By clicking “Accept all Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.Accept All
7 Nights aboard Silver Dawn
23 Feb 2024
23 Feb 2024
With its heady mix of Creole culture and French sophistication, there is more than a pinch of je ne sais quoi in Fort de France. The capital of Martinique, and by far the biggest city in the whole of the French West Indies, if you are looking for Paris in the Caribbean, you’ll find it in Fort de France. The island has been under French govern since 1638 when the first governor of Martinique Jacques Dyel du Parquet commissioned a fort (from which the city takes its name) to keep out invaders. Not even an unsuccessful attack by the British in 1720, nor the French Revolution in 1789, has been able to shake the French govern of the island and today the city’s French and Creole heritage are impossible to untangle. The colonial past is everywhere, take a stroll down the narrow streets and enjoy the remarkable architecture of the Schœlcher Library, St. Louis Cathedral and the Old Town Hall. Among the many legacies Dyel du Parquet left on the island is sugarcane. A drive through the tropical forests will not only reward you with trees bending under the weight of papayas, mangoes and bananas, but will also afford superb vistas of the elegant plant swaying in the breeze. The arrival and subsequent export of sugar brought the French bourgeoisie in their droves and many of their mansions are still standing. Josephine de Beauharnais, the Napoleonic Empress of “not tonight” fame, hails from the island and those interested will find her childhood home, La Pagerie in nearby Trois Ilets.
The steep, spectacular hills that surround St Thomas’s exquisite harbour provide a fitting entry point for this island of overwhelming natural splendour. The jungled-mountains reach up above tempting beaches and scuba diving sites, while Charlotte Amalie – the island’s capital – sprawls down towards the water, bedecked with shops and tasty restaurants. Part of the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands – together with St John and St Croix – these lands were purchased by the US in 1917. View less Nowadays, St Thomas is a patchwork of cultures, and a lively welcome to the islands, serving as a gracious host to the many visitors who linger – as well as those who jump on ferries, yachts and catamarans to explore the blessed beaches of the Caribbean’s other retreats. A stunning island of dramatic jungled-scenery, keep your camera close to hand as you swing up the Skyride to Paradise Point, to look down over the natural amphitheatre of the dock and city below. Snap some more postcard-perfect shots at Drake’s Seat – said to be Sir Francis Drake’s lookout point, where he could survey for approaching enemy ships. Nowadays, the views over Magens Bay and the infinite sea are always peaceful, and this is a great spot to catch a fiery Caribbean sunset spilling across the sky. Take catamaran cruises to explore the shining coastline, or seek out the glorious coves and caves that are hidden along the island’s perimeter. Land on the secluded shores of tiny islands, before scuba diving and snorkelling above the twisted boughs of lost ships, reclaimed by the waters and inhabited by curious tropical fish life. Kayak over still lagoon waters, or take the chance to lay back on soft beaches strewn with tiny shells, as St Thomas’s beauty washes over you.
Offering an island bounty of electric-blue Caribbean Sea waters, sensational scuba diving, and elevated viewpoints, Philipsburg revels in Caribbean beauty. St. Maarten is an unusual island of dual personality – partitioned into French and Dutch sides. Discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second journey to the Americas in 1493. A truce was eventually brokered in 1648, sharing the island between the French and Dutch – an arrangement that endures today. View less A Caribbean mirage of soft sand beaches and perfect snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities – arrive on the south of this beautiful island at the Dutch side’s capital, Philipsburg. Squeezed between the bay and the Great Salt Pond, the town offers waterfront strolls in the gentle breeze, duty-free bargains, and plenty of room to sit and drink in the dazzling sea views. Clear, turquoise waters hold underwater worlds of colourful corals and fish, while glorious beaches of typical Caribbean beauty invite you to sprawl out beside the tempting shallow waters. Look out to see occasional jet skis skirting the waters, as you recline on sand flanked by lush vegetation on both sides. Tear into the fresh local produce and taste the island’s sensational seafood – from lobster to red snapper and conch cocktails. Don’t miss the opportunity to try out the island’s favourite tipple, either – guavaberry rum. Beautiful green peaks offer stunning hikes, amid the rich tangle of jungle scenery. Maho Beach may also be on the radar – the tranquillity of this small beach is regularly interrupted by the deafening roar of jet engines, as Princess Juliana International Airport’s runway comes perilously close to the sands. Huge planes skim just above the beach before touching down, and the blasts of departing jet engines blow violent gales out towards the waters.
