Cruising on Windstar to Dominica and Les Saintes

Boats bobbing near the dock on Les Saintes, French West Indies

Boats bobbing near the dock on Les Saintes, French West Indies

On its weekly winter cruises out of St. Maarten, the 310-passenger sailing ship, Wind Surf, often docks for a day at Les Saintes, a small island in the French West Indies, and at Roseau, Dominica.

At Roseau, even with three moderate-sized ships parked in the harbor, you would hardly know that boatloads of tourists were in town.

Roseau is deep with side streets and local merchant shops to swallow curious travelers. Fran Golden and I meandered toward a botanical park and a trail marked as Jack’s walk.

A note of warning here for anyone tempted to walk with Jack, should your vessel anchor at Roseau, Dominica: I question the accuracy of the park  sign pointing toward a patch of woods and indicating that Jack’s Walk was only 35 steps.

Stepping and stepping and stepping

View from Jack's Walk

View from Jack’s Walk

The sign for Jack’s Walk reminded me of what the folks in Scotland call a “wee stroll,” which never is wee and seldom is an easy path for a stroll.

The reason that Jack’s Walk was reported to be only 35 steps was because Jack’s path began after 35 steps of climbing into the woods. Jack’s Walk was at least another 100 or so steps — some concrete, some loose stones, some gnarly tree roots.

A worthy walk it was, however, probably no more than 35 minutes from the dock, providing a view of the town in the picture above (which, by the way, can be reached by paved road, if you’re not up to a walk and climb. Ask for a taxi near the dock).

In Roseau, we stopped for lunch along the main street toward the park, at a restaurant with three small tables, each covered with a white tablecloth. Two orders of chicken wings, salads with potato/bananas/carrots, and two local beers amounted to a total of $14.

Not much chance of finding that price for lunch for two in a Caribbean port city where the big ships dock.

Where locals speak French6a00d83476d41669e2017c36509a8f970b-250wi

Les Saintes is a favorite port among travelers for its charm, tidiness, bright colors and French style. It is so French that many islanders, including most in the tourism office near the dock, speak no English.

So, if your ship is stopping at Les Saintes, take some time before you go to look over the local website (in English) and and at the commentary at Trip Advisior for ideas of how to spend your day. Or, just hang a right at the dock and take a wee stroll along the street that follows the waterline. About 30 minutes away, I spent some time in the ruins of an old fort, resting in the sunshine of a small Caribbean island, communing with a goat that paid no attention to my “bonjour.”

Read David’s cruise blogs at his Travel Mavens site

Photos by David G. Molyneaux

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