On our journey through the lesser-known Eastern Caribbean, we’ll venture to ports inaccessible to larger ships, affording you the chance for dazzling snorkeling, hiking, bird-watching—glimpse the St. Vincent parrot—and explorations of historic forts and peaceful colonial plazas.
• Explore the lesser-known island gems of the eastern Caribbean on an itinerary exclusively designed to take you far from the standard cruise ship routes.
• Discover several of the idyllic islands that comprise the little-explored Grenadines, an idyllic island chain in the heart of the Caribbean Sea.
• Seek out a variety of endemic bird species including the St. Vincent parrot, Montserrat oriole, and purple-throated Carib.
• Snorkel or dive to discover dazzling coral reefs and healthy populations of tropical fish.
• Learn from local experts and onboard lecturers about the fascinating history of the islands we visit and their struggle for independence from Europe.
Board your independent flight to Martinique. Upon arrival, transfer to Le Cap Est Lagoon for dinner and overnight.
Martinique is home to a fascinating and dynamic mélange of French traditions and Caribbean Creole culture. Birders depart early for Presquile Caravelle National Park to search for such island endemics as the Martinique oriole and white-breasted thrasher. Or, choose to visit Balata Church, a miniature version of the Basilica Montmartre in Paris, then continue to Domine d’Emeraude, a botanical garden and interpretive center devoted to the island’s natural history. After lunch at a local restaurant, take a short drive through the ruins of St. Pierre, which was destroyed in 1902 during a massive volcanic eruption. The tour ends in Fort-de-France with a visit to the fascinating Pre-Columbian Museum. Board Le Ponant this afternoon.
The main island of the Grenadines, volcanic St. Vincent offers beautiful white-sand beaches, lushly forested interiors, and excellent snorkeling and diving. Birders take a walk along the Vermont Nature Trail passing through the southwestern tip of the St. Vincent Parrot Reserve, where we hope to spot this colorful endemic bird. A cultural tour takes in the old-world charm of Kingstown, St. Vincent’s historic capital. Enjoy stunning views of the town and the southern Grenadines from the ramparts of Fort Charlotte, built in 1806, and visit the oldest botanical gardens in the western hemisphere.
St. George, the quaint, bustling capital of Grenada, sits on a supremely scenic horseshoe-shaped bay. Wander through the maze of narrow streets to admire colorful colonial buildings, forts, and churches. Enjoy a hike along densely forested trails to view an idyllic waterfall.
These five small, uninhabited islands are part of Tobago Cays Marine Park. With pristine coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and deserted white-sand beaches, this area is renowned for some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean with vertical and gently sloping walls, and multiple wrecks.
Be on deck as the ship approaches St. Lucia for stunning views of the Pitons, two volcanic peaks rising more than 2,400 feet from the turquoise sea. Birders seek the St. Lucia parrot, St. Lucia oriole, and St. Lucia pewee. Take a hike through Edmund Forest Reserve, or choose a tour that visits the Diamond Falls botanical garden, a mineral bath, and a cocoa plantation.
Birders depart early for a hike to Syndicate Falls to search for Dominica’s two endemic and endangered birds—imperial and red-necked parrots. A historic tour explores Fort Shirley, built by the British between 1770 and 1815. Both groups return to the ship for lunch with an afternoon of snorkeling or diving in a marine protected area. Or, choose a full-day cultural tour of Carib Territory, a reserve where approximately 3,000 native Kalinago reside. Learn about their customs, history, and culture, with the chance to view exquisite handicrafts, including baskets, wood carvings, and canoes.
Towering 3,000 feet above sea level, Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills Volcano slumbered uneasily for at least a century before erupting violently in 1995. Covering the capital city of Plymouth with pyroclastic flows, the southern two-thirds of the island are still off limits. Learn more about this devastating event at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory and enjoy grand views of the volcano and surrounding areas. Take a hike in the Centre Hills, home to over 30 species of birds, including the Montserrat oriole, green-throated Carib, brown trembler, forest thrush, and bridled quail-dove.
Popular with the yachting set, Barbuda boasts pretty pink beaches and an easygoing attitude. It is also home to a large magnificent frigatebird colony. Other species we are likely to find here include tropical mockingbirds, pelicans, ibis, oystercatchers, herons, a variety of ducks, and the endemic Barbuda warbler. After lunch on board, step ashore on Antigua for a scenic drive along the coast to Dow’s Hill to learn about the island’s history and enjoy splendid views over the island. Continue to Shirley’s Heights, a restored military lookout with fantastic views over English Harbor. Your tour ends at Nelson’s Dockyard where you have free time to browse the shops, tour the small museum, and perhaps dine on your own at one of the many seaside restaurants.
Take a stroll around the sole town and capital, Oranjestad, with its collection of Caribbean-style cottages and elegant colonial buildings in various states of disrepair. Soak up history and sweeping views from the extensively restored Fort Oranje, a mighty citadel complete with cannons, triple bastions, and cobblestone parade grounds. Or, hike to the top of the Quill, a dormant volcano with a lush cloud forest occupying the crater.
Saba’s volcanic peak rises majestically from the water like the tip of an emerald iceberg. In Saba Marine Park, protected since 1987, divers explore volcanic pinnacles encrusted with corals and sponges, which are frequented by nurse sharks, parrotfish, barracuda, sharks, stingrays, and turtles. Land-based explorations include a hike along the Crispeen Trail for fantastic views over the island. In the afternoon, step ashore on St. Barth’s, take a stroll through Gustavia, the relaxed capital, and visit the 17th-century forts, or browse the town’s many duty-free boutiques. View marine life while staying dry during a thrilling ride in the Yellow Submarine. Or, take a hike along the Colmbier Beach Trail, where there is a good chance to see nesting red-billed tropicbirds.
Disembark and enjoy a short island tour en route to the airport. Board your independent homeward flight.
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Ocean-view staterooms on the Marie Galante Deck are between 122 and 145 square feet, and most feature beds that are configurable into two twins or one queen, en suite bathroom, and one porthole.
Ocean-view staterooms on the Antigua Deck are between 133 and 165 square feet, and feature one fixed queen bed, en suite bathroom, and one window.
Vessel Type: Motor Yacht
Length: 88 metres
Passenger Capacity: 64
Experience the privilege of a relaxing cruise aboard Le Ponant, crafted to respect the tradition of famous sailing yachts.
Following in the nautical tradition of three-masted sailing ships, Le Ponant will take you on a voyage of discovery. The ship capacity is limited to 64 passengers, providing intimacy and convivial atmosphere to the cruise. The refined life on board, the welcoming charm to your cabin, the lounges and the restaurants setting are as many invitations to relax.
Under full sail, gliding over the sea with the wind, you will fall under Le Ponant's spell.