By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises
One relatively small island, about 34 square miles or 87 square kilometers.
Two countries: the constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the southern side, and the French overseas collectivity on the north.
Three names: Sint-Maarten to the Dutch. Saint-Martin to the French.
Four dominant cultural heritages: African, French, British, and Dutch.
Silver Cloud docked in Philipsburg on the Dutch side, one of the largest cruise ship ports in the world.
And today, five cruise ships in port. One is the largest floating passenger carrying machine in the world with nearly 6,000 guests and 3,000 crew. Three others are merely huge.
For the record, although the French side is larger and in some places more attractive with the better beaches and restaurants, the Dutch side has the significant harbor of Philipsburg.
Depending on your point of view, on a good day (for business) or a bad day (for people who seek a bit of solitude) there can be as many as six large ships in port: there could be twenty thousand guests and another ten thousand crew headed for the narrow alleys of Philipsburg.
The Dutch side also has Princess Juliana International Airport.
This is probably the only place they could have put a flat runway on the oddly shaped island. But there is so little available land on Saint Martin that this is what they came up with: one end is a public beach and the other is Simpson Bay with a range of thousand-foot hills.
I am much happier to be coming in and departing aboard a handsome small cruise ship.
All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.