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Cruising Article –10/12/2012

Uncover hidden jewels on a South American cruise

South America, Caribbean, Manaus, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Devil's Island, Amazon River

A South American cruise will take you from the beautiful clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea up the mysterious Amazon River into the beating heart of the rainforest.

Starting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, you can go on a journey to the islands of St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Tobago and past the scenic Devil's Island before crossing the equator and heading west into Santarem, Boca da Valeria and Parintins - finally arriving in the lush Amazonian port of Manaus. Not only will you be enjoying an unparalleled Caribbean tour, but you'll also explore the exotic creatures and flora of the world's largest and most famous rainforest.

Here are some of the incredible sights and destinations you'll visit along the way on your South American cruise.

Philipsburg and Marigot
The first stop on your Caribbean voyage, the tiny island of St. Maarten is a land that has something of an identity crisis. In 1648, European colonists from the Netherlands and France divided the land into two separate countries - Sint Maarten and Saint Martin, respectively.

Despite the cultural and language differences, you won't have any difficulty passing back and forth between the Dutch capital, Philipsburg, and the French capital, Marigot. You'll find charming colonial-era architecture in Philipsburg backed by a stunning view of the Caribbean, while in Marigot, the French flair for art galleries, cafes, bistros and boutiques is everywhere you turn.

The Pitons
Only a short ways south from St. Maarten lies another beautiful tropical destination - St. Lucia. The port towns of Soufriere and Choiseul lie beneath the shadow of the twin mountains of the Pitons - a UNESCO world heritage site. Reaching 2,600 feet into the sky, the peaks were formed over many generations by the hardening of lava on a volcanic vent. As you explore the mountains, you'll find hot springs along with a gorgeous coral reef running along the shoreline.

If you're feeling particularly daring, you can also take part in a tour of the Sulphur Springs Drive-in Volcano. As you probably guessed by the name, this site allows you to head into the heart of a volcanic crater where there are plenty of bubbling pools and mud baths to enjoy.

Devil's Island
The historic prison on Devil's Island remains an undeniably intriguing a sight. Also known as Isle Royale and part of French Guiana, the island was used as colony for disposing of approximately 80,000 French prisoners for nearly a century. Many of the original buildings remain intact, although the jungle has started to reclaim much of the island.

Perhaps Devil's Island's most well known prisoner, infamous thief Henri Charriere claimed to have been the sole man to escape from the penal colony - exploits that inspired the book Papillon along with the 1973 film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.

Manaus
The final destination on your South American cruise, Manaus is a small port city located near the intersection of the Amazon River, Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes approximately 1,000 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. During the 1800s, Manaus was once an extravagant city sitting on a fortune in rubber manufacturing. However, the rubber wealth disappeared as suddenly as it arrived - making way for new opportunities in duty-free trade in recent years. Manaus affords outstanding views of the surrounding Amazon Rainforest, river along with many historical Indian and colonial sites.

You can escape completely® deep into the Amazon with a South American cruise while also exploring the beauty of St. Maarten, St. Lucia and Devil's Island.