The cruise terminal in Martinique is just a short (and easy) 15-minute walk from Martinique’s capital city, Fort-de-France. This means you’re well connected to the transit hubs and transit options that Martinique has to offer, which makes it a whole lot easier to see some of Martinique’s attractions independently if you’re visiting on a cruise. This jewel in the French Caribbean is a glorious island to visit with volcanoes, beaches, superb Creole food and an extremely interesting history with connections to former leaders of France! We hope you’ll enjoy this guide to the best things to do in Martinique on a cruise.
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Our guides for travelling to Martinique do NOT contain Coronavirus updates. You should always read the French Government’s Travel Advisory – you can find that here
What to See in Martinique on a Cruise
The cruise terminal in Martinique is in a great location – just a short 15-minute easy walk from the capital city of Fort-de-France and connected to the Martinique transit system. This island, a French Overseas Territory, though, is very French. While many of the major tourist attractions have English speaking guest services staff, you won’t necessarily that on public transport and in all the areas of the island. Martinique is very popular as a stop for cruise ships and for good reason, she’s a beautiful island, with an immense history (both good and bad) a glorious climate and some stunning landscapes. If you’re visiting Martinique on a cruise, here are the best options for what to do with your time here.
If you have a little longer then you’ll find our guide to the best things to do in Martinique here of use – and if you only have a single day – longer perhaps than a cruise ship stopover, then you’ll want to check out this guide to one-day itinerary in Martinique.
See Martinique Independently from a Cruise Ship
If you prefer not to take cruise ship organized shore excursions in Martinique then it’s relatively easy to plan an independently trip around the island. Martinique isn’t a small island, and the roads don’t always go exactly where you want them to, so you’ll need to plan your time carefully to make the most of your shore excursion on Martinique.
The roads are good here – this is, for all intents and purposes, just like being in France, in Europe. All road signs are in French, with distances in kilometres. Martinique, is, after all a French Overseas Territory and being here is like being in the EU, but with a somewhat more tropical climate.
If you plan to see Martinique independently, then we’d recommend either heading into Fort-de-France – we’ll cover the highlights of what to see in Fort-de-France below. Or you can read our full guide to what to do in fort-de-France here. Or plan to visit one or two attractions in Martinique. The distances between attractions are not short! It may only take 35-45 minutes to drive from the cruise terminal to the famous Clement Rum distillery, but if you also want to visit Saint Pierre, you’ll spend ANOTHER 80 minutes driving from Clement to Saint Pierre.
Our advice is to plan your shore time in Martinique wisely. When we visited Martinique on our cruise we explored the city of Fort-de-France, knowing that we were returning. After our cruise, we came back to Martinique and spent longer here, staying in apartments around the island to more fully explore.
What Not to Miss in Martinique
Clearly, when you’re on a cruise you’re visiting other islands as well and the best things to do on Martinique should be the unique ones that you can’t do anywhere else (or that’s what we think anyway!). You also have limited time, so packing in as much as you can is great.
You’ll need to decide in Martinique whether you want to
- Chill out and relax (i.e. head for a beach)
- Learn to cook some Martinician Food
- Explore the world of Rhum Agricole – unique to Martinique and Guadeloupe
- Go for a hike in Martinique’s nature
- Explore Martinique’s capital city, Fort-de-France
- Take a tour of the South of the Island
- Take a tour of the North of the Island
- See Martinique’s Volcano, Mount Pelee
- Explore Martinique’s Botanical Gardens
Best Shore Excursions in Martinique & Things to Do in Martinique on a Cruise
In our best of the best shore excursions and things to do in Martinique when you’re on a cruise, we’ve outlined what we think are the unique things to do in Martinique. We’ve highlighted the best attractions that Martinique has to offer and what you can see in your short time here.
Taste Unique Rhum Agricole in Martinique – Visit Habitacion Clement
Rhum Agricole is different from regular rum. Rhum Agricole is distilled directly from pressed cane sugar. It usually (but not always) comes from the French Caribbean. Rhum Agricole can be made anywhere, but to attain the status of Rhum Agricole AOC Martinique it must be distilled from fresh press cane sugar in Martinique. We think that the best place to try Rhum Agricole is Habitacion Clement – The tour there covers the history of Rhum Agricole and takes you through the whole process of rum distilling.
