- a small island in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
When we got on the deck, our ship was already in the port of St. Maarten, near several other cruise ships.
First, we went to eat breakfast. You can have breakfast on the cruise either in the à-la-carte restaurant, located on decks 3 and 4, or at the buffet located on decks 9 and 10. There is also the option to dine in your cabin. We chose the second option.
Here are the upper decks (9 to 14) of our ship. There were not many people at the top because they were still sleeping, having breakfast or had already disembarked the ship. Our stop that day lasted until 4 p.m., according to the ship's time, which coincides with the US East Coast (Florida, from where we departed). Local time on the island was plus 1 hour.
Here is the top deck of the Carnival Liberty:
Today's stop was not a common one. During the previous stops, we went ashore with our children to visit the beaches to sunbathe and swim. It's the perfect leisure for small Caribbean islands. It was so during two previous stops on the islands of Grand Turk and St. Thomas, but not today. Why? You'll find out soon.
Today we decided to go ashore without our children. We left them at the mini-club onboard with the other passengers' children. A quick side not, the mini-club aboard this liner was very good. The club's program begins at 8 a.m. (sometimes at 7) and continues until 10 p.m., and it is for children aged 2 to 14. Our children attended the "middle" group, for ages 6 to 8. Mini-club service is free. The animators there were from different countries, mainly from the countries of former Yugoslavia, but there was even one girl from Belarus :).
The island is very small. You can easily drive around it in a couple of hours. It is divided into two parts: the northern part is called St. Martin and is an overseas territory of France, and the southern part is called St. Maarten and belongs to the Netherlands.
The borders between the different parts of the island are different, but you can clearly see the Dutch and French parts, even by the cars' license plates and cell phone carriers. It was interesting that license plates on the French side of the island are the same as in France: with the blue logo of the European Union and the prefix "F". French cell phone carriers provided roaming services that are the same as in France - just 0.05 Euros per minute for incoming calls.
We had a particular plan for St. Maarten: we wanted to visit a well-defined place, unique to the island;
he beach is located near the international airport of St. Maarten. You can see pictures from this beach throughout the internet, with huge airliners landing literally just over the heads of swimming vacationers.
To get to Maho Beach, we went to the taxi stand.
For $8 per person, and in 30 minutes, the bus will take visitors along the scenic road to Maho Beach.
Maho Beach is a very small beach in the southwestern part of the island. Its length is equal to the width of the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport. On both sides of the beach, there are bars where you can enjoy refreshing and strong drinks, and where you can see the impromptu stand with arrival times of planes that will fly over your head.
This stand doesn't show all arriving aircrafts, only the largest ones. Besides them, small propeller planes, as well as small private planes, flew over our heads every 10-15 minutes. That's why people on Maho Beach mainly sunbathe while standing; to see and capture the incoming aircrafts.
Sharp eyes can discern the approaching plane 5 minutes before it lands, which sometimes allows enough time to get out of the water and grab your camera. The small airplanes appeared there, in the distance.
There was absolutely nothing for children on the beach, except the crystal clear, emerald green water. Not only do planes fly over the beach every few minutes, powerful blasts of air and engine sounds only a few meters above our heads, but the beach itself is very small and narrow. The shore is also quite steep. Entering the water by just a few feet and the water already reaches your chest (for an adult). Finally, after the planes fly over the beach, the wind blast from the jets is accompanied by impressive wave, often more than one. That aspect will not be pleasant for children, especially those who don't how to swim well yet . . .
And we, in the intervals between aircraft arrivals, were enjoying the pleasant water.
Departing aircrafts, moving away from the airport terminal, drove almost to the beach, turned around and rapidly flew away. And in that moment, when their jet engines switched to takeoff mode, people in the middle of the beach were literally blown away, by the powerful air flow, into the sea along with their towels and other belongings.
Here's a small plane from the local airlines, coming in for landing:
And here's a larger aircraft, from American Airlines, coming from Miami.
We decided to wait for the biggest arriving aircraft for that day - the Airbus A340 of Air France, from Paris.
Finally, a fast approaching spot appeared in the distance. It was a handsome A340. The roar was indescribable. The plane almost touched the people gathered on the beach, with the landing gear legs.
It can be clearly seen in the video, even though it does not convey the feelings . . .
After watching the arrival of the plane, we jumped in a taxi and returned to port. There was one hour and a half left before the departure of Carnival Liberty.
Before boarding the ship, we had some cocktails made by this local man: