Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Martinique Cruise Port: Tips, Attractions, Weather

Martinique cruise port at Fort-de-France. © 2023 by Scott S. Bateman
Martinique cruise port at Fort-de-France. © 2023 by Scott S. Bateman

The Martinique cruise port at Fort-de-France may feel like the most French of any port among the four French islands in the Caribbean.

English is not spoken nearly as much by the locals as elsewhere in the Caribbean. Many of the signs are in French rather than English.

As such, the island draws more tourists from France than English-speaking countries. But that doesn’t stop cruise ships with English speakers from stopping there.

Many ships dock at the Tourelles Terminal, which is near the edge of Fort-de-France, the capital of the island. The cruise docks are located on the southwestern edge of the island.

Visitors won’t find much at the cruise terminal. Instead, the heart of the visit lies at Fort-de-France, which is a five-minute taxi ride or 15-minute walk to the center of town. But visitors also can simply walk off the ship and start shopping and dining along the waterfront.

Other cruise ships dock right at the center of town at the growing Port Simone Terminal, which gives visitors easy access to everything.

Quick Travel Tips

  • Use the Visitor Information Center at the Pointe Simon docks as a starting point.
  • Fort Saint Louis, La Savane Park and Schoelcher library are popular attractions in the city.
  • Outside of the city, Mount Pelée is a renowned dormant volcano, hiking attraction and highest peak on the island.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Walking Around Attractions

Martinique Cruise Port Map

Fort-de-France has plenty to see on foot. Like other Caribbean islands, Martinique is expanding its efforts to appeal to cruise ship passengers.

Inside Fort-de-France are city stewards in red jackets who also are multilingual and give directions and answer questions, according to the Martinique Tourism Authority. (For the record, we didn’t see any, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t around.)

The Martinique Cruise Village at Pointe Simon is a small facility of vendors and information booths with multilingual speakers. It is open during the peak cruise season until mid April.

Vendors include local clothing, jewelry and accessory designers, locally produced skin care products and perfumes, souvenir shops, local artists exhibiting their paintings and tasty snacks.  All vendors accept payment in US Dollars.

The experience is enhanced with live local music, entertainment, rum tasting, and greetings by multilingual hostesses.

The 17th century Fort Saint Louis is a massive fort on a rocky peninsula just to the east of the city. It is clearly visible from the Pointe Simon cruise docks.

Visitors who disembark at Pointe Simon can walk off the docks and go several hundred yards to the right to reach the fort. It is still active as a naval base. Visitors can tour the fort but not the base.

La Savane, just to the left of the fort, is a spare 12-acre park with a headless, vandalized statue of Napoleon’s wife, Empress Josephine. Splatters of red paint add a macabre touch to the decapitated statue.

Right next to La Savane is Schoelcher library, one of the most photographed attractions on the island because of its beautiful architecture. There is not much to see inside, but it has great air conditioning on a hot day.

Shore Excursions

Martinique shore excursion operators have a heavy emphasis on tours of Fort-de-France and the island.

Cruise ships and excursion operators offer walking tours of the city for about $40-50. Independent visitors can easily walk the city on their own, but tour guides offer historical and cultural perspectives. They also will save time for anyone who doesn’t want to wander on their own.

Schoelcher library
Schoelcher library is popular with photographers. © 2018 Scott S. Bateman

Otherwise, Martinique doesn’t have as many shore excursions as some other ports, possibly because the city has so many points of interest to offer on foot.

Tours of the entire island will cost about $75 to $100 per person including transportation and depending on the length of the tour. Island tours may include lunch and a visit to Mount Pelée. Note that some tours may visit only the north or only the south areas of the island but not the entire island.

One interesting option among some island tours includes a stop at the beautiful Balata Church. It is an exact replica of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre-Coeur) in Paris. Others may stop at a rum distillery.

Mount Pelée is a renowned volcano and the highest peak on the island at 4,500 feet. The site is a National Biological Reserve with views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on clear days. A summit trail is available for experienced hikers. The volcano is about one hour and 15 minutes northwest of Fort-de-France via excursion bus.

The island has one 71-par golf course at the Martinique Golf and Country Club at Les Trois Ilets. It offers 18 holes totaling 6,640 yards. It also has a driving range and putting green. The course is a 30-minute drive south of Fort-de-France.

Garden of Balata is a 15-minute drive north of the city. It is a private botanical garden with 3,000 tropical species open to the public for a fee. This shore excursion costs about $75 from excursion operators with discounts for children.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Martinique is not one of the better beach destinations for cruise ships because so few beaches are near the Fort-de-France cruise port.

Some of the best beaches such as Grande Anse des Salines lie an hour or more away from Fort-de-France. But few excursion companies and cruise lines offer trips to Grand Anse because of its distance.

Pointe du Bout is 30 minutes south of the city, and Anse DuFour is 45 minutes away. A few operators offer visits to Les Anses d’Arlet beach, which is about 40 minutes away, for about $75 to $100.

A few excursion operators also include visits to Pointe Marin beach, which is an hour from the cruise port. Prices start at $90 with discounts for children.

If taking an excursion trip, be sure to find out the amount of travel time versus the amount of time on the beach. Some trips require more travel time than actual time at the location.

Shopping / Restaurants

Fort-de-France is less developed commercially for tourists than other cruise ports. It doesn’t have the same high level of ship visits such as Nassau, Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and others.

What counts as the main drag is Avenue Loulou Boilaville, which is the first street running parallel to the water and in front of the Point Simone terminal.

Shops and restaurants are scattered haphazardly beyond the Tourist Information Center at Point Simone. From the center, take either Rue du Commerce or Rue Francois Arago away from the docks. Before leaving, check the center for tips on the best restaurants.

The covered marketplace in the heart of downtown Fort-de-France is a truly local shopping experience with vendors selling everything from local foods to handmade straw products.

Getting Around / Transportation

Fort-de-France is one of the better walking-around ports because most everything worth seeing is reachable on foot from the Pointe Simon cruise docks. Passengers who disembark at Tourelles Terminal will need a taxi to reach the city center.

Buses travel between Fort-de-France and popular tourist attractions, but they have a reputation for being unpredictable. Look for signs on buses that say “TC” (for Taxi Collectifs).

Otherwise, passengers wanting to go outside of the Fort-de-France city center will need a taxi, rental car or excursion bus.

Cruise Port Weather

Martinique monthly rainfall
© 2021 Scott S. Bateman

The average daily high temperatures range from the low 80s Fahrenheit during the winter to the high 80s in the summer. Nighttime temperatures range in the low to mid 70s.

Martinique is a lush island thanks to a high amount of rain throughout the year. It is one of the rainiest islands in the Caribbean.

The island historically has averaged three to four inches a rain per month during the best times to visit—February through April. Rainfall starts to climb in May and reaches a high point of as much as 10 inches a month from August through November.

Other Tips

- The Euro is the main currency.
- U.S. dollars and all major credit cards are widely accepted.
- Nonlocal checks may be refused by some businesses.
- Many ATMs are available around the island.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the America.
May 08, 2023