Take a Creole Cooking Class in Martinique + Visit a Rum Distillery
The food of Martinique is quite delicious, it’s a combination of the West African influence, Native American heritage, Caribbean ingredients and a French culinary tradition. Creole Cuisine is amazing and there’s no better way to find out how amazing than by taking a Creole cooking class in Martinique. This cooking class is in the garden of the La Mauny Distillery. You’ll cook three courses of a Creole-style lunch and then tour the Distillery with unlimited rum tastings throughout the tour. There’s more about it here – and details of how to book your visit too
Visit La Francaise Beach in Martinique
Martinique has some glorious beaches. Beaches where it’s just perfect to lie in the sun and watch the world go by while sipping a Martinician Ti Punch. There are stunning white sand beaches, black sand beaches. Beaches where you’ll get great snorkelling and beaches, where you can swim safely and where it’s shallow and great for kids. There are surfing beaches and wild remote beaches on Martinique. There’s even a beach that you can walk to from the cruise terminal! La Francaise – the beach that you can walk to from the cruise terminal is signposted from the terminal (in both English and French) and might not have the bright white sand that you’ve come to expect in the Caribbean, but it’s clean and safe and easy to get to.
However, the best beaches in Martinique are a good distance away from the Cruise Terminal – by far the favourite beach on Martinique, Grande Anse des Salines is an hour from the terminal. If you want to visit a beach during your time here, then we recommend La Francaise and plan another trip – here’s our guide to Martinique’s best beaches to whet your appetite.
If you do spend the day on the beach be sure to secure your valuables. We use and recommend portable travel safes – here’s our guide to the best travel safes.
Take a Walking Tour of the Sights of Fort-de-France
The history and legends of a place are always so much more interesting when they’re related by a local. This 2 hour downtown Fort-de-France walking tour covers the history of the capital of Martinique and takes you around the key landmark of the city. You’ll get to see the Old Courthouse, the St. Louis Cathedral and La Savane Park. It’s a great way to see the main sights in the city! Get more information and book your tour here.
Check out Fort Saint Louis in Fort de France
Fort Saint Louis is not just one of the best attractions in Martinique, but it’s also easy to visit from the Cruise Terminal. The fort dates from 1640 and its about 20 minutes walk from the Tourelle Cruise Terminal. Be sure to head to the roof for fabulous views of Fort-de-France. A tour of Fort Saint Louise lasts one hour and 15 minutes and there are a maximum of 20 people per tour. You’ll need to book with your cruise ship company to visit and do this EARLY!
Explore the Food and Culture of Fort de France
The best way, I always think, to understand the culture of a location is to eat the food. On this food tasting and history tour of Fort-de-France, you’ll start at a neighbourhood market and kick off the tour with some local delicacies. This tour takes you through the history of Fort-de-France and includes food tastings (vegetarians and vegans can be catered for too). Groups are limited to 10 people so you’ll always get great personal attention. Check reviews and book this tour now.
Visit the Jardin de Balata – Martinique’s Botanical Garden
You’ll find Jardin de Balata about 10 kilometres from Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France. Martinique’s botanical garden has been wowing visitors for more than 50 years and unless you time your visit with a cruise ship tour you’ll find a glorious peaceful escape. There are winding paths and rope bridges among the pals, ferns and bamboos. You should allow about 90 minutes to visit Jardin de Balata, the trail is around 1 kilometre and the canopy walk will take you 15 metres into the bamboo forest. While the garden is open from 0900 to 1700, 7 days a week, it’s recommended to visit Jardin de Balata in the afternoon for the best garden experience. Tickets for adults cost 14 euros. You can prebook your tickets to Jardin de Balata here.
Go for a Nature Hike When you’re in Martinique
The Caravelle Peninsular in Martinique is one of the island’s most popular hiking spots. Taking a guided hike through this lush environment with wide-ranging biodiversity will also give you some glorious views of the Caribbean Sea. This is a fabulous way to see the great outdoors of Martinique. It’s a three-hour hike from start to finish and the terrain is mainly flat, but bear in mind its hot and humid and you will also need a taxi to take you to the Caravelle and bring you back to the cruise terminal. This guided hike of the Caravelle is fabulous and we seriously recommend it.
Take an Off the Beaten Track Trip to the Volcanic and Mountainous North of Martinique
The best way to see as much of Martinique in your time here is to take a private tour. You’ll get to see more with less time waiting around. This private tour takes you off the beaten track in the north of Martinique. You’ll get to stroll through the old capital, Saint Pierre, taste rum from a local distillery, swim under a waterfall, see local monuments and also relax on one of Martinique’s beaches. Book your private tour of the North of Martinique here.
