Saint Maarten, locally called Sint Maarten because it is Dutch, takes up just thirteen square miles and 40 percent of a Caribbean island. The other 60 percent is called Saint Marten. Dropping or adding that one “a” in the name, however, makes a big difference.
Saint Maarten with two a’s is an independent Dutch country, a constituent country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, an equal partner with the Netherlands. They have their own government.
On the other hand, Saint Marten with one a, is an overseas collectivity, an administrative division of France, and like Martinique is represented in the governmental bodies of France.
Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side, has a good harbor and had a cruise ship dock when we first visited in 2003. That dock has been expanded and improved, and now there is an elaborate facility with shops and restaurants. It can take the largest ships, and many cruise lines stop there.
We had our fifth visit this January. A major arthritis flare put Alie in a wheelchair , and I just was ready for an easy day.
I pushed Alie to the downtown area. As it was early, shops and restaurants were just beginning to open. It was a pleasant day for a stroll.
We saw nothing new to us but did learn a little bit of history. The Spanish captured the island in 1633, and Peter Stuyvesant, later the famous Director General of New Netherland in New Amsterdam [now New York], tried to take it back in 1644. He failed and lost a leg in the battle. I recall seeing his portraits with a wooden peg leg like some fictional pirate. I gather he wasn’t liked by those under his tyrannical rule. Perhaps that facilitated the English takeover and name change to New York. Meanwhile, the island continued to change hands.
Back on our ship, we sat and enjoyed the day. In particular, I enjoyed seeing the sailboats in these photos. They once sailed in the America’s Cup races.
The next time we are on Saint Maarten, we will sail on one of those boats.
Click on photos to enlarge.