A most unique port in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean that has a dual personality and is often overlooked is Martinique. It sits between two bodies of water; the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Once departing the ship, at first glance, it appears that it is a part of France that has been deposited on a tropical island. Christopher Columbus discovered Martinique, as he did so with many other Caribbean islands, in the late 15th Century. The island’s inhabitants at the time, the Carib Indians, called the island Madinina, or “island of flowers.” Even Great Britain ruled the mountainous island in the past.
The area is filled with lush beauty and natural sights unseen in other parts. From a vibrant rainforest to a series of rolling hills, there’s always something to see here. Although the official language of the island is French, the locals speak the dialect of creole. The Euro is the choice of currency thus reflecting their European influence and culture.
PORT OF FORT DE FRANCE
The main port of Martinique is located in Fort de France. The Terminal is a mere five minutes away from the capital. Some ships dock away from the port but will tender passengers to the shore.
The port is small and there are number of duty-free shops scattered about. There are several ways to explore the diverse geography of this Caribbean gem. Taxis are pricey although convenient but you must agree a price with the driver before entering as they aren’t metered.
Buses are another good option and travel all through the city.
Bicycles and motor scooters can be rented by the hour and are another popular way to get around Martinique for cruise passengers.
Of course, the cruise ship tour desk can make all the arrangements for a visit to the places of interest.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
The standout of Martinique is the Salines Beach. This beach seems as though it has come out of a postcard with its white sand and crystal clear water. Scuba diving is also available whilst in port to experience the under-the-sea habitat of gorgeous tropical fish and other marine life.
For those with a historical thirst, head to the St. Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral has been a fixture of the location for many years, although it has had to go through six renovations. This is due to the wooden structure of the church falling apart; today, it is made out of iron. The governors of Martinique are buried here and you should visit the inordinate headstones.
Further historical sites can be found at the Schoelcher Library. It was originally constructed in Paris for the 1889 exposition. After the exposition, it was shipped to Martinique to serve as their library. Containing an enormous amount of books, the library was named after Victor Schoelcher, a slavery abolisher.
Work those legs amongst lush vistas at an elevation of 4,656 feet on Mount Pelée. Even the island’s “smaller” hills check in at around 1,500 feet. Whether it’s making a valiant attempt at scaling this volcano or gazing at the banana plantations of the base, there’s always something to get you moving.
The base also offers many different sporting activities such as canoeing and hiking through the trails. For those that are truly daring, rappel through beautiful waterfalls and vibrant forests.
Finally, finish the day off by witnessing the Balata Gardens. The gardens contain a collection of many different types of flora, including over 300 species of palm tree. Although you can’t bring a flower home or back on board the cruise ship, the pictures taken alone will be worth the visit and a memory maker of your day in port.
CRUISE LINES CALLING AT FORT DE FRANCE
The season for cruise holiday makers to see Martinique reaches into late spring and then begins again in late October. The following lines have ships calling at Fort de France in 2015:
Written by Veronica Shine