Embark on a wonderfully varied small ship cruise to the lesser-traveled islands of the Caribban. Active options during this journey include diving and snorkeling in clear waters as you search for colorful marine life amid vibrant coral. A wonderful cruise staff and expedition team are ready to welcome you with on-board and on-shore lectures throughout the itinerary. Travel from Martinique to St. Martin, savoring the beauty and serenity of these Caribbean islands.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Day 1, Nov 25, 2018
Depart USA / Martinique
Board your independent flight to Martinique. Upon arrival, transfer to Le Cap Est Lagoon for dinner and overnight.
Day 2, Nov 26, 2018
Martinique / Embark Le Ponant
Martinique is home to a fascinating and dynamic mélange of French traditions and Caribbean Creole culture. Birders depart early for Presquile Caravelle National Park to search for such island endemics as the Martinique oriole and white-breasted thrasher. Or, choose to visit Balata Church, a miniature version of the Basilica Montmartre in Paris, then continue to Domine d’Emeraude, a botanical garden and interpretive center devoted to the island’s natural history. After lunch at a local restaurant, take a short drive through the ruins of St. Pierre, which was destroyed in 1902 during a massive volcanic eruption. The tour ends in Fort-de-France with a visit to the fascinating Pre-Columbian Museum. Board Le Ponant this afternoon.
Day 3, Nov 27, 2018
St. Vincent, Grenadines
The main island of the Grenadines, volcanic St. Vincent offers beautiful white-sand beaches, lushly forested interiors, and excellent snorkeling and diving. Birders take a walk along the Vermont Nature Trail passing through the southwestern tip of the St. Vincent Parrot Reserve, where you can hope to spot this colorful endemic bird. A cultural tour takes in the old-world charm of Kingstown, St. Vincent’s historic capital. Enjoy stunning views of the town and the southern Grenadines from the ramparts of Fort Charlotte, built in 1806, and visit the oldest botanical gardens in the western hemisphere.
Day 4, Nov 28, 2018
St. George, the quaint, bustling capital of Grenada, sits on a supremely scenic horseshoe-shaped bay. Wander through the maze of narrow streets to admire colorful colonial buildings, forts, and churches. Enjoy a hike along densely forested trails to view an idyllic waterfall.
Day 5, Nov 29, 2018
These five small, uninhabited islands are part of Tobago Cays Marine Park. With pristine coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and deserted white-sand beaches, this area is renowned for some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean with vertical and gently sloping walls, and multiple wrecks.
Day 6, Nov 30, 2018
Be on deck as the ship approaches St. Lucia for stunning views of the Pitons, two volcanic peaks rising more than 2,400 feet from the turquoise sea. Birders seek the St. Lucia parrot, St. Lucia oriole, and St. Lucia pewee. Take a hike through Edmund Forest Reserve, or choose a tour that visits the Diamond Falls botanical garden, a mineral bath, and a cocoa plantation.
Day 7, Dec 1, 2018
Birders depart early for a hike to Syndicate Falls to search for Dominica’s two endemic and endangered birds—imperial and red-necked parrots. A historic tour explores Fort Shirley, built by the British between 1770 and 1815. Both groups return to the ship for lunch with an afternoon of snorkeling or diving in a marine protected area. Or, choose a full-day cultural tour of Carib Territory, a reserve where approximately 3,000 native Kalinago reside. Learn about their customs, history, and culture, with the chance to view exquisite handicrafts, including baskets, wood carvings, and canoes.
Day 8, Dec 2, 2018
Towering 3,000 feet above sea level, Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills Volcano slumbered uneasily for at least a century before erupting violently in 1995. Covering the capital city of Plymouth with pyroclastic flows, the southern two-thirds of the island are still off limits. Learn more about this devastating event at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory and enjoy grand views of the volcano and surrounding areas. Take a hike in the Centre Hills, home to over 30 species of birds, including the Montserrat oriole, green-throated Carib, brown trembler, forest thrush, and bridled quail-dove.
Day 9, Dec 3, 2018
Barbuda / Antigua
Popular with the yachting set, Barbuda boasts pretty pink beaches and an easygoing attitude. It is also home to a large magnificent frigatebird colony. Other species you are likely to find here include tropical mockingbirds, pelicans, ibis, oystercatchers, herons, a variety of ducks, and the endemic Barbuda warbler. After lunch on board, step ashore on Antigua for a scenic drive along the coast to Dow’s Hill to learn about the island’s history and enjoy splendid views over the island. Continue to Shirley’s Heights, a restored military lookout with fantastic views over English Harbor. Your tour ends at Nelson’s Dockyard where you have free time to browse the shops, tour the small museum, and perhaps dine on your own at one of the many seaside restaurants.
Day 10, Dec 4, 2018
Take a stroll around the sole town and capital, Oranjestad, with its collection of Caribbean-style cottages and elegant colonial buildings in various states of disrepair. Soak up history and sweeping views from the extensively restored Fort Oranje, a mighty citadel complete with cannons, triple bastions, and cobblestone parade grounds. Or, hike to the top of the Quill, a dormant volcano with a lush cloud forest occupying the crater.
Day 11, Dec 5, 2018
Saba / St. Barth's
Saba’s volcanic peak rises majestically from the water like the tip of an emerald iceberg. In Saba Marine Park, protected since 1987, divers explore volcanic pinnacles encrusted with corals and sponges, which are frequented by nurse sharks, parrotfish, barracuda, sharks, stingrays, and turtles. Land-based explorations include a hike along the Crispeen Trail for fantastic views over the island. In the afternoon, step ashore on St. Barth’s, take a stroll through Gustavia, the relaxed capital, and visit the 17th-century forts, or browse the town’s many duty-free boutiques. View marine life while staying dry during a thrilling ride in the Yellow Submarine. Or, take a hike along the Colmbier Beach Trail, where there is a good chance to see nesting red-billed tropicbirds.
Day 12, Dec 6, 2018
St. Martin / Disembark / USA
Disembark and enjoy a short island tour en route to the airport. Board your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.