After staying at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort for a day in St. Maarten, this is my top pick for enjoying a pre-cruise or post-cruise stay when leaving from Philipsburg St. Maarten or Sint Martin on Celebrity Cruises. Read about our experience below but please note that the resort has since been updated after the hurricane swept through in 2017. It's now redesigned, modernized, and luxury-fied even more!
Where to stay in St. Maarten?
It's true. I've never been to an all-inclusive resort. But when planning our recent cruise vacation, as soon as I saw St. Maarten was a port of call on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, I knew I wanted to test out the turquoise blue waters at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa and visit for the day.
Although that led to another first for me. I am a big believer in doing only ship sponsored excursions. I get nervous that if I plan our own activity, the ship is not guaranteed to wait for us if we run late. But I was determined to see this resort that I've heard so much about, so I crossed my fingers and made our plans.
Based on availability, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort sells day passes and being all-inclusive, it's a terrific deal. Currently, for $89 per adult and $45 per child under 12 years of age, you have exclusive access to many amazing amenities.
Wherever you are arriving from, welcome to beautiful St. Maarten!
From the cruise port, follow signs for the taxi stands just a few steps away. There may be a line for a taxi since they typically wait for passengers to form a group. However, since we were going to the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and not to a general beach, we were quickly assigned to a taxi and we were off.
It was an easy thirty minute ride to the resort with breathtaking sightseeing all along the way. We were so excited when we saw the welcoming resort and first stepped inside.
The sprawling lobby is decorated in tropical tones and glass. I could have easily spent more time exploring, but we were only there for a few hours and we couldn't wait to see outside!
As soon as you walk out the back doors, you step into a beachfront tropical oasis.
Maho Beach is an extremely popular destination in St. Maarten since Princess Juliana International Airport is one of the most famous airports in the world. People come from all over to see the giant airplanes land on the runway right on the Caribbean's edge.
There are amazing views of airplanes taking off and landing from the decks surrounding the resort or from the gorgeous beaches on their property.
With so much to do, you are bound to get hungry throughout the day and there are so many options. Sit outside for dining service and fresh local specialties. Or try the delicious pizzeria where you can watch pizzas being made in a hot stone oven. A mouth-watering buffet with a wide assortment of salads, sandwiches, meats, and desserts is also available for breakfast and lunch.
Of course, I always head right for the sweets!
Did I mention they had unlimited drinks? These are my new favorite tropical drinks and they are delicious!
To make sure you stay hydrated in the Caribbean, chilled water coolers are strategically placed around the resort. You'll also find numerous bars to get beverages.
But for really cooling off, head over to the swimming pools! The new 4,000 square foot Aqua Park with sea life themed water slides is fantastic.
But they haven't left out the big kids. Splash under a waterfall...
...or enjoy the beautiful swimming pool with a swim up bar! Along with all of this, you'll get complimentary towels, chairs or loungers with shaded umbrellas, and can even participate in pool games and activities run by the fabulous Sonesta staff.
The Sonesta Maho Beach Resort truly is a special, tropical paradise even when you are visiting just for a day. Although if you are lucky enough to be staying for longer, here is a list from their website of all the incredible all-inclusive amenities they provide:
All Sonesta St Maarten resorts
All of this, and back on time to the ship! Here's what I learned:
Keep in mind, if you choose to arrange your own excursion the key is to allow plenty of time to get back to the ship. Even the Caribbean has a "rush hour". We encountered school buses with frequent stops and drawbridges that could decide to raise up before you have crossed over.
And instead of a rushed beach excursion purchased from the cruise line, we enjoyed a quiet beach, a gigantic pool and Aqua Park, gourmet dining, unlimited refreshing drinks, fresh towels, and wonderful, friendly staff who have become our friends.
I can't wait to turn these new experiences into familiar ones and visit Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in St. Maarten again. But for the time being, they will be cherished memories from our family cruise vacation.
Disclaimer: We were hosted for the day by Sonesta Maho Beach Resort. As always, all opinions are my own based on my own experiences.
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Thanks for cruising by! Along with creating this website and blog, I work in an office full-time and as a mom to two energetic teenage boys. With our family's busy work and school schedule, we look forward to traveling during holidays. Although it seems that our family can never agree on anything, we do when it comes to vacations. We typically travel on cruises or stay at luxury hotels. We enjoy upscale dining, beautiful decor, excellent service, and spacious accommodations. However, we still need family friendly and comfortable. When we are not traveling, I enjoy dining out locally, as well as cooking and baking in my own kitchen.
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