Martinique will now be directly accessible from the Northeast for the first time in 20 years. // © 2015 Steve Bennett, UncommonCaribbean.com
Feature image (above): Clients traveling to Martinique may visit Sainte-Pierre, a historic city in the northern part of the island. // © 2015 Steve Bennett, UncommonCaribbean.com
Martinique is poised to become a bigger tourism player in the Caribbean. In the past, sufficient airlift has been a problem for the Gallic-infused destination, and Martinique’s tourism board has had to inspire visitors to make an extra effort to vacation on the island. But this will all change with the recent announcement from Norwegian Air that it will begin new nonstop flights from three major Northeast U.S. gateways: New York (JFK), Boston (BOS) and Baltimore/Washington, D.C. (BWI).
The flights onboard Norwegian Air Shuttle begin Dec. 3, timed perfectly to coincide with the Caribbean’s high season. This is a game-changer for Martinique, since it’s the first time in more than 20 years that Martinique has been directly accessible from the Northeast.
“The critical importance of the Northeastern U.S. market to tourism development in the Caribbean is well-known in our industry,” said Muriel Wiltord, director of the Americas for the Martinique Promotion Bureau. “In recent years, we’ve invested steadily in the market, progressively expanding demand for leisure travel to the French West Indies. These new flights from Norwegian represent a significant step forward in our overall U.S. development strategy, building upon our success in reestablishing nonstop flights from the U.S. via Miami in 2013 and the tremendous growth we’ve seen in the cruise sector since 2010.”
On its low-cost flights between the U.S. and Fort-de-France, Norwegian Air will fly 186-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Special introductory fares on Norwegian flights to Martinique are currently available for purchase.
New nonstop flights from the Northeastern U.S. to Martinique via Norwegian will operate as follows:
- JFK: Three times per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
- BWI: Two times per week, on Mondays and Fridays
- BOS: Two times per week, on Wednesdays and Sundays
The announcement from Norwegian Air isn’t the only good news coming out of Martinique. In June, American Airlines increased its Miami to Martinique nonstop service to four times per week, with a further increase to six times per week scheduled to begin Dec. 17 and continue during the peak winter season.
Martinique is also enjoying a huge uptick in the cruise sector, with a 524 percent increase in cruise passenger arrivals since 2010. Further growth is predicted in 2015-2016, as a record 22 ships are scheduled to make their first-ever port calls in Fort-de-France between Oct. 26, 2015, and August 31, 2016.
Martinique has much to offer, especially for repeat visitors to the Caribbean who may have already experienced its English, Spanish and Dutch Caribbean destinations. The island’s French culture and cuisine are very accessible to visitors, who can also explore the region’s Gallic-influenced architecture and historical heritage, which include the childhood home of Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, who was born and raised in Martinique.
Instead of giving itself over to the kind of mass tourism associated with huge, all-inclusive resorts, Martinique instead prefers to draw visitors with its culture and unspoiled landscape and beaches. The island makes a great vacation destination for clients who are foodies, rum aficionados, eco-tourists and honeymooners — and now, it’s more within reach than ever.