Tropical rain forest experience in Balata Botanical Garden in Fort de France, Martinique

ABOARD OCEANIA RIVIERA, DAY 6 – It’s hard to believe we are already six days into our cruise — it goes so fast. This morning we wake up to a view of Ft. St. Louis, which means we are docked at Fort de France, Martinique.

Weather-wise, the winds are still around and periodic rain is roaming the area. But overall, mostly bright and sunny.

This is our inaugural visit here, the capital city of this French island that is home to 400,000 people. While other passengers opt to kayak, snorkel, hike and go adventuring in all-terrain vehicles, we are heading into the tropical rain forest to experience Balata Botanical Garden. Who needs all that physical exertion when you can relax and enjoy Nature’s beauty?

Gerry and Pam stop on the suspension bridge for a photo op.

And the trip to the top of the island was relaxing — until we got word of a wreck up ahead on one of those hairpin turns. Nothing moved, including us, for about 30 minutes while they cleared it up. Happily, we were able to press on, and driver Jonathan did an amazing job of maneuvering our large bus around the residual congestion.

Most of us on the tour took it all in stride. On vacation, just like staying home, you can normally expect a few hiccups.

The Gardens were both impressive and beautiful, featuring areas housing palm trees, tropical flora, a Japanese garden and more. The highlight was the suspension bridge, built high into the trees in five sections. Only two adults at a time can move from section to section, so when it’s busy, a line forms quickly.

It does get a little shaky — just don’t look down. One elderly person in our group made it around with his cane. Now that’s spunk!

You must have a cappucino at Baristas.

Back on the ship, one of our new favorite places is Baristas, on Deck 14 overlooking the pool and adjacent to the Library. Open 6:30 am-6 pm, you can enjoy your favorite coffee creation (no charge) or a specialty drink (charge), along with a selection of small sandwiches and pastries. We are hooked on their cappuccinos.

When you want something a little sweeter, head for the ice cream parlor at the Waves Grill, poolside on Deck 12. Get ice cream by the scoop or in a cone, a milkshake or a smoothie. Trust me, you’ll want to try it all.

In the Grand Dining Room, we score a table for two window-side, affording us a magical night view of Fort de France and its harbor lights. Once again, the food is just as good as the setting. By the time dessert arrives — Caribbean Mousse Cake — we are underway and saying our goodbyes to Martinique.

Everything is good at Waves ice cream shop.

While the shows in the Riviera Lounge have been a little hit and miss, tonight’s falls squarely into the former category. Amy Lee stars in “Voices of Violin,” backed by the Riviera Orchestra. Gracious and charming, Ms. Lee captivated us with a selection that ranged from classical to Michael Jackson to Broadway, including a medley from “Phantom of the Opera.” Passengers were standing and clapping their approval.

Unfortunately, it was Ms. Lee’s final appearance. Tomorrow she leaves us in Barbados. Speaking of which, that’s our next stop.

Stay tuned.

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