First, how did we find out about Captain Bob?...By exactly what you are doing now, searching the internet and Tripadvisor. We wanted a non-traditional cruise excursion, something that would be unforgettable, safe, fun and would not cause harm to our bank account at the end of the day. Captain Bob's ratings were off the charts, unbelievably so. Could they be real? In a word: "Yes!"
We had a party of 13 friends and family join me and my wife on a Royal Caribbean Cruise (Oasis OTS) in early June 2014, and we all decided to do this excursion together while in St. Martin. My wife and our friends are all in their early to late 50's, and our adult children range from 19-25. A couple of us have back problems, which would have been a big concern, had I not read how Captain Bob puts anyone in the driver seat with him - the smoothest part of the boat ride. On this trip, Captain Bob had his son, Bret, join us. So, my wife (one of the back-troubled individuals in our party), got to sit at the helm with this young strapping 34 year old hunk of a guy the whole 6 hour tour. She could not get the smile off her face (I have the pictures to prove it!). And to think she was the one concerned about going in the first place. All I heard afterwards was how great the trip was, especially Bret! ; )
So first we toured around the island in Captain Bob's beautiful new Scarab 3 engine 900 horse power boat. Did we go fast? Yes. All the time? No. We buzzed around the island at speed for a few minutes, which is all it takes in that boat to cover a lot of "ground", and then turned into inside bays where Captain Bob would tell his best jokes (yes, they really were funny), and give us islander facts. Frankly, after this trip, you will want to live on St. Martin. The Captain should be running a real estate business on the side!
There were four swim stops on our tour, two where we could snorkel. I've snorkeled a million times before, and NEVER have I seen sea turtles. We saw four on this trip! I think the reason is that the Captain goes into the Nature Preserve, were only smaller tours can venture, virtually eliminating the big cruise ship tour crowds and keeping the areas pristine. What a joy to snorkel there. This may freak some out, we even saw a small (6ft span) Manta Ray cruise past, then circle and hang around on our second snorkel stop. It was amazing. If you want to see plentiful and colorful fish, and interesting species like sea turtles, etc. this is the tour for you. If not, get in the water anyway, you will be so glad that you did - marking it as a high light on your life's bucket list, I'm sure. Even the most squeamish in our party went in the water, and we always felt safe.
The lunch stop was wonderful - except I spent a little too long in the seaside bar buying everyone drinks rather than enjoying the impeccable picturesque Caribbean beach just yards away. The drinks were exceptional though, so who's complaining?! The lunch was more than I expected. Huge portions of fish, or ribs, or chicken, with sides of rice/beans. It really was great.
Toward the end of our trip we also spent a few minutes idling just off the runway approach to the airport. The large plane landing was a little early, so we missed it, but saw it from a slight distance as we were cruising in toward the beach. A massive jet liner only about 40ish feet above the water. We did get to see another large liner take off. Funny how the beach goers actually crowd along the fence along the back of the runway to get sand blasted by the engine wash. They must not be able to see to well after that experience, but it was fun for us to watch from our perfectly safe vantage point about a 100 yards off the shore.
The ONLY downside that I can think of is that you will have very little time after this excursion to shop in the main downtown St. Martin area if you are visiting the island like we were during a cruise vacation. We have been on St. Martin before, so for us this excursion way overcompensated for missing that part of our trip. It was SO worth it to do something SO unique, with such great service. There was a small beach shop on our second swim stop were our 19 year old twin girls (two sets of them in our group - must be something about the water we drink) purchased some great embroidered T-shirts and novelties at very reasonable prices in the small island shop.
In net, sign up for this excursion, you will NOT be disappointed. It will be the time that you and your loved ones talk about for decades to come. Frankly, I'll do it again the next time we visit too.
Thanks Captain Bob!
Glen from Atlanta, Ga.
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