St Maarten

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sam Scrutton who kindly sorted out the earlier postings which had been truncated. Now it is almost as it was originally save that I have had to omit a number of photos.

After the rain in Guadeloupe we were expecting more of the same in St Maarten. That was the forecast, but when we awoke the sky was blue and the sun was hot and shining.

Jane and I were last here on a voyage on Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator, as it was called then. The port of Philipsburg has changed dramatically. Two large piers have been constructed, each capable of berthing 4 cruise ships. The possibility of 8 cruise ships In port at the same time is scary. It would be overrun. One of the taxi drivers told me that they once had 12 cruise ships in together. I do not believe that.

Today there were four ships in port. QV, P&O’s Azura, a Celebrity ship and Jewel of the Seas. The port area has been transformed since we were last here with a very busy terminal, diamond shops galore, top of the range duty free watch retailers and a multitude of stalls touting the regular Caribbean tat.

St Maarten is small and to be found between Anguilla and St Barts. It is one of the Leeward Islands and is strange because it is an island of two nations – the Dutch St

Maarten and the French Saint Martin.

The island, as with so many, was first found by Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was then the subject of numerous battles between the Spanish and the Dutch but eventually the Spanish left. The Dutch claimed the island for themselves, only to find that French pirates and smugglers had started arriving.

In March 1648 the Treaty of Concordia was signed by the French and the Dutch. It divided up the island and remains in force today.

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