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St Maarten is the smallest Island in the world to be divided between two sovereign powers.
The current boundary is a result of numerous wars between great European powers in the 17th century. Ownership of the Island is split between the Dutch and French, yet no rift exists between the people of these cultures. The island's inhabitants are quite proud of their nearly 350-year history of peaceful co-existence.
According to legend, Columbus discovered the island in 1493 on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. During the 140 years that followed, the Spanish, French and Dutch disputed possession, or at least the right to use the resources, of St. Maarten/St. Martin.
On March 23, 1648, a treaty was concluded atop Mount Concordia delineating the boundaries of the island. The Dutch received 16 square miles and the French received 21 square miles, owing to the latter's superior naval presence in the region when the treaty was signed.
The French and Dutch were not always as neighborly as they are today - the territory underwent 16 changes of flag from 1648 to 1816, with France, Holland and even Britain claiming it at times.
The establishment of sugarcane plantations during the late 1700s inevitably brought with it slavery. The exploitive colonial system remained intact and prospered as long as there were slaves; however, once slavery was abolished the economy suffered greatly. The island became mired in a depression that lasted until 1939, when all import and export taxes were rescinded and the island became a free port.
Thereafter, St. Maarten/St. Martin developed as a hub of trade in the Caribbean; the most dramatic advances were made in the late 1950's with the opening of the airport. In the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, hotels began to proliferate around the island and more cruise ships began to visit. today, the island's appeal is stronger than ever.
St. Maarten is a free port and has no local sales taxes. Prices on liquors, imported linen, quality fine perfumes and European chocolates can be as much as 50% less than those found in the U.S. Locally grown guavaberries are a staple - the native berries are used to make liquors, jams and sauces.
We had a private tour with our Cruise Critic friends Steve and Beth.
Our private Tour was with a local guide, whose name was Joyce.
What a bargain! Joyce was just great. She was very personable and knew everything about St. Marrten. She took us all over the island in her SUV which was air conditioned thank goodness. We stopped and had some really good hot dogs at a hang out just past the runway at the airport, on the beach. After the the tour we asked her where we could get some Hawaiian shirts. She took us to a store that had some really great bargains...I got three very nice shirts for $20.00!
We highly recommend Joyce's tours and if you visit her website: http://www.joyceprince.com/ you will find she offers other services as well.
|It's time to find Joyce and begin our cruise ship shore excursion.
|We found Joyce, so let the tour begin!
|Great view of the cruise ship from way up here.
|Joyce takes our
|picture of us picking guava berries or something
|picture of joyce our tour guide in St. Maarten. That's Joyce on the right.
|Adult photos - St. Maarten
|Street scenes images of St. Maarten
|photos of street scenes in St. Maarten
|Cruise review photos from the Princess Lines Caribbean cruise
|Kite flying St. Maarten Caribbean
|Joyce teaches us
|Great hot dogs
to be had here.
|The pirate ship some
of the group was on.
After our tour we
asked our guide Joyce to take us somewhere to buy some Hawaiian type shirts.
us to this wonderful store...they had just about everything you could ask for in a tourist stop. And the Prices
|A rack of tote bags.
|Oh how she loves
|Yes, she did buy this
|Anyone need a necklace?
|So much to buy...
So little money...
In the evening...
|Members of the cruise
critic group meeting
|We had so much fun.
|Lots of dancing
|Cruise review pictures from the Caribbean Princess
|Images of dancing on the Cruise Ship Caribbean Princess
|Cruise Critics group
members have more fun.
|Caribbean cruise photos - cruise critics everywhere you turn
|It's Me! Bill :)
|Newlyweds who were seated at our table
|Picture of newlyweds at our dinner table