The archipelago of the British Virgin Islands, commonly known as B.V.I., numbers more than 60 islands, of which only about 16 are inhabited. Discovered by Columbus in 1493, the first settlers were Spanish and Dutch planters, followed by the British in the 17th century. Tortola became notorious as the haunt of buccaneers; nearby Norman Island is said to have provided the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.Approximately 80 percent of the population lives on Tortola, the largest island in the archipelago. The capital, Road Town, is the administrative and business centre of the B.V.I. Its Main Street features typical island-style buildings. Banks, government offices and a small craft village are built on filled land, named Wickhams Cay.
Cherry red roofs, yacht-sprinkled bays and a sophisticated French flavour all add to the gorgeous Caribbean allure of Gustavia. The island’s capital rolls around a horseshoe-shaped harbour, where gleaming yachts hover and fancy boutiques, bars and restaurants fizz with life and clinking cutlery. Head up to red and white Gustavia Lighthouse to look down over the revered waters, which attract many a celebrity guest and diving enthusiast to these shores. View less Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover this volcanic island in 1493, giving it the name St Barthelemy in honour of his younger brother. The island has a unique history as a Swedish colony, following a deal with the French King Louis XVI to exchange the island with Sweden for better trading rights. It was returned to French control in 1878 and is now a French Overseas Collectivity. Learn more of the Swedish legacy at Fort Karl – which sits on a 29-metre-high hill above Shell Beach. The fort now lies in ruins, but you’ll meet wandering iguanas, and the views down of sweeping sea and emerald coastline are some of the island’s finest. Down below, a delightful spread of tiny pebbles and shell fragments are scattered like confetti and lapped by crystal-clear water. A little exploration uncovers countless other glorious beaches and natural wonders. Colombier Beach is a little out of the way but cradles silky-smooth sands and typically turquoise waters. If you have chance, find somewhere to settle and sip fruity rum cocktails as the sunset flares across the waves.
Sitting on the north coast of this lush, tropical island, San Juan is the second settlement founded by European settlers in the Caribbean, and the oldest city under US jurisdiction. The stocky walls and watchtowers here have stood the test of time, repelling notable invaders – such as Sir Francis Drake – and the pirates who historically looted these islands. With massive fortresses, airy plazas and sheer Caribbean beauty, San Juan is a beach-blessed star of these turquoise waters. View less With more than 500 years of European history, Old San Juan gleams In Puerto Rico’s sunshine, with sugar-almond painted facades and ankle-testing cobbled lanes. Decorative balconies and varnished wooden doors add everyday artistry to streets, dripping with history. Soak up the culture at rum-fuelled parties and salsa dances on this Spanish-culture infused island, or recline into afternoon relaxation sessions on sensational slivers of gleaming sand. Kick back on the beach, or satisfy a lust for adventure by exploring sprawling mangrove forests. The magic of sea kayaking after dark here is an experience you won’t forget. Break the waves with your oar, and watch as the waters illuminate with neon colour, as bioluminescence creates a mystical, peaceful spectacle. Pocked limestone cliffs and karst landscapes add rugged contrast to the serenity of the beaches, and you can walk into folds of the earth in sea-carved caves, or across cliffs to hidden views of the Caribbean’s expanse. Enjoy a taste of the island’s cuisine by sampling Mofongo – a local concoction of green plantains and chicken. Why not indulge and wash it down with an iced mojito, made from crushed mint and locally distilled rum?
7 Nights aboard Silver Dawn
Departs 23 Feb 2024