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Martinique on the Konningsdam

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Doing southern Caribbean in November.  All ports are familiar to us with the exception of Martinique. Are there any do's and don'ts that we should be aware of. Can we use US dollars to pay for things while we are on the island?  Any other tips that might help us.

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During my most recent visit to Martinique, there were some local merchants who had their  offerings for sale available near the pier.  Many of the things that I saw were different from what I have seen in other Caribbean ports.  I'd suggest that you check them out.  Currency used?  I don't recall if that was an issue.  If one has some Euros left from a previous trip, they would surely be accepted.  

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Euros are the currency since the island is part of France, not just a territory. I don't know if vendors will accept other currencies. We did an excursion to a rum distillery at the slope of the volcano that erupted and destroyed the small town of St. Pierre in 1902. St. Pierre was rebuilt but there are still a few ruins.

Other passengers went to a beach. 

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On Martinique, as on other Carib islands, most vendors will accept $US and/or Visa cards. They know if they don't they will miss out on a lot of sales. At least with us!

Edited by catl331

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A couple of the vendors by the pier did take small US bills for non costly items.

 

But the main stores in town wouldn't take US money.

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It was great to go ashore in Martinique and use euros and be able to make phone calls without roaming charges 😁 The advantage of being a European travelling to Martinique. (Martinique is one of the areas classed as 'Outermost Region of EU as they are French Overseas Departments. Others are Guadeloupe, La Reunion, as well as St Martin )  Even the opportunity to shop in a 'real' French store 'Galleries Lafayette'.

 

I believe you could purchase with USD but the exchange rate would probably be 'merde'. 😉

 

Some of the cafes charged real Parisian prices!

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One thing to keep in mind, Martinique does require a passport to get off the ship. 

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Do take Euros $$$ are not readily accepted everywhere ....they refused mine in a grocery store ...along the dock its ok ..I bought a few things 

check to seeif ferry is working 

when we went we took a snorkeling tour with ship ..thank goodness ferry workerswere on strike that day ...we had great swimming day 

others could not go to beach so check it out 

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27 minutes ago, VMax1700 said:

Others are Guadeloupe, La Reunion, as well as St Martin )

I believe St Martin is just a Territory, not a Department like Guadeloupe and Martinique ... but to be honest I don't really know how much difference that makes! 

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10 minutes ago, Minoushka said:

Do take Euros $$$ are not readily accepted everywhere ....they refused mine in a grocery store

Yes, many or most stores do not take $US, but they will take Visa cards.

 

Edited by catl331

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I used Euros. I'm a firm believer in "going local." I agree that you do see some different things at the vendors. Also the usual Caribbean port vendor stuff, but you won't have to run the gauntlet of Emeralds International, Diamonds International, Del Sol, etc. I found that refreshing. If the vendor is there making ice cream rolls, try that. Fun to watch them make it and delicious. Also a good ice cream shop just off the main street in the town.

 

A group from our roll call wanted to go to Balata Gardens. We asked the tourism people about taking the bus there, and we were told that the bus system wasn't reliable. So we shared an expensive taxi. (Still cheaper than a ship tour) For the return, we decided to try the bus. The people at the garden told us where the stop is, and how much it would cost, and approximate times. The ship wasn't leaving until night time, so we "risked it." Ha! Some risk--the bus was on time, new and spotlessly clean, good driver, and not a bad walk from the drop-off to the ship. I admit it might have been difficult to figure out where to catch the bus to go out to the gardens, but we probably could have managed it ok.  I think the tourism people are supporting the taxis. 

 

If you do go into town, be careful crossing streets. They drive like they're in Paris. 

 

Edited by 3rdGenCunarder

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One of my least favorite islands. We found the locals to be very unfriendly and shop owners didn't seem to care if we bought anything or not. Only there once and a long time ago, hopefully they have improved their service to tourists.

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5 hours ago, Djptcp said:

One of my least favorite islands. We found the locals to be very unfriendly and shop owners didn't seem to care if we bought anything or not. Only there once and a long time ago, hopefully they have improved their service to tourists.

