We were in St. Maarten on 2/22 and had a booked the Rhino Boat excursion. There was about 14 others on the excursion, including us four and four other people that were on the CB. We headed out on the boats to our snorkeling destination at Happy Bay which is on the West side of St. Martin (French side). At this point, we were about an hour into the excursion and having a blast. Anyway, at Happy Bay, the guide tied all our boats together and said we could all put on our gear and go snorkeling. We were all tied together about 100 ft. or so from the beach. After about 5 minutes, my husband decided to jump in the water and coaxed our children to jump in as well. At this point, they were not wearing their gear, just testing the waters. No one else on the tour had left their boats yet. My husband said he would like to swim to shore with the kids and start them snorkeling in shallow waters so he jumped back in his boat to get his gear and my daughter jumped back on with him. My son stayed in the water right next to my boat.
Suddenly, I heard loud voices behind me so I turned around and there was a catamaran along side our tied up Rhino boats and the owner of the cat was yelling at our guide. He was speaking french so I don't know exactly what he was saying but he was pointing down the side of his cat and I gathered that he was thinking we scratched his boat. Our guide asked him to calm down. Next there appeared a woman on the cat who also proceeded to yell at us. The man disappeared below deck and came back up with a gun and pointed it directly at our guide and shouted in english, "I will shoot you!!" He then proceeded to point the gun at every one of us individually (including our children and another 15-year old boy in our group). He was yelling and waving the gun madly and proceeding to cock the gun. My daughter became so terrified that she screamed and jumped in the water and started swimming. I reached out of my boat and grabbed her by the life vest and held her and my son inbetween my boat and my husband's in the water with only their heads up and I sternly told them not to move or make a sound. I did not turn around again until we were able to get the heck out of there. I layed across my boat with my back exposed to the gunman shielding my children.
Our guide was quickly untying our boats at that time while at the same time talking very calmly to the gunman who was at this point not only still yelling and waving the gun at all of us but also screaming "Americans!!!!". The guide instructed me to put the kids in the boats and GO. I got my daughter on my boat and she was crying and trembling hysterically and I wanted to wait for my husband and son but they were still tied to our guide's boat. My husband waved me to GO GO GO. So I punched my boat full throttle and went quite a distance then stopped to look back. My husband and son were just starting to get away from the cat with the guide behind them. The man on the cat was still pointing his gun at us. We all kept on going and going until we were just about back to our starting point and we all gathered our boats together in the water and said so many prayers.
When back to our starting point, one of the men in our party wrote an official report that everyone, including the children, attested to and signed to which the owner of the boat company gave to the officials. Two men from the boat company went back out to the location to get the name of the catamaran because although we all saw the name of it (it was only 5-10 ft. away from us) none of us could remember it as we were all so terrified during the ordeal.
When back on the ship, we reported the incident to which we were told that the boat company had already called Princess and reported it. Of course we were given a full refund for the tour.
In conclusion I must say that our excursion guide acted in a very appropriate manner during the ordeal and his calm manner in his interaction with the crazed gun man saved our lives. We do not hold the boat company responsible. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were also told by multiple locals back at the Rhino boat company that something like this has never occured during all the years they have sponsored the tour and they were all very kind and extremely sympathetic with us.
In case you are wondering, we are all doing ok. The kids returned to the kids club on the ship for the next few days and I think the distraction was the best thing for them. We have talked with the kids extensively about the ordeal and they seem to be ok at this point in time, however, I am keeping an extra watchful eye on their behavior and praying they do not become emotionally scarred. I will just pray every night.