Why go to Martinique?
An upscale beach-lover's paradise
French is the primary language, so cruisers might find themselves less able to communicate
This French island offers a Caribbean vibe that's ideal for beach time and water sports
Martinique Cruise Port Facilities?
Both terminals offer restroom facilities and easy access to taxis. Most ships dock at the long pier terminal at Point Simone, located in downtown Fort-de-France. Simply walk off the pier and you'll have easy access to taxis, restaurants and shopping. A cruise village is set up on the waterfront on port days, with tented vendors selling everything from T-shirts and sarongs to local rum. Dedicated tourism representatives (easily identifiable by their red vests) are on hand to answer questions and offer directions, and the adjacent ferries can take cruisers to points more easily reached by sea than land.
Other ships dock at La Tourelles, the island's traditional cruise port, which is a 15-minute walk from downtown. It offers two duty-free shops and Wi-Fi, but otherwise there's not much going on in the immediate port area. Follow the walking path to reach the waterfront of Fort-de-France, or hire one of the plentiful taxis for other points.
Smaller ships may skip the larger cruise ports and anchor on a less-visited part of the island. Located on the southern tip of the island, La Marina Du Marin is the largest anchorage south of the Dominican Republic, and very popular for yacht charters and private boaters. This modern, chic facility is home to a multi-level shopping area with shops, restaurants, a wine bar, grocery store and apothecary, and free Wi-Fi.
Good to Know?
Be aware that roads on Martinique -- especially those that weave their way through the mountainous areas -- are astoundingly winding. If you're prone to nausea and plan to venture from the immediate port area, you'd be wise to pack your motion sickness remedy of choice.
Also note that topless bathing is common on many Martiniquan beaches.
On Foot: Fort-de-France itself is a walkable harbor front city. You can walk to the city from both terminals; just follow street signs pointing to "centre de ville."
By Taxi: Taxis are available at both the cruise terminal and in the city center. Note that public transportation can be tricky, as few drivers speak English and fares are in euros (the official currency of France). But when you opt for taxi service from your terminal, drivers generally are English-speakers, and you can often pay with U.S. currency or a credit card instead of euros.
By Bus: Martinique is launching TCSP express bus service that will run over reserved priority lanes between the pier at Pointe Simon cruise terminal, the Galleria shopping mall and Martinique Aime Cesaire International Airport. Each loop has multiple stops across the island, and bus service will run from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Buses are equipped for low-mobility passengers, and tickets can be purchased at automatic-ticket booths at stops, and via Mozaik booths in Fort-de-France. Current rates are 1.30 euros per rider, one way.
By Rental Car: Budget has an office at Martinique Aime Cesaire International Airport and another at Trois-Ilets, which is accessible by ferry from Fort-de-France. Be warned that road signage is in French, and roads are narrow and excessively winding.
By Ferry: Martinique has a robust ferry service, which leaves from the docks at Pointe Simon and offers trips to nearby locales, including Trois-Ilets/Pointe du Bout (about a 20-minute ride). Fares are in euros.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Euros are used on Martinique; dollars generally aren't accepted, except by a handful of taxi drivers near the terminal who cater specifically to cruise passengers. You'll find ATMs and an exchange bureau -- Change Caribe -- in Fort-de-France, just a short walk from the Pointe Simon terminal. (It's also walkable from La Tourelles, but it's a bit farther.) It can be difficult to find places to exchange dollars after you've left Fort-de-France, so if you're headed out to explore, secure some euros before you go. Visit www.xe.com for the most up-to-date exchange rates.