Once upon a time, I booked a wonderful Caribbean cruise getaway for myself and my fiance. This cruise was set to leave out of San Juan, Puerto Rico in October of 2017. In case you don’t remember, that’s the same time that Hurricane Maria nearly decimated the island and left their people without access to basic necessities. We watched news reports pour in about the dire situation and thought that our cruise towards the end of the month would most assuredly be cancelled. As the weeks closed in, the cruise scheduled before ours set sail, though on a slightly altered route since other islands on the schedule were devastated as well. We had planned to stay in Old San Juan the night before, but were notified by our hotel that they had no power. This was truly a bummer as we were hoping to get to know the local culture better and contribute more to their economy by arriving sooner. So we rearranged flights to arrive the day the cruise departed and hoped for the best.
Landing in San Juan was humbling. We saw palm trees snapped in half, homes torn apart, palettes of food and water on airport tarmacs, and hundreds of people in the airport trying to get out as we came in. It was one of those moments when I was ashamed of my privilege…coming to their country during a state of crisis purely to hop on a cruise ship for a vacation as their struggle vanished into the distance. However, I will say that I was extremely proud of how Royal Caribbean handled the crisis. They were not only utilizing their ships to transport vacationers, but also bringing additional food and supplies to the islands they traveled between. They also assisted in transportation to and from the airport since the local taxi service was nearly nonexistent. We still had a local bus driver paid by Royal Caribbean and it was neat to see everyone giving him sizable tips after hearing his story of surviving the hurricane.
While these last few paragraphs may seem unrelated to Martinique, it’s exactly how we ended up there. Martinique was never on our cruise schedule and I honestly had no clue what was there. We were intending to visit St Martin, but when the island saw severe damage, our stop was replaced with Martinique. So we scrambled to make the most of our time there and booked a snorkeling excursion through the cruise line.
While the excursion was fairly crowded and more commercialized than I would normally prefer, the snorkeling was awesome. We visited Anse Dufour, Anse Noire, and a cave close to the sites. Anse Dufour had beautiful water and towards the end of our stay at that spot I stumbled upon a beautiful turtle. While I didn’t swim up to the shores of Anse Noire, it had dark sand from a volcanic eruption which was really neat. We also stopped at a cave that featured many crabs, fish, and of course bats. While I don’t know the exact location of the cave, it is very well known by locals, and excursion companies can easily take you there if you request. While we spent most of our time in the water, the town itself was fun to explore too. Their harbor had beautiful views and there were some fun markets close to the dock. All-in-all, Martinique was a beautiful surprise.
Click here to learn more about some of the top snorkel sites Martinique has to offer!
While we didn’t have time to do it, we heard there are some beautiful gardens at Jardin de Balata.
While this video quality isn’t the best, this YouTube video gives a great perspective of the bat cave we visited! Like I said, it’s easy to locate an excursion that will take you here with a quick google.