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St. Maarten on a Cruise...

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St. Maarten on a Cruise...

Just returned from a glorious weeklong vacation aboard the Freedom of the Seas with my husband and daughters. We visited San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. In St. Maarten, we decided to rent a car and venture out on our own. We got off the pier and immediately noticed there were car rental businesses just within a block or two. I must say that we got taken. We were shown a picture of a nice little green SUV and we were told it would cost us $50 for the day. Well, another guy had us get in his van and he drove us to where our vehicle was. It was in a very rundown area, just off the main road. The vehicle we got looked like it had been stripped clean by some drug lords. It was a beat up (no exageration) Toyota Rave and the entire roof on the inside was stripped down to the metal. The radio was completely exposed and the AC sounded like a jet engine. The whole inside was covered in dust. It was awful! Let me go ahead and say that when we turned the vehicle in, the price we owed jumped to $80!

We started from the Dutch side and tried to venture over to the French side. The guy at the rental place said it would take us about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to drive around the whole island. Well, the traffic was horrible and we made it as far as Moho Beach, where the airplanes fly right over your head. The beach and water were beautiful.

We knew we'd better not venture off much farther because we had to be back to the cruise ship by late afternoon and we wanted to have time to shop. It took us forever to find a place to park. Once again, the traffic was terrible! The city of Phillipsburg did not impress us. It was very dirty. So, I'm not sure where we should have gone to see the prettier side of St. Maarten, but we didn't find it the day we were there. The vendors at the downtown market were quite pushy and insistant.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Just curious.

Staten Island, New...
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1. Re: St. Maarten on a Cruise...

Sorry to read about your experience with the rental company. I hope you can dispute the charges with your credit card company and recover the $40.00.

Auburn Washington
Destination Expert
for St Martin / St Maarten
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2. Re: St. Maarten on a Cruise...

I believe you but I think your experience is not a typical one for visitors. You just had the miss fortune of running in to the wrong rental person. It should take no more than two hours to go around the island but traffic is difficult to predict. Your car sounded like a nightmare and I'm sorry for your experience. The board walk area and Phillipsbuerg I have always found pretty clean and the venders not very pushy. Usually they take no for an answere and that is it. Of course the economy is at such with not as many cruise ships comming in they might be trying a little harder to make a buck or two. The prettier side of St Maarten can be found in the people, beaches, some of the counrty side and the first class dinning. Give it another try and spend a week, you'll see why we like it so much.

United States
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3. Re: St. Maarten on a Cruise...

I can understand what you are saying. When I cruised to SXM about three years ago, I had pre-arranged a car rental through Arthur's Car Rental. When I got off the ship and was looking for Arthur in the rental area, several people tried very emphatically to get me to rent from them. I was very glad that I had pre-booked my rental and did not have to use any of these salespeople. The rental I had was an almost new vehicle, Kia Sorento, I think. It was a very nice vehicle, and Arthur's service to me was top notch.

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4. Re: St. Maarten on a Cruise...

It is really hard to know an island on a cruise. We have taken several cruises (8), but now prefer to stay on an island and enjoy being in one spot. When we did cruise, we usually booked something off the ship as we didn't want to have the kind of experience you had. I usually would go to the forums of our destinations so I would see what there was to do in port.

The traffic in SXM is horrible, especially on a day when there are a lot of ships in port.

I hope you have luck disputing your charges with your credit card.

5. Re: St. Maarten on a Cruise...

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