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SXM Airport Departure MESS


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23 hours ago, silkismom said:

If I have to stand in the heat for more than 30 min, they will be carrying me off on a stretcher. Not only will my hips/legs/knees/back give out, the heat will get me. I'm waiting to hear if my kitty sitter can come in Sept, if so, I'm changing to Alaska. This cruise sounded so great when we booked the day it opened in Mar, now after having several 85+ days, w/o much humidity, my body says NOOOOO.

 

Due to what appears to be overall airport capacity limits unrelated to Covid, as long as you don't arrive any earlier than 3 hours you won't need to wait outside.  Knowledge is gained for all who read OPs post.

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thanks for this thead and 1st  hand info. i feel bad for any of the guinea pigs out there that went/will be going thru all this. i'm super happy i never tried to get on one of the first cruises. 

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5 hours ago, NutsAboutGolf said:

 

Due to what appears to be overall airport capacity limits unrelated to Covid, as long as you don't arrive any earlier than 3 hours you won't need to wait outside.  Knowledge is gained for all who read OPs post.

The sticky point is that the airport transfer that Celebrity sold us was supposed to get to the airport at 12:00 but it was cut short and got there at 10:30. And since we did not purchase St Maarten's insurance policy for people who weren't going straight from the ship to the airport, we were not allowed to go anywhere on our own, just on ship tours.

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13 hours ago, tallyho8 said:

The sticky point is that the airport transfer that Celebrity sold us was supposed to get to the airport at 12:00 but it was cut short and got there at 10:30. And since we did not purchase St Maarten's insurance policy for people who weren't going straight from the ship to the airport, we were not allowed to go anywhere on our own, just on ship tours.

Do you know why the "tour" ended soon?  Have been on bus tours where some people wanted the bus ride to end.  Once it was one of couple who hated bus tours but the spouse had booked it.  Another was not wanting to use the bus or public restrooms.  Both times others joined in with the squeaky wheel.  Can actually only think of a couple of tours that people did not complain most of the time that they disliked the bus ride.  Maybe it was assumed that the airport would allow them into a nice waiting area and out of the bus ride.

 

Anyway, it sounds a mess and good reminder to do research and always be prepared.

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, happy cruzer said:

Do you know why the "tour" ended soon?  Have been on bus tours where some people wanted the bus ride to end.  Once it was one of couple who hated bus tours but the spouse had booked it.  Another was not wanting to use the bus or public restrooms.  Both times others joined in with the squeaky wheel.  Can actually only think of a couple of tours that people did not complain most of the time that they disliked the bus ride.  Maybe it was assumed that the airport would allow them into a nice waiting area and out of the bus ride.

 

Anyway, it sounds a mess and good reminder to do research and always be prepared.

 

 

 

 

I was right up front by the driver and guide and no one wanted to stop early. There were many people complaining about going to the airport early and the driver stopped and they phoned Celebrity to ask what to do and they were told to just go to the airport. Doing research would not have helped us in this instance because we were given false information by Celebrity and there were no cruises before us to inform us of this situation.

 

Now we know. If you book the airport transfer tour be sure to bring a chair, umbrella, solar powered portable air conditioner and an ice chest full of drinks and maybe a porta-potty.

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On 6/16/2021 at 8:53 PM, tallyho8 said:

The sticky point is that the airport transfer that Celebrity sold us was supposed to get to the airport at 12:00 but it was cut short and got there at 10:30. And since we did not purchase St Maarten's insurance policy for people who weren't going straight from the ship to the airport, we were not allowed to go anywhere on our own, just on ship tours.

 

Thanks for sharing, this is new information.  How much is the insurance?

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The description says you can shop and get something to eat in Marigot.  I'm wondering if there wasn't a new rule on the French side that they didn't want you out and about over there?

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$30 for insurance in St. Martin, that’s the way to go.   Relax at a hotel or restaurant then get to the airport just a couple of hours before departure.   I would also be one of the last passengers to leave the ship.

