Elude the depths of winter on this seven-night cruise of the Caribbean’s tropical Windward Islands aboard the exclusively chartered, Five-Star, small expedition ship, LE CHAMPLAIN. Cruise into secluded harbors, exploring the Windward Islands’ treasures of Grenada, the Grenadines Tobago Cays Marine Park, Martinique, St. Lucia St. Vincent and Bridgetown, Barbados.
U.S./St. George’s, Granada
Depart the U.S. for Grenada, known as the “Spice Island.” Upon arrival, embark LE CHAMPLAIN. Join your traveling companions for the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board this evening. (R,D)
Grenada’s volcanic isle enjoys cool breezes perfumed with fragrant exports—salt air swirled with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mace, allspice, wild coffee, and organic cocoa.
First controlled by the French in the early 17th century, Grenada was a British colony for nearly two centuries before achieving independence in 1974; however, distinctive French influences remain in surnames, dialect and spicy dishes, much like New Orleans Creole.
See historic landmarks in this picturesque capital, including the cannons and defensive tunnels of Fort George. Enjoy panoramic views of the Carenage, a scenic waterfront dotted with colorful fishing boats and Georgian buildings.
Walk among cinnamon, clove and bay trees in an herb and spice garden, where ginger, pepper and turmeric also grow, and learn about rare botanicals, such as zebapique and jump-up-and-kiss-me, used in cooking, medicines and liqueurs.
Visit Grenada’s largest rum distillery and savor regional, impeccably aged rum.
This afternoon, stroll the white-sand shores of Grand Anse Beach at your leisure. (B,L,D)
Tobago Cays, Grenadines/Chatham Bay, Union Island
An ideal snorkeling retreat shielded from the sea by Horseshoe Reef, Tobago Cays Marine Park is an underwater gallery of colorful sponges, conchs, sea turtles, and fish.
Dramatic volcanic peaks juxtapose the shallow coral reef in Chatham Bay, Union Island. Snorkel in turquoise waters flourishing with marine life.
Gather on deck for a barbecue dinner under a bright blanket of stars (weather permitting). (B,L,D)
The most heavily French-influenced of all the Caribbean Basin, Martinique celebrates its Creole heritage amid paradisical scenery. In Fort-de-France, see the varied architectural styles of its historic buildings blending harmoniously with the landscape, including the elaborate Romanesque Schoelcher Library. Admire the verdant Pitons du Carbet from the Sacré Coeur de Balata, a reduced replica of the Basilica of Montmartre in Paris.
From the veranda of a Creole farmhouse in the famous Balata Gardens, watch hummingbirds feed on sweet nectar. Then, wind through a shaded canopy of trees, including twining begonias, mahogany, musa nana and bamboo, and around the 3000 varieties of its tropical plants. In the St. Pierre Volcanological Museum, see artifacts excavated from the petrified ash of Mount Pelée.
Later, admire typical Creole architecture amid vast sugarcane fields at the Clément Plantation, a French historical landmark and producer of Clément rum for more than 125 years. Tour the former distillery and see galleries that highlight local Caribbean artists and Creole heritage. Stop in the manor house, notable as the site of the 1991 post-Gulf War meeting between French President François Mitterand and U.S. President George H.W. Bush. (B,L,D)
Soufrière, St. Lucia/Marigot Bay
The view of St. Lucia’s twin volcanic peaks—the Gros Piton and Petit Piton, together a UNESCO World Heritage site—is majestic and unmistakable. In Soufrière, wander a canopied haven of vivid flora in Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, cultivated since the 18th century, past rocks tinted yellow, green, and purple from the falls’ mineral-rich waters. At Sulphur Springs, witness firsthand ongoing geological activity in the dormant crater of Soufrière Volcano.
Encircled by thickly forested hilltops, crisp-blue Marigot Bay is a naturally formed shelter and long-time sailor hideaway. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure on the secluded beach in this sublime respite, where an alluring variety of luxurious vessels routinely anchor. (B,L,D)
Saline Bay, Mayreau, Grenadines
Spend the day swimming and snorkeling in Saline Bay, Mayreau, where iridescent blue waves wash peaceful shores, and savor a seaside barbecue lunch. (B,L,D)
Kingstown, St. Vincent/Port Elizabeth, Bequia, Grenadines
Walk through the largest botanical gardens in the Western Hemisphere, populated with trees from around the world and the endangered St. Vincent parrot.
Enjoy sweeping vistas of the Caribbean Sea and the capital city of Kingstown from the early-19th-century ruins of Fort Charlotte, built atop a steep promontory. Known as the “City of Arches,” Kingstown is replete with historic architecture, including the 19th-century cathedrals of St. George and St. Mary.
Cruise to lush Bequia, the largest of the Grenadines at just seven square miles and arguably the most beautiful. Although Amerindians from South America first inhabited Bequia, it was the Caribs who named it the “Island of Clouds.”
Enjoy spectacular views of yacht-filled Admiralty Bay from the remains of 18th-century Hamilton Fort. Visit the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, dedicated to raising and safely releasing endangered hawksbill sea turtles. Join your traveling companions for the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Disembark in Bridgetown and continue on the Post-Cruise Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B)
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