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Dominica: a cruise visitors paradise

For cruise passengers whose idea of paradise is scuba diving caves, drop-offs and pinnacles off a deserted sandy beach in the Caribbean, watching for one of seven species of whale and eleven species of dolphin, or hiking up a mountain slope through a verdant rainforest full of indigenous species to a sparkling hidden waterfall, Dominica is the ideal port of call.ÊIn recent years, Dominica has seen dramatic growth in the number of cruise ships that stop at the island. Offering a unique alternative in the Caribbean, cruise passengers - whether on island for a half day or full day - enjoy exploring Dominica’s diverse and awe-inspiring terrain, looking for whales and dolphins, visiting historical sites, hiking the rainforest, scuba diving or snorkeling, shopping the local markets or simply relaxing on a serene sandy beach.

Cruise passengers interested in exploring the Island’s natural surroundings can take half- and full-day hiking excursions into the rainforests to various waterfalls and hot springs while more independent and experienced trekkers can tackle the Island’s rugged interior terrain (Dominica is the most mountainous island in the Caribbean) on their own.

Trails of various difficulty levels can be found throughout the Island, including some that connect historic agricultural estates, and can take as little as one hour or as many as six hours to complete.ÊFor a different perspective on the lush greenery of the Island from the top, a ride on Dominica’s new Rainforest Aerial Tram provides a breathtaking scenic view.ÊThis 4,600-foot-long tram takes visitors on a spectacular 70-minute journey over the treetops of the Island’s magnificent rainforest.

To see the breathtaking underwater world that exists off Dominica’s coast, diving and snorkeling excursions to well known dive sites like Champagne and Scott’s Head Pinnacle are available, as are horseback riding, river tubing, kayaking and mountain biking tours.Ê

Those who have always wanted to see a sperm whale or bottlenose dolphin will delight in taking a whale watching tour.ÊConsidered by some to be the whale watching capital of the Caribbean with an 80% sighting rate, 18 species of whales and dolphins have been identified in the Island’s surrounding waters. Tours to see these amazing creatures up close and first-hand are offered by various Island tour companies several times a week.


History and culture buffs who want to learn about the Island can take a walking tour of Roseau, the Island’s capital city, or visit the Roseau Museum. Also waiting to be explored is Fort Shirley, an English colonial fort found among the ruins at the 800 acre Cabrits Historical and Marine National Park, and the Carib Territory, the 3,782 acre territory where the descendants of the Caribs, the first inhabitants of Dominica, live in eight villages.Ê Today, Carib Indians continue to practice traditional hand-weaving of baskets, which make great souvenirs.

In Roseau, visiting cruise passengers can pick up a few presents for those back home, from handmade crafts made of woods like bamboo, calabash and fwije (tree fern) to local art and various duty-free bargains. At the north end of town, a fruit and vegetable market is a lively stop and provides insight into local customs and culture.

Dominica’s local tour operators offer full and half-day tours.ÊCheck for a complete listing of tour companies. Additionally taxis have standard sightseeing rates and drivers that are knowledgeable about the Island’s sights and history.

Cruise lines including Carnival, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise and Princess visit the island regularly docking at either the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth in the capital city, Woodbridge Bay Port, a five minute drive north of the capital, or Cabrits Cruise Ship Berth located in the north of the Island. For the 2004/2005 season, Dominica expects to welcome over 350,000 passengers.