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On 6/13/2021 at 12:58 PM, cruisingator2 said:


Passengers were arriving in St. Maarten at different times and it’s a totally different scenario with everyone leaving a ship and arriving at a small airport at basically the same time. Other than San Juan most of the Caribbean islands are not equipped to handle large crowds at once. Thank goodness this was not a full ship. Not an excuse for the airport or the employees but clearly Celebrity needs to be more involved here.

I had to laugh at you citing San Juan.  In over 70 cruises, my worst experience in disembarking a ship was in San Juan.  To be short, it was a total disaster. 

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On 6/13/2021 at 5:28 PM, LibraryLaura said:

What sort of form did you need to go with your test results?

Leaving on 7/3 and want to be Prepared with the forms. Was it an Attestation form?

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It is unfortunate that those anxious to cruise did not anticipate how challenged St. Maarten would be to accommodate the post-cruise crunch.  When my husband and I heard they were going to cruise out of St. Maarten, we looked at each other wide-eyed and shook our heads. "No way will that island be suddenly able to handle that kind of incoming and outgoing crowd!" was our thinking.  Port Everglades and the Port of Miami have years of experience and far more infrastructure than St. Maarten, and yet the process of getting in and out of the port is still almost enough to suck all the relaxation out of your lovely cruise vacation (and double that if you need to drop off or pick up a rental car).  It sounds like there are kinks that may be able to be smoothed out down in St. Maarten and perhaps there's a bit more that Celebrity can do to help, but I'm guessing there may have been some overconfidence involved and well-intentioned but impossible-to-fulfill promises made by the local tourism folks who were anxious to bring tourism dollars back to the island.  As much as we enjoy Celebrity, we figured we'd probably have to look for a new cruise line if they found it was cheaper to go out of St. Maarten decided to move operations there and forego Florida for the long term.  We enjoy St. Maarten as a port stop, but we don't consider it a reasonable embarkation point. 

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4 hours ago, SunsetPoint said:

As much as we enjoy Celebrity, we figured we'd probably have to look for a new cruise line if they found it was cheaper to go out of St. Maarten decided to move operations there and forego Florida for the long term.

 

I don't think Celebrity (or any other cruise line) is thinking about moving out of a USA home-port to a Caribbean island home-port on a long term basis, for all the reasons you mention and others.  I think this is a short-term measure designed to take some baby steps back to cruising, and also see what works (and doesn't) while we are still in a pandemic. 

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We  flew yesterday from Saint Maarten. Thanks to the boards here we knew not to go to the airport early for our 4:30 flight. We tried to get a day room but there were none available. The Holland House will let you use their facilities and even lock your luggage but if we went to the beach I would want to take a  shower.  When we picked up our luggage we  asked our porter to see if he could find a driver to take us around the island until 1:30pm. We had a lovely morning touring the island, seeing  lovely beaches and lunch in Margot. At 1:30 she took us to the airport and the line was wrapped around the   building. I asked our driver to take us for another hour. We returned at 2:30pm. We only had to wait outside for 1/2 hour and another 1/2 inside.

Outside if you had an earlier flight, the attendents would allow them to jump the line.

It was a madhouse , you would led into one huge room.

 

I would try to minumize your time at the airport. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, alexkrn46 said:

We  flew yesterday from Saint Maarten. Thanks to the boards here we knew not to go to the airport early for our 4:30 flight. We tried to get a day room but there were none available. The Holland House will let you use their facilities and even lock your luggage but if we went to the beach I would want to take a  shower.  When we picked up our luggage we  asked our porter to see if he could find a driver to take us around the island until 1:30pm. We had a lovely morning touring the island, seeing  lovely beaches and lunch in Margot. At 1:30 she took us to the airport and the line was wrapped around the   building. I asked our driver to take us for another hour. We returned at 2:30pm. We only had to wait outside for 1/2 hour and another 1/2 inside.