 

I do recall those days and, yes, the situation has changed.  Martinique is a beautiful island with a rain forest drive in its interior that is superior.  The new cruise ship pier that was built is one of the best in the Caribbean that I have experienced.  I wish HAL made Fort-de-France a more regularly visited port than they currently do.

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I enjoyed our visits there in 2000, 2005 and 2007 on Princess ships.  We did the "volcano" tour mentioned above on our first visit, I went snorkeling (including in a cave with bats!) on another, and can't remember what we did on third.  I had had French in high school, which helped a bit although I'm hardly conversant.  Interesting to hear they've built a new pier, presumably to accommodate today's larger ships.

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We made the sweep of Caribbean islands on the Koningsdam last February.  We found St. Lucia the most fun and interesting, Martinique one of the least.

I recommend against the HAL tour that's supposed to give a scenic overview of the island. It was very disappointing. We spent 90% of our time in a bus, visited a church, and wreckage of an opera house that got destroyed in the volcanic eruption. The latter was supposed to provide a potty break but the lavatories were closed, and the guide didn't seem to feel any responsibility to find substitute facilities. Only when we protested vehemently did her initiative seem to kick in.

Martinique no longer has status as a colony; it is an integral part of France, with full representation in the French Assemblee Nationale. Our guide took lengthy pains to emphasize the quality of Martinique's roads and its cleanliness, compared to other Caribbean islands.

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14 minutes ago, Petronillus said:

We made the sweep of Caribbean islands on the Koningsdam last February.  We found St. Lucia the most fun and interesting, Martinique one of the least.

I recommend against the HAL tour that's supposed to give a scenic overview of the island. It was very disappointing. We spent 90% of our time in a bus, visited a church, and wreckage of an opera house that got destroyed in the volcanic eruption. The latter was supposed to provide a potty break but the lavatories were closed, and the guide didn't seem to feel any responsibility to find substitute facilities. Only when we protested vehemently did her initiative seem to kick in.

Martinique no longer has status as a colony; it is an integral part of France, with full representation in the French Assemblee Nationale. Our guide took lengthy pains to emphasize the quality of Martinique's roads and its cleanliness, compared to other Caribbean islands.

 

Most Caribbean "scenic overview" tours are a lot of time on a bus. When I was looking at tour ideas for Martinique, I read some reviews of the volcano "museum," and decided it wasn't much of a stop. The church is nice. I was there on a tour to the gardens several years ago. Since I had seen the church, this time all I wanted to do was the gardens.

 

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On 10/11/2019 at 4:21 PM, Atlantic Canada said:

Doing southern Caribbean in November.  All ports are familiar to us with the exception of Martinique. Are there any do's and don'ts that we should be aware of. Can we use US dollars to pay for things while we are on the island?  Any other tips that might help us.

 

I recommend hiring a taxi at the pier.  We did this with 2 other couples and the personalized tour was so much better than crowding on to busses  I think we paid something like $20 per person.    

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1 hour ago, Petronillus said:

We found St. Lucia the most fun and interesting, Martinique one of the least.

 

Surely agree with you opinion of St. Lucia and sorry to learn that Martinique was a disappointment.  Did your tour include a trip into the interior of the island, into its rain forest?  I found that the best part of the tour that I took and was pleased to see the improvement in the infrastructure in the interior since I did the same tour in 1986.

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We visited Martinique on the Rotterdam several years ago.

 

We did not take a tour, but instead picked up a walking map of the sites in town. Look for the tourist bureau employees. If I remember correctly, they wear red berets and vests and one will be on the pier to get you started. Each location will have one of the tourist bureau workers to give you a explanation on the site and will help you on your way by giving hints in navigation.  They can also tell you what locations may be closed and the hours they will be opened.

 

If you wish to get your feet wet or swim, there is a public beach within walking distance of the pier. It is near the park and fort and one reaches it by leaving the pier, turning right on the street that runs along the water, and taking a short walk to the beach.

 

It was a lovely port stop.

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