If you are headed to the Southern Caribbean, be aware that ongoing strike activity in Martinique and Guadeloupe is impacting cruise calls. According to Travelweekly.co.uk, islanders have been protesting for three weeks about dipping wages and the soaring cost of living. The protests have become violent, causing several hotels to close -- and cruise lines to change their plans.
Azamara, Royal Caribbean and Holland America have been impacted this week. According to Travelweekly.co.uk, Azamara Journey, scheduled to call at Martinique today and Guadeloupe tomorrow, is sailing an amended itinerary (though we have not yet received confirmation from the line regarding replacement ports).
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean has confirmed that Vision of the Seas called at Antigua yesterday and St. Kitts today -- in lieu of Guadeloupe and Martinique, respectively. And a Holland America spokesman tells us that Noordam called at Dominica today instead of Martinique; cruise passengers with tours received refunds.
P&O Cruises' Ventura skipped a scheduled stop at Martinique last Wednesday, as well. Costa Atlantica is due to call in Guadeloupe on Saturday, but we have not yet been informed of any changes.
The U.S. Department of State issued a travel alert on February 13, advising U.S. citizens planning to travel to Guadeloupe and Martinique to "stay current with media coverage of local events, and be aware of their surroundings at all times." The U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office similarly advises visitors to avoid demonstration areas -- and purchase travel insurance. Neither has advised outright against travel there at this point.
"Guadeloupe and Martinique have experienced ongoing general strikes and protests, by workers seeking better wages," Royal Caribbean spokesman Michael Sheehan tells us. "Most major commercial centers, shops, gas stations and businesses remain closed. Public transportation also is being affected. Additionally, striking workers are staging demonstrations in Pointe a Pitre [Guadeloupe] and Fort de France [Martinique], closing roadways and blocking traffic."
Despite the fact that cruise lines have opted not to visit, an official statement from the Martinique Promotion Bureau says "all tourism facilities are operating." A spokesperson for Guadeloupe did not immediately respond to our request for more information.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor, and Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor
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Southern Caribbean Strikes Impact Cruise Calls
February 21, 2009