Martinique is a French island in the Antilles that will take your breath away. The northern part of the island is a trekker’s paradise of mountains, luscious rainforests and waterfalls. It’s dominated by the dramatic peak of volcanic Mont Pelée which last erupted in 1902, destroying the nearby capital, Saint-Pierre. You can still visit the ruins and dive down to the shipwrecks that occurred during the explosion.
In the south you’ll find the island’s best beaches. They’re all enchanting, ranging from secluded white-sand bays to striking swathes of black sand. Meanwhile, the towns and cities across the island are renowned for their floral gardens, friendly atmosphere and delicious cuisine.
Popular Ports in Martinique
Almost all cruise ships dock in the inviting capital, Fort-de-France. It’s a city that perfectly embodies Martinique’s fusion of French and Caribbean culture. Soak up the Caribbean sun as you sip a ti punch – a mixture of sugar cane syrup, rum and lemon – then shop for clothes in French boutiques. One of the town’s historic landmarks, the Schoelcher Library, was even shipped over in pieces from France.
The highlight of a Fort-de-France cruise is a trip to the Covered Market. The bustling stalls are piled high with tropical fruits and spices grown in the region. You can also pick up local handicrafts and herbal tonics for all sorts of ailments. Inside the market you’ll find several restaurants selling tasty local dishes.
Cruise ships occasionally dock in the tender port of Le Marin, a small fishing town on the south coast. The large marina is often filled with sleek yachts and the whitewashed buildings of the town exude sophistication. Restaurants and bars attracting a hip young crowd line the waterfront. Tuck into some fresh seafood as you watch the boats come and go.
Le Marin is surrounded by the island’s best beaches. La Pointe Marin is a bay of coconut-white sand, lapped by turquoise waters and fringed with palm trees. It’s calm waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling and there are several cafés where you can purchase refreshments.
What are the best cruise ships for a Martinique cruise?
Martinique is a popular cruising destination and here are two highly recommended ships that visit its shores:
Go on a journey of discovery on the streamlined Marella Explorer, renowned for her state-of-the-art facilities. There are so many family-friendly activities on offer, from pool parties to an indoor cinema and a Sport & Family Deck. Drop the younger ones off at the Kids’ Club and kick back with a drink at The Veranda, an adults-only sun deck with panoramic ocean views. There’s also a fabulous spa with 11 different places to relax, including an area exclusively for couples. You’ll be impressed by the amazing array of culinary options available, from sushi to pizza, Mediterranean tapas to Asian curries 0 – you can eat food from all corners of the globe.
The chic Queen Victoria is one of Cunard’s most luxurious ships. The Royal Spa offers a range of treatments alongside saunas and therapy pools. On a hot day, the two on-deck pools beckon. Keeping fit couldn’t be easier either with a series of yoga, pilates and other fitness classes on offer. There’s lots of evening entertainment too, including the lavish Royal Court Theatre, designed like a classical opera house. You can even rent a private box for a more intimate experience. You’ll love the wide range of food choices, from pub grub at Golden Lion Pub to Mexican cuisine at Lido Restaurant.
Shore Excursion Ideas
Make the most of your Martinique cruise by exploring on land and sea. Here are three of the most popular shore excursions on offer.
Snorkelling and beach break
Discover Martinique’s tropical underwater world on this excursion to two scenic snorkelling sites. You’ll travel by boat to the palm tree-fringed sands of Anse Dufour and will explore the waters offshore. Look out for unusual coral formations and anemones clinging to the rocks. You might even catch sight of a sea turtle.
Once you’ve finished exploring, it’s onward to the Bat Cave, which is accessible only by boat. As the name suggests it’s home to several bats. However, under the water you’ll discover vivid shoals of tropical fish with luminescent parrot fish among them.
Trip to Saint-Pierre and Rum Distillery
Get to know the island on this fascinating tour. You’ll stop first at Balata church, a scaled-down replica of the white-domed Sacré-Coeur in Paris. Next you’ll learn about the island’s history with a boozy twist, by visiting a rum distillery. There’ll be a tour and a tasting celebration.
Next up is Saint-Pierre, the Caribbean equivalent of Pompeii. More than 30,000 people died during the volcanic eruption here. You’ll visit a museum that reconstructs the disaster, and tells of lucky escapes. The final stop is Le Carbet, a fishing village where Christopher Columbus landed in 1502.
Kayaking through mangroves
If you’ve spent a large part of your Caribbean cruise sunning and swimming, you might like to do something more active. You’ll travel to a nearby islet to grab your kayaks. After a safety briefing you’ll paddle off into the mangroves.
Drift through shady clusters of red and black mangroves and keep a look out for crabs and birds, such as egrets and herons. After the trip cool off with a glass of fruit juice or a dip in the ocean.
Top ports of call in this destination
- Le Marin