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5th December, 2012

Forte de France

Fort de France is the capital of France’s Caribbean overseas department of Martinique. It is also one of the major cities in the Caribbean, sometimes referred to as the 'Paris of the Caribbean'. The investment of EU money is very evident compared to the less wealthy near neighbours.

Another very familiar face to me as was the pilot, Thierry Mathurin, who didn’t look a day older than the last occasion I saw him!

The relatively new passenger berth situated outside the old town guarded by Fort Stint Louis was being lengthened. Because of the on-going construction work we were appointed a berth in the old port close to the French naval docks. It made for a much more interesting and challenging arrival which the early morning risers strolling the deck enjoyed as much as we did on the bridge.

The town, nestled behind a headland dominated by an impressive fort was bathed in the morning sunlight. Fort de France is reminiscent of those wonderful ports along the French Rivera and is the administrative centre of the island. Today it is the major hub, made up of winding streets and market squares selling all sorts of spices and fabrics; a shopper’s paradise.

The first tour to depart in the morning was a trip to ‘Saint Pierre and the Botanical Gardens’. The city has had a tragic past. In 1902 a massive volcanic eruption destroyed most of the town, killing its 30,000 inhabitants. This was retold in the Volcanology Museum that formed a major part of the tour.

Whilst for something different there was the ‘Deep Martinique’ trip, a full day excursion taking in most of the island.

Another popular tour today was the ‘Snorkelling and Bat Cave’ shore excursion. A half hour cruise took passengers to a headland from where from an anchorage guests were allowed free time to explore the waters. This was followed by a guided trip into the Bat Cave and a chance to see its interesting inhabitants, before another swim at another wonderful beach and then a quick cruise back to the ship.

Sailing out at 6.00pm was a little more tricky as I had to back out of the berth and turn the ship in her own length in order to line up for the buoyed channel. I’m getting to know the Sapphire handling capabilities and the manoeuvre went well.

In the Britannia Lounge tonight guests had a second chance to appreciate the comedy genius; Dave Kristen. A hilarious performance, full of fun and frivolity was followed by a spot of dancing with our male dance hosts, Noel, Colin, Roger and David. Upstairs in the Drawing Room, our Cruise Host ‘Fernando Perez’ entertained all with his melodious tones and acoustic guitar, a cabaret that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Tomorrow sees us arrive at the second French island, Guadeloupe.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.