The Indian Ocean is the ultimate cruise-and-flop destination, with sun-kissed islands and gorgeous sandy beaches that are gently lapped by vivid blue waters.
Most cruise lines sail through the region in early spring on their way to and from Europe, but a few companies base ships in the region. Variety Cruises has seven night cruises year-round from Victoria in the Seychelles; Crystal Cruises’ new yacht Crystal Esprit will be based there this winter.
Costa Cruises has a ship in Mauritius over winter; Silversea’s expedition ship Silver Discoverer will be voyaging through the region for the first time starting December 2016. Wherever you go, lazing on a beach is a big attraction but on the bigger islands excursions discover colourful temples, wildlife and exotic birds. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect.
Ships sail from Mahe, the main island and home to the capital, Victoria. If you’re cruising around the archipelago, nowhere is very far and the islands are small so there is ample time to go ashore and see the exotic birdlife and giant tortoises, and still have plenty of time to laze on a beach or go snorkelling or scuba diving.
One of the most beautiful islands in the world, Sri Lanka has lush landscapes and beautiful sandy beaches. Ships call at Colombo, the capital, from where there are excursions to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and the elephant orphanage at Pinnawala. Visit a tea plantation to sec how the leaves are plucked and graded to make our favourite hot beverage.
Ships dock in the capital, Port Louis, from where you can visit the beach or tour the city and taste rum at the sugar museum. Excursions around the south of the island visit the Trou aux Cerfs volcanic crater, the Sacred Lake of Grand Bassin, the Black River Gorge and the waterfalls and multi coloured sand dunes at Chamarel.
The Maldives is made up of more than 1,000 islands, many of them so small the whole island has been given over to one resort that you can walk around in 30 minutes. Ships dock in Male, the capital, which has a market and museum, but really this port is all about the water with swimming, diving or just lazing on a beach the prime attractions.
Ships mostly visit Nosy Be (meaning Big Island), from where there are tours in search of the island’s famous black lemurs and to see how oil is extracted from the flowers of the Ylang-Ylang tree to make perfumes.
Hell-Ville, the capital of Nosy Be, has a colourful market.Just outside of town is the 200-year-old sacred banyan tree that is revered by the Malagasy people.