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Tuesday, December 10 - BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS

Bridgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a refined capital city that elegantly showcases its four centuries of British lineage. This charming island was initially inhabited by Amerindian communities 1,500 years ago, but in the 17th century, Barbados emerged as one of the most prolific sugarcane producers worldwide. At its zenith, the revenue from this sweet crop surpassed the combined income of all other British colonies.


A stroll through Bridgetown is a journey through time. From the statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson to the stately Parliament Buildings, the imposing St Michaels Catedral and St Mary's church, and the tranquil Jubilee Gardens, each step is steeped in history. Your exploration continues over the picturesque Chamberlain Bridge and along a scenic seaside boardwalk, leading you to an array of exquisite shoreline cafes and restaurants.

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Wednesday, December 11 - CASTRIES, SAINT LUCIA

St. Lucia is the sort of island that travelers to the Caribbean dream about--a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. The Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the west coast beaches owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea. St. Lucia seems like an island plucked from the South Pacific and set down in the Caribbean. Its dramatic twin coastal peaks, the Pitons, soar 2,500 feet up from the sea, sheltering magnificent rain forests where wild orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise flourish. Brilliantly-plumed tropical birds abound, including endangered species like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot.


Thursday, December 12 - DAY AT SEA

Friday, December 13 - ST. JOHNS, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Antigua is blessed with an abundance of shining white beaches, and many of these have sprouted top-end resort hotels that engender golf courses and other amenities counted among the best in the Caribbean. A pleasant drive up through farms and tiny villages leads to the commanding fortress on Shirley Heights, from which you can survey the town and the harbor of Nelson's Dockyard across the island. Once a carnage for British frigates, today it is an enclave of shops and restaurants.

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Saturday, December 14 - MARIGOT, ST. MARTIN

Tucked beside a lovely cove on the French side of this Dutch/French island, Marigot's streets are lined with boutiques and shops displaying the filigree ironwork and striped awnings of a Riviera village. In the shops, imported Gallic goods tempt you to sample everything from cheeses and cornichons to the latest fashions. Across the island, Dutch Philipsburg is a famous duty-free bazaar and offers activities, including a sailing race aboard real 12-meter America's Cup yachts.

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A classic golden arc of sugary sand at South Friar's Bay, Carambola is home to the island's most luxurious beach clubs and restaurants. Umbrellas, loungers, and optional water sports abound for those so inclined. Otherwise, St. Kitts has other attractions, including several lovingly preserved plantation great houses, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brimstone Hill Fortress, and a scenic narrow gauge sugarcane railway.

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This snug harbor at the West End of Tortola is the classic Caribbean yacht haven, tucked between the high ground of West End on one side and Frenchman's Cay on the other. It was a notorious den for pirates in the past, who used the high ground to watch for naval ships or potential victims. Check on the progress at Pusser's Landing, the multi-service home of the famous wood-distilled rum and the Painkiller cocktail, which is good even if you're not in pain. You'll find plenty of friendly places to grab a bite, sip a coffee, or enjoy a drink while taking in the sights and sharing stories.

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Tuesday, December 17 - DAY AT SEA


The Iles des Saintes, a tiny cluster of islets off the southern coast of Guadeloupe, is what the doctor ordered if he ordered an unspoiled Caribbean experience. No franchise duty-free, no big hotels, no casinos. It is what much of the Caribbean used to be like. Stroll around the little town of Bourg de Saintes. Shop for authentic French cosmetics from the sidewalk vendors. Grab a seat and a beer and revel in the weather and the pace of the past.

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Thursday, December 19 - FORT-DE-FRANCE, MARTINIQUE

Fort-de-France, Martinique's capital, with its narrow streets and iron grill-worked balconies, brings to mind New Orleans or Nice. This distinctly French island is a full-fledged department of France, with members in parliament and the senate. Naturally, everyone speaks French, as well as a rapid-fire Creole. The island features a varied landscape, from quiet beaches to lush rainforests to the imposing Mont Pelee. Not surprisingly, the shopping in Fort-de-France has a decidedly Gallic flair. Bienvenue to this bit of France in the Caribbean.

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Friday, December 20 - SAINT GEORGES, GRENADA

The island of Grenada rises from the Caribbean in steep, green, volcanic mountains. Sheer cliffs and sandy beaches alternate as you proceed along the coast, and the rainforest interior boasts crater lakes, natural springs, and waterfalls. St. George's, Grenada's capital, has long enjoyed the reputation of being the most picturesque harbor in the Caribbean. Founded by the French in 1732, the town retains many elements of its Gaelic heritage, particularly in the architecture along Market Square and the Esplanade. Since wooden structures were outlawed long ago because of repeated fires, many buildings were constructed out of the brick brought over as ballast in trading ships of old. Quaint buildings line the waterfront, tiny pastel houses stand between lush jungle and sandy beach, and multicolor-roofed bungalows climb up the hillsides. The island's fame is derived from the spices it produces and exports all over the world.


Saturday, December 21 - BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS

Witness the ancient Baobab trees in Queen's Park - the Caribbean's biggest - standing as silent sentinels to the island's vibrant past. Take time to unwind on a peaceful beach, delve into the history of a plantation, encounter majestic sea turtles, and even indulge in a tasting at one of the island's famed rum distilleries.

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