Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

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Castries, St Lucia

Castries, St Lucia

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Marigot Bay in St. Lucia
Marigot Bay in St. Lucia
by Jennifer Marx

Towering mountains covered in lush vegetation, bubbling sulfurous hot springs, and black-sand beaches combine to make St. Lucia (pronounced “LOO-sha”) a memorable stop for Caribbean vacationers. Watersport and eco-tourism opportunities abound—if only we had more time in port to hike those mountains and explore the forests!

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ST. LUCIA AMBIENCE

St. Lucia is about as French as any British island can be. Most place names are French, including Les Pitons, those twin mountains rising a half-mile from the sea. Les Pitons are possibly the most-photographed mountains in the Caribbean. Your entry port of Castries, alas, has little of its old architecture remaining, due to several disastrous fires. Unless your goal is to shop, head out of town to enjoy the island’s many sights and activities.

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ST. LUCIA HISTORY

St. Lucia is called “the Helen of the Caribbean.” Like Homer’s Greek heroine, the island’s beauty is notable. Like many Caribbean islands, the Arawak Indians were settled here two thousand years ago, only to be later ousted by the aggressive Caribs in 800 A.D. The first European to set foot on the island is widely believed to be Juan de la Cosa, a prolific explorer. The first European settler was Francois Le Clerc, a.k.a. “Pegleg,” who set up house on Pigeon Island and attacked passing Spanish ships. The French and British battled over “Helen” for more than 150 years—the island changed hands fourteen times during that period. The British had the final triumph in 1814 (thanks to victory in Europe over Napoleon), so cars drive on the left-hand side, but the French influence is still huge—most place names are French, and the French-based Creole patois is still widely spoken. The volcanic hot springs were developed as a military health spa under the direction of King Louis XVI, only to be destroyed several years later during the French Revolution. As with most islands in the region, St. Lucia achieved independence in the late 1970s, and is now part of the British Commonwealth. St. Lucia’s tourism has grown steadily over the last 20 years.

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ST. LUCIA FACTS

Size: 26 miles (42 km.) long by 13 miles (21 km.) wide
Climate: Tropical Temperatures: 76°F (25°C) to 86°F (29°C)
Population: 158,000 Busy Season: Late December to April
Language: English, French Money: E. Carib. Dollar (1 = 37 U.S. cents)
Time Zone: Atlantic (no DST) Transportation: Taxis, cars
Phones: Dial 1- from U.S., dial 911 for emergencies, dial 999 for police
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Top Photo Slice: Les Pitons of St. Lucia (℗ 53337) Photo contributed by © Jennifer Marx



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