Visit the South of Martinique – Diamond Rock, Trois Islet, Distillery & Pottery Studio
The south of Martinique boasts a host of cultural attractions and this half day tour from Fort-de-France will take you to the best of them. You’ll get to visit a pottery studio, distillery and view Diamond Rock. There’s more about this tour – and booking details – here
Where to Shop in Martinique
There’s not a particularly developed shopping centre for tourists in Martinique, but where you do want to head to is the Grand Marche in downtown Fort-de-France. This is the best place to head to for your souvenirs from Martinique. Check it out on our map of Fort-de-France.
What to Shop for in Martinique
You will find a spice market on all of the Caribbean islands that you visit and the spice market in Fort-de-France is at the Grand Marche. You’ll find dried spices, fresh fruits and you’ll want to check out a local speciality if you dare. Bois Bandé is the bark of the Riceria Grandis tree. Here in the Caribbean, it is legendary as an aphrodisiac. The name translates as wood (from the French,bois) and to have an erection (bander). Use at your own risk…
How to Get Around Martinique
As you’re in Martinique just for part of the day while you’re on your cruise, you’re unlikely to use the transit system, which in Martinique is called Mozaik and which is great. We’d recommend cruisers use taxis or prearranged transfers. If you’re staying longer in Martinique then our guide to the island explains more about transport in Martinique.
Things to Know About Arriving in Martinique on a Cruise Ship
Here’s a few of thing the things you might need to know if you’re arriving on a cruise ship in Martinique. If you have questions that we haven’t covered here then drop us an email or ask in the comments and we’ll get you an answer.
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock in Martinique
Most cruise ships dock at the Quai de Tourelle – the Tourelle Terminal in Martinique. You’ll see this marked on Google Maps as “Terminal Croisières”. It is very close to the centre of Fort-de-France. It is just a 15-minute walk, along sidewalks (and it’s also signposted) to the centre of the capital city.
Some cruise ships also dock at Pointe Simon Terminal, which you may see referenced on Google Maps as “Cruise Terminal”. This is equally close to the centre of Fort-de-France.
We’ve marked the cruise terminals on our map here.
How to Get from the Cruise Terminal to Fort De France
The cruise terminal in Martinique is only 15 minutes’ walk from the capital city of Fort-de-France. It is an easy walk to the centre of the city.
What facilities are there at the Cruise Terminal in Martinique?
There are very few facilities at Martinique’s cruise terminal. You’ll need to walk to the centre of Fort-de-France – which is less than 15 minutes’ walk. There are sideways and signposts.
What Language is spoken in Martinique
Martinique is an overseas French Territory and the official language here is French. Major tourist attractions and hotels will have English speaking guest services staff. Most public transport, supermarket and non-tourist shops will speak only French.
What is the Currency in Martinique
The official currency in Martinique is the Euro. You will find that some tourist shops will accept US dollars. Small shops, public transport and taxis will not accept US dollars, you’ll need to either change funds for Euros or find an ATM.
Where to Get Cash in Martinique
There are several major bank ATM’s in downtown Fort-de-France. You can see these on our map. Click on the map to zoom in. Clicking on the map will take you to GoogleMyMaps which you can load into your mobile.
Don’t forget, unless you have an arranged with your bank about foreign transaction fees, that it is always cheaper to be charged in foreign currency than to allow the ATM to convert to your home currency. (Our guide to using Wise – formerly Transferwise – for some of the best and lowest transaction fees is here.)
How do you get from the Cruise Terminal in Martinique to the Airport?
The Aimé Césaire International Airport in Martinique is 11 kilometres from the Cruise Terminal. This route can take up to 30 minutes as traffic in Fort-de-France is usually busy. So allow plenty of time for a flight. You can take a taxi from right outside the cruise terminal. Always confirm the price before setting off. The transit network in Martinique is called Mozaik. This is their website here. Tramline A goes from just outside the Cruise Terminal to the Airport. These trams run on tram-only routes and do not get impacted by hold-ups in traffic. A one-way ticket (you must by before you get on the tram and validate your ticket once you get on) costs 1 Euro 45 cents. You can buy from ticket machines at the tram stops or authorized sellers (see signs outside stores that sell these tickets). We’ve marked on the Fort-de-France map where the tram stops outside the cruise terminal are.
Final Words on the Top Things to do in Martinique on a Cruise
Whether you choose to take organized shore excursions when you visit Martinique on a cruise or see some of Martinique’s attractions independently you’ll have lots of choice on this island in the French Antilles. The cruise terminal is well located and it’s easy to get to transit options, to Fort-de-France, Martinique’s capital and there’s even a beach within walking distance of the terminal too.
Whatever you decide to see and do in Martinique, we hope you’ll enjoy her attractions as much as we did. Let us know what you decide to do with your time in Martinique.
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