MSC Seaside Cruise Stop: Saint Maarten, BVI
Cruising the MSC Seaside, one of our four stops in the Caribbean was beautiful Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Arriving into port, you will be on the Dutch side of the island, which is known for its shopping, excursions and casinos. Knowing we only had about 5 hours to explore and being first timers, we designed an attack plan. Using our time wisely, we tackled the Rainforest Adventures Excursion, Maho Beach, and the shops by the cruise ship.
Address: LB Scott Rd #59, Cul de Sac, Sint Maarten
Prior to setting sail on the cruise I contacted Rainforest Adventures because they have an unique excursion; the steepest zip-line in the world. We booked "The Big Three"option: Flying Dutchman, Sky Explorer and Schooner Ride with the chair lift up Sentry Hill. I registered our group directly through the Rainforest Adventures site. Opting out of the transportation option as I found that finding our own transportation would be easier. We had a fear of being in a large group then having to wait in lines. This was a great choice!
Wear socks and sneakers
Bring a small backpack, as you can check it during the Sky Explorer and wear it during the Flying Dutchman
We wore sunglasses the whole time and did not have a problem
Bring Cash, easier for cabs
We got off the boat around 8:30am and walked toward the taxi stand. The cost to Rainforest Adventures for 3 people was $7.00. We hopped in the cab and arrived just before 9am. We were the first ones to arrive that morning. This allowed us to quickly check in and start the excursion up the lift to the Schooner Ride with no lines. The 1 minute inflated tube ride down a plastic man made path was an easy yet exciting first ride as I did not know what to expect. We called this the warm up run (pictured below).
After the schooner ride, we got back on the chair lift and headed up Sentry Hill to the Sky Explorer. We called this 2nd part the practice run. The staff was friendly and efficient as they coached you along the way. These zip-lines go back and forth on top of the hill allowing for the most breathtaking views on both sides of the island. Our group had a lot of fun shooting across the top of the island at high speeds.
The third leg of the trip is the Flying Dutchman or as we called it 'The Big One'. This is not your traditional zip line as it launches you down the mountain on a flight line dropping 1050 feet at an elevation over 2800 ft. One of my favorite parts was the incredible views from the top of the Flying Dutchman. While taking in the scenery and awaiting your turn there is a bar at the top to calm your nerves.
The Flying Dutchman was sending 2 people at a time and once called over a loud speaker you line up according to numbers given to you. When it is your turn you are harnessed in a chair. As soon as you leave the platform this became a thrill of a lifetime as it went fast, but not too fast so you can't look around and take in the island.
If you are an adventure seeker the Rainforest Adventure Big Three is the excursion for you. I would recommend this to anyone who wants the best views of this gorgeous island and a full adrenaline rush. TheRockland Estate truly offers something for everyone; with a beautiful restaurant, stunning scenery, the thrilling zip-line as well as a museum that showcases the history of St. Maarten.
GREAT TRANSPORTATION OPTION
After our morning excursion, Rainforest Adventures got us in touch with Leo Brown. He took us to Maho Beach, and told us information about the island on the way. His prices were very reasonable. He also scheduled a time to pick us up at Maho Beach to bring us back to the ship, and I am thoroughly glad we did because it is a very busy area.
LEO BROWN: Right Choice Taxi #303
MAHO BEACH AND SUNSET BAR SXM
2 Beacon Hill Road, Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten
Those who travel to St Maarten by air will fly into Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side, and I could imagine it would make for a memorable landing. The airport is famous for its ridiculously short runway between Maho Beach and a large hill. We flocked to this area to watch the gigantic jets navigate the peculiar flight path. For $10 dollars you can get a lounge chair and service on Maho Beach. As you walk up to Sunset Bar you can read the surfboard for daily flight arrivals. Finally we saw a plane peek through the clouds and head our way. The beach gets very excited and many pull out their cameras for a shot of the plane landing just meters above sunbathers. Flights began arriving around 10:30am and it was very busy when we arrive in the early afternoon. After we saw a few flights arrive we had fresh guacamole and chips with a signature island Guavaberry Smootie Cocktail. I recommend leaving a couple hours to experience this fun and unique experience time on the beach in St. Maarten.