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Cruises to Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon (Photo: Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock)

About Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

Located at the mouth of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon (for convenience, referred to as SPM), is a self-governing territorial overseas collectivity of France. An archipelago, it consists of several islands; Saint-Pierre is the only island visited by cruise ships. Miquelon-Langlade is known for its nature activities and Ile aux Marins (Island of Sailors) makes a perfect day trip for cruise passengers.

Although just 12 miles distant from Newfoundland, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon's culture is oceans apart. The most western of the French possessions, SPM maintains its French heritage. The SPM flag pays tribute to those who settled the islands: Basque whalers and Briton and Norman fishermen. Fishing remains a major component of the island's industry.

During Prohibition, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon operated a rum-running operation, greatly benefiting the residents who concentrated on this endeavor, allowing their less profitable cod-fishing operations to dwindle. Many improvements to the infrastructure of the island were made during these prosperous times. Once Prohibition was repealed, the cod-fishing trade re-established itself, with some of the fishermen having to relearn the requisite skills that had been lost to the rum-running trade.

At just 25 square kilometers (less than 10 square miles), the island is easy to navigate. The downtown area consists of colorful buildings, including traditional homes, which have a distinctive airlock entry called a tambour. Walking about town gives a glimpse into the French way of life. Everything here is French: the language, the culture, the architecture; even the welcome pastries at the tourism bureau. The French influence pervades, but Basque names and games, like pelota, exist. At La Place Richard Briand, a colorful wall used for playing pelota called Le Fronton Zazpiak-Bat, is the oldest such wall in North America.

The pace is slow on the island, and the setting outstanding. A stroll along the water's edge passes the dories (boats used by fishermen). Les Zigotos, a group dedicated to the preservation of the dory, focus on keeping the tradition alive, restoring the boats and also offering fishing trips.

A quick taxi ride or a short hike leads to several overlooks, which give a view of the town and the surrounding sea and islands.

More about Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

Why go to Saint-Pierre et Miquelon?

Pros: Authentic French island with great scenery and history.

Cons: Weather can be rainy, windy and foggy, hiding some of the beauty of the island.

Bottom Line: No need to head all the way to France for a taste of France.

Saint-Pierre et Miquelon Cruise Port Facilities

There are basically two options for docking here. Large ships will dock alongside the Deep Water Pier, which is just over a half-mile walk to the downtown area. When ships are in port, the tourism bureau offers music, French pastries, coffee and brochures. At the in-town pier, Roselys, cruisers are welcomed with maps and city info. Should there be the rare necessity for a tender, cruisers will arrive near the fishing sheds just a few blocks from downtown. They will also be welcomed by the tourism agency.

Good to Know

SPM has about 140 days of rain per year, often accompanied by fog and wind; awareness is essential.

Also, keeping track of time with a cellphone can be risky. The proximity to another time zone means that the earlier time might be picked up, automatically resetting the clock on your phone. (This is more likely to happen on Ile aux Marins.) A manual phone time setting or a mechanical timepiece eliminates the confusion and reduces the possibility of missing the ship's all-aboard time.

Most shops close between noon and 2 p.m., although a few will remain open all day when ships are in port. Restaurants remain open for lunch. The tourism office (Place du General de Gaulle), in addition to the aforementioned complimentary French pastries and coffee, offers free Wi-Fi and information about the island, including menus from restaurants.

Getting Around

On Foot: Saint-Pierre is quite compact and the downtown area is easily walkable.

By Taxi: Taxis are available and cost 5 euros within the downtown area and 7 euros beyond.

By Ferry: To reach Ile aux Marins, the ferry is the only option. (The ferry company, BPE desserte, is at 12, rue Pierre Perrin, near the tourism bureau.)

By Shuttle: Some cruise lines offer shuttles, cost varies by ship.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

As in France, the currency on SPM is the euro. There are three ATMs in the downtown area of Saint-Pierre. The local bank does NOT exchange money. Although a few merchants accept Canadian -- and even fewer, American -- dollars, it's best to carry euros or use a credit card. Mastercard and Visa are accepted; American Express and debit cards are not.

Language

Being part of France, the local language in Saint-Pierre et Michelon is French. Some people also speak English.


Saint-Pierre et Miquelon Cruise Reviews

Crystal Symphony
JC Norton
Sail Date: Oct 2018
We stayed on the ship, but enjoyed the view of the fishing village and rock formations....Read More
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