Amazon Cruise


The main prisoner quarters on Ile Royale.

Ile Royale

Saturday, February 6th

Ile Royale is the largest and only inhabited island of the three islands that made up the notorious French penal colony 12 miles off the coast of French Guiana.  Royale, Devil’s and St.  Joseph’s islands make up the Salvation Island group.  The group’s name originated in the 1600s when French settlers fled the mainland to escape the disease-ridden jungle.  Ile Royale is the island where cruise ships can anchor and passengers go ashore to have views of the other islands.  Ile Royale is the only island with anything to see, as the wardens, their families, nurses, teachers and the rest of the staff associated with the prison lived here.  The prisoners sentenced to solitary confinement went to St.  Joseph’s and the very worst offenders were sent to Devil’s Island.  They were left at Devil’s Island with nothing; they had to build their own shelters and obtain their own food.  It is from Devil’s Island that Papillon escaped.  We got on the tender to go ashore about 1:30 and spent about two hours walking around the small island.  We saw a lot of wildlife including a macaw, parrot, monkeys, iguanas and an agouti (rodent).  There is also a small hotel, where people from the mainland come to relax.  It is a pretty place, but its history detracts from the beauty.  There is a small cemetery where children are buried.  When the prisoners died they were dumped in the ocean to become shark food.  There is also a small chapel.  A European Space Agency Tracking Station, near the hospital, seems out of place in this setting.  A helipad is in this area to provide access to the station.  Today we played Trivia both in the morning and afternoon.  We met two retired teachers from Dallas at breakfast.  They asked us to join their trivia team and we had a fun time with them.  The morning session was tough, obscure trivia and we only got half the questions right.  We did better in the afternoon, but the Texas couple wasn’t there.  If they had been, we probably would have won! We tied for first with two other teams but didn’t know the tie-breaker question.

Sunday, February 7th

This morning we attended a lecture about our ports on the Amazon.  We spent the afternoon relaxing.  After dinner we went to the lounge where the Super Bowl was shown on three big screens.  We were rooting for the Saints, so were happy with the outcome.  We watched the second half of the game in our cabin.

Another warm and humid day.  We walked about 3 miles around the island and were very ready for a shower when we got back to the ship.  It rained lightly for our last 45 minutes or so on the island, but it was more comfortable than if the sun had been bright.

Ship from Ile Royale

Ile Royale - Road to prison grounds

Ile Royale - Commandant's house

Ile Royale - Children's cemetery

Ile Royale - ESA tracking station

Ile Royale - hospital and lighthouse

Ile Royale - Chapel

Ile Royale - Agouti

Ile Royale - Macaw

Ile Royale - Hotel and reservoir

Ile Royale - Solitarty and condemned cells

Ile Royale - Solitarty cell

Ile Royale - Parrot

Ile Royale - Monkey

Devil's Island

Ile Royale - Hotel grounds

Ile Royale - Devil's Island in background

Ile Royale

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