’t what we expected.  Eventually, we saddled up for a short ride along the St. Maarten coastline.  I’d say the scenery was gorgeous, but in reality I spent more time making sure my horse was behaving than admiring the view.  My sister, on the other hand, had a  blast!  The highlight was taking a short swim with our horses.  Yes, they really swim!

Our ride ended on a high note from our dip in the ocean, so we happily taxied over to Maho Beach, which is adjacent to the St. Maarten airport.  This beach’s claim to fame is it’s perfect location for plane spotting, and as someone who spends too much time on FlyerTalk, I felt I should give it a visit.  It was really cool…for the first half dozen airplanes.  From then on out, it lost it’s pizazz as we fought the sand flying in our eye from the jet blast.  I’m really glad I saw it, but an hour of viewing was enough for me!

By this point in the day, we were absolutely starving.  I surprised myself by suggesting simply returning to Philipsburg for lunch rather than my intended stop in Marigot, but this ended up being an excellent choice.  The drive back was gorgeous, and gave me enough of a reason to decide to return in the future.

Philipsburg was a lot of fun.  It was absolutely a tourist trap lined with shops, stalls, and vendors.  There were restaurants and bars and coffee shops galore.  My only regret was that we didn’t have more time to explore!  We sat on the boardwalk, enjoying fresh squeezed juice and roti while spending half our time watching the water and the other half the time people-watching.  We rounded out the afternoon with window shopping, drink sampling, and a nice walk back to the port.

St. Maarten may not have gone according to my plans, but it was a wonderful day nevertheless.

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