Outside if you had an earlier flight, the attendents would allow them to jump the line.

It was a madhouse , you would led into one huge room.

 

I would try to minumize your time at the airport.

If you have independent transportation (i.e., not Celebrity transfers), do you have any choice of debarkation times/groups? 

 

It's been a while since I've cruised Celebrity, but I'm thinking of Royal's process (at least pre-COVID) where you register early in the week for the approximate debarkation time you want.

 

I'll be taking a taxi to SXM for a 12:42 departure so am trying to time debarkation to get to SXM in time not to have to wait in the line of people who are too early to get in.  Was it still 3 hours before your flight for the cutoff to get into the terminal?  If the line was still around the building at that point it sounds like a might need to try for closer to 2 hours.

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On 6/15/2021 at 6:37 PM, NutsAboutGolf said:

 

The solution is to not arrive to the airport any earlier than 3 hours.  If it were me, since it's a tiny airport I'd try to arrive 90mins before my flight.

 

On 6/15/2021 at 7:55 PM, DallasGuy75219 said:

That's cutting it very close to most airlines' minimum check-in times for international flights, especially with the enormous line to get inside the airport after everyone debarks the ship.

 

Absolutely correct.  AA cutoff time at SXM is 1 hour before flight departure.  Anything closer and you won't be checked in for your flight.

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On 6/13/2021 at 5:54 PM, Matman1215 said:

The main thing I was irritated by was there was no TSA pre-check line, so I had to dig my laptop out of the bottom of my carryon and take my shoes off (which are extremely minor annoyances in my mind). 

 

Why would you expect a TSA Pre-Check line at SXM?  TSA is a USA government agency, and only operates at USA airports.  At SXM, you operate under the rules of the St Maarten goverment and their security protocols.

 

 

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On 6/14/2021 at 6:28 AM, JFontaine said:

The fault in part rests with Celebrity, not just because of the short tour but because they should've known the airport was not equipped for this crowd. They should have gotten the forms right, had people there for crowd control, had a luggage valet program, and provided a safe place for people to wait. The airport doesn't have the resources to get this right, but Celebrity does. 

 

When you are at an airport, you are subject to the rules and procedures of that airport.  Celebrity (or any outside company) can't just establish their own "crowd control".  Nor can they just have a luggage valet program -- that needs to be established within the regulations of the applicable airport.

 

Not being a cruiseline cheerleader, but recognize what is in the control of companies and what is in the control of government agencies. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, FlyerTalker said:

 

Why would you expect a TSA Pre-Check line at SXM?  TSA is a USA government agency, and only operates at USA airports.  At SXM, you operate under the rules of the St Maarten goverment and their security protocols.

ft - surely you jest! I thought, after all these years of traveling internationally, that what we encountered and expect while traveling 'wholly' within the U.S., applied worldwide...

 

Dang, I have to change my expectations you are saying? What a let down, not sure I can accept that.

 

How are we expected to handle this situation?

 

😎

 

Thank you and bon voyage

Edited by Bo1953
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On 6/18/2021 at 6:59 PM, gone2c said:

I had to laugh at you citing San Juan.  In over 70 cruises, my worst experience in disembarking a ship was in San Juan.  To be short, it was a total disaster. 


And we had the complete opposite with debarking and flying out of San Juan. I have had far worse issues with FLL and MIA. 

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16 hours ago, DallasGuy75219 said:

If you have independent transportation (i.e., not Celebrity transfers), do you have any choice of debarkation times/groups? 

 

It's been a while since I've cruised Celebrity, but I'm thinking of Royal's process (at least pre-COVID) where you register early in the week for the approximate debarkation time you want.

 

 

We aimed to be the  last off due to our late departure, we waited for them to call last call.  The were assigning departure times, we used an independent taxi driver. No need to geet their early since they will pulll people with earlier flights  out of line

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