Martinique: A slice of France in the middle of the Caribbean

The island of Martinique offers travelers on a Caribbean cruise some fun in the sun, but those interested in French culture and history will also be able to tour some famous sites on the island, which is still considered an official "department" of France.

Start the excursion with a trip to the church of Balata, a short drive outside of the port. This famous cathedral is modeled after the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmarte in Paris, France. With the church's elegant architecture situated on the green hills above the Balata suburb, this is easily one of the most picturesque spots on the island.

The journey continues with a trip to Saint Pierre. This city was once widely considered to be the "Paris" of the Caribbean, especially in the days of imperialism. However, much of the city was tragically destroyed when the nearby Mount Pelee erupted in 1902. With the volcano now dormant, Saint Pierre has been rebuilt and is now considered to be the official "city of art and history" on the island.

Finally, it wouldn't be a trip to Martinique without a visit to the Rum Distillery. Despite the island's small size, it is globally recognized for producing some of the best rums in the world. Travelers will have a chance to sample all of these - and see how they're crafted - during this portion of the trip.