Silversea Luxury Cruises À Ile Royale

Ile Royale

You wouldn't know it, as you approach the soft sands and gently waving weave of palm trees, but this tropical paradise once stashed away some of France's most notorious criminals. Home to one of history's most remote and brutal penal colonies, Ile Royale is one of three - somewhat ironically named - Salvation Islands. The neighbouring Devil's Island's title offers some honest insight into how these islands were previously thought of. View more

Nowadays, you'll discover a heavenly escape of tropical beaches, and jungle reclaiming the island from the prison’s imprint and cleansing its dark history within a cloak of verdant green. The setting for Steve McQueen's Papillon, and indeed the 2017 remake, the films tell the story of Henri Charriere's attempted escapes from these notoriously impossible to leave islands, which lie seven miles offshore from French Guiana. Unravel the stories for yourself, as you explore the ruins that have been left behind. Wander to the chapel that was constructed by prisoners, as well as the island's hospital and staff quarters. There's incredible wildlife among the penal colony's ruins too. Cute agouti sniff tentatively at fallen coconuts, vast sea turtles lounge around, squirrel monkeys clamber up through the vegetation, and giant iguanas bask in the sun's glow. Wander the path that loops around the island's circumference to spot them, and to discover the lay of the land. Now administered by the French equivalent of NASA, CNES, the islands are occasionally cleared, as rocket launches roar up into the sky overhead.

An Introduction to Silversea Cruises

The romance of the seas, small ship sizes and intimate atmosphere, Silversea has long been a leader in the ultra-luxury market. Travelling to both iconic and secluded ports, Silversea’s award-winning itineraries inspire wanderlust and exploration. With over 900 destinations, longer port stays and more late-night departures than ever before, even the savviest traveler will find something new. A butler for every suite, a complimentary in-suite bar stocked with your preferences, all-inclusive exquisite dining, award-winning onboard entertainment and an unparalleled space to guest ratio all contribute to the Silversea experience. Not forgetting our famed Italian hospitality, where new faces become old friends. Bienvenuti a bordo.

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Excursions depuis Ile Royale

Ile Royale Self Exploration

This is a self-exploration opportunity and advanced reservations are not required.

The Salvation Islands (Îles du Salut) are a group of small islands of volcanic origin about 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) off the coast of French Guiana.

There are three islands, from North to South, Devil's Island (Île du Diable), Royale Island (Île Royale) and Saint-Joseph Island (Île Saint-Joseph).

The islands were part of what became one of the most infamous prison systems in history, for only the worst criminals of France. They are featured in the book Papillon (1969), published as a memoir by Henri Charrière, a former prisoner who escaped.

Today, visitors arrive at Ile Royale, the larger of the two islands (out of three) which can be visited, to experience the haunting history of this former penal colony. Pathways allow you to circle the island and to wander among the overgrown ruins of prison cells and administrative buildings. A restoration program has been successful in recovering some of the buildings, one of which now houses a small museum. There is also a hotel, the Auberge Iles du Salut, providing modest tourist facilities.

While there are no organised excursions available, some local English-speaking guides from the mainland are available for directions and to provide information.

After tendering ashore, visitors will be attended by the guides for a brief historical presentation of the Islands.

From 1852 to 1948, the main penal colonies were established on the three French Salvation Islands to hold the most notorious criminals and political outcasts. Those who were sentenced to seven or more years and survived were required to remain in French Guiana for life. Of 80,000 prisoners sent to the islands, some 50,000 died here. Ile Royale housed the administrative centre and the wardens' accommodations. The complex was virtually a self-contained community with houses, offices, a hospital, bakery, butcher shop and church.

On nearby Devil's Island are the ruins of the facility used for housing political prisoners. Here the inmates were often left without guards, since strong currents and sharks made a getaway virtually impossible. To this day there are no proper facilities to land on Devil's Island and therefore visit is prohibited. All penal facilities in French Guiana were finally shut down in the 1940s.

The staff will be on hand to direct you towards the walking paths that lead uphill, where the majority of the buildings, including the museum and the small hotel are located.

Walking on the island is on hilly and uneven paths; the road circling the island is mostly on flat ground. The climate is hot and humid. Wear lightweight clothing, a sun hat and your walking shoes to explore this remote and exotic location. Tenders will be running continuously during our stay, so you may return to the ship at any time.

An Introduction to Silversea Cruises

The romance of the seas, small ship sizes and intimate atmosphere, Silversea has long been a leader in the ultra-luxury market. Travelling to both iconic and secluded ports, Silversea’s award-winning itineraries inspire wanderlust and exploration. With over 900 destinations, longer port stays and more late-night departures than ever before, even the savviest traveler will find something new. A butler for every suite, a complimentary in-suite bar stocked with your preferences, all-inclusive exquisite dining, award-winning onboard entertainment and an unparalleled space to guest ratio all contribute to the Silversea experience. Not forgetting our famed Italian hospitality, where new faces become old friends. Bienvenuti a bordo.