12 Nights aboard Silver Nova
4 Jan 2024
4 Jan 2024
With its heady mix of Creole culture and French sophistication, there is more than a pinch of je ne sais quoi in Fort de France. The capital of Martinique, and by far the biggest city in the whole of the French West Indies, if you are looking for Paris in the Caribbean, you’ll find it in Fort de France. The island has been under French govern since 1638 when the first governor of Martinique Jacques Dyel du Parquet commissioned a fort (from which the city takes its name) to keep out invaders. Not even an unsuccessful attack by the British in 1720, nor the French Revolution in 1789, has been able to shake the French govern of the island and today the city’s French and Creole heritage are impossible to untangle. The colonial past is everywhere, take a stroll down the narrow streets and enjoy the remarkable architecture of the Schœlcher Library, St. Louis Cathedral and the Old Town Hall. Among the many legacies Dyel du Parquet left on the island is sugarcane. A drive through the tropical forests will not only reward you with trees bending under the weight of papayas, mangoes and bananas, but will also afford superb vistas of the elegant plant swaying in the breeze. The arrival and subsequent export of sugar brought the French bourgeoisie in their droves and many of their mansions are still standing. Josephine de Beauharnais, the Napoleonic Empress of “not tonight” fame, hails from the island and those interested will find her childhood home, La Pagerie in nearby Trois Ilets.
Located closer to Havana than Miami, Key West is synonymous for all that is fabulous. Whether it’s beaches, back country or just a brilliant time that you’re after, Florida’s most southern point holds a wealth of intrigue, both past and present. Famed for its unique originality, Key West is a condensation of the best of the sunshine state – fantastic weather, laid back attitude, deep-rooted history and masses of fantastic, fresh seafood; it’s little wonder that nobody ever wants to leave. View less Floating in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, the island has two very definite personalities: bookish and bizarre. On the one hand, the literary festivals, exquisite Caribbean architecture and splendid art galleries attract the bourgeoisie, while on the other, the eccentricity and reticence to be associated with “the mainland” attracts all kinds of “happies” –new era hippies. The two dichotomies live peacefully side by side and have done ever since travellers started arriving in the 1960s — Key West being one of the three big K’s on the hippie path to enlightenment (Kuta and Kathmandu are the others).But past the idiosyncrasies of the Key Westers, and you will find an island that is literally brimming over with spectacular sights and wonderful wilderness. From Henry S. Truman’s Little White House and Ernest Hemmingway’s house and studio, to botanical gardens and marine sanctuaries, visitors will leave this fascinating island wanting more.Best seen by foot, bike or boat, this is an island to be explored al fresco.
Dive into the exuberant, colourful world of Cozumel – a Mexican island of exceptional scuba diving, snorkelling and dazzling beaches. Abundant underwater ecosystems swirl among reefs of black coral – attracting experts and beginners alike to the azure waters of this island. Mayan mythology says Cozumel was the sanctuary of the Goddess of fertility and love, Ixchel – and this seducing Mexican island of adventure and allure leaves all visitors head over heels. Waiting across the Carribean waters from Playa Del Carmen, and a world away from its lively resorts, Cozumel is an idyllic land of gently curving palm trees and tropical shores. Playa Palancar occupies the western coast, with velvety powder and balmy Caribbean seas. Relax, with just the notes of the washing sea and whispering palm trees accompanying you during splashes through the shallow waves or tanning sessions on the soft sand. Playa El Cielo – or the appropriately named Heaven Beach – is home to a divine constellation of starfish resting on the seabed, below its glass-clear waters. Stingrays and sea turtles also swirl in the waters, as you snorkel through some of the island’s most vibrant and diverse displays of marine life. Beach bars serve up spicy Mexican fare with a seaside twist – like delicious prawn fajitas, fish tacos and lime-squeezed ceviches. The crumbling San Gervasio ruins, meanwhile, offer cultural intrigue and a fascinating insight into the remarkable ancient Mayan civilisation. Despite the presence of majestic ruins from antiquity, it’s the giant iguanas, soaking up the sun in clearings, who often unwittingly steal the show.
Enter the mighty Panama Canal, one of history’s most ambitious and spectacular stretches of waterway. Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and slicing through the heart of a continent, the canal is a staggering engineering triumph, eliminating the need to traverse the treacherous waters of South America and Cape Horn. Sail one of the world’s great canals to appreciate the true scale of this achievement, as your ship manoeuvres between its vast, gushing locks and huge lakes. View less The French began construction in 1881, but the costly project was left abandoned and unfinished until the United States finally completed the work in 1914. Following the path of the Panama Railway of 1855, locks raise ships large and small 26 metres up above sea level to the canal’s elevated channel. New locks have recently been added, which allow the canal to accommodate ever bigger ships. Leaving the confinement of the locks, you will enter the canal’s channel, to sail through Panama’s core. Wide lakes are linked by painstakingly chiselled wedges of canal, which slice through the lush scenery. Look out for the Culebra Cut section, the most challenging stretch of the entire route to construct. The Bridge of the Americas is a vast arched landmark, which sweeps across the Pacific Entrance and was completed in 1962. It’s one of several huge bridges that you will sail below on the 51-mile journey, including the much newer Centennial Bridge, and the Atlantic Bridge, which spans the entrance close to Colon.
Manta is one of Ecuador’s ports along the central coast and the most populated city in Manabi Province. Its existence can be traced to pre-Columbian times when Manta was a trading post for the Incas and Mantas. It was also the port where Charles Marie de La Condamine arrived, leading the French mission to measure the location of the equator in 1735.
Salaverry is the port for Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city. Located about nine hours north of Lima, Trujillo was founded in 1534 by the Spanish conquistador Pizarro. The attractive, colonial city retains much of its original charm with elegant casonas, or mansions, lining the streets.
12 Nights aboard Silver Nova
Departs 04 Jan 2024