Island Hopping in the Seychelles

Island Hopping in the Seychelles

From GBP £7,995

Description

Join us aboard the delightful MS Serenissima as we explore the bountiful islands of the Indian Ocean. The Seychelles offers the visitor a tropical beauty that is difficult, if not impossible to match anywhere else in the world. Spread out over a vast area of the Indian Ocean, they offer everything from quiet sophistication and enchanting scenery to wild and uninhabited nature reserves, where the very remoteness of the islands has protected them from the worst excesses of mankind. We know the region well having operated vessels here for the past twenty five years, and those who have sailed with us through these extraordinary waters have experienced the magic of dropping anchor off a remote atoll at first light and venturing ashore by Zodiac, landing on a deserted beach to discover the rich bird and marine life, the exotic flora, nature reserves and working estates.

If ever there was a region perfect for expedition cruising it is here and the MS Serenissima is the perfect size and equipped vessel for our voyage. Our journey will include all aspects of this extraordinary island nation from the developed Inner Seychelles with staggeringly beautiful islands such as Praslin and La Digue to the less known and rarely visited Outer Seychelles. Here we will sail all the way to Aldabra, the world’s largest coral atoll and a World Heritage Site. Being one of the most difficult places in the world to access and having a lack of freshwater has saved Aldabra from any tourism development and only small vessels like the MS Serenissima are allowed to visit. It is therefore a great privilege to be able to land on the untouched beaches of Aldabra, the breeding ground for thousands of giant tortoise and home to some of the rarest birds in the Indian Ocean. To explore the abundant crystal clear waters of the vast lagoon and to set foot on atolls which have never been exploited by the hand of man is a rare experience.

Trip Name
Island Hopping in the Seychelles
Days
17
Overview
Vessel Type: Small Ship Length: 87 metres Passenger Capacity: 95 Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013 / 2018 MS Serenissima is a charming vessel and one of her best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During a major refit the then owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create a Gustavian style interior. This bright Swedish 18th century influenced, country house style works particularly well on a vessel of this vintage, providing intimacy and classic nautical sensibility often lacking in larger vessels. The vessel is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac landing craft allowing us to visit remote places where normal tender arrangements are not possible. The European Captain, Officers, Expedition Staff, and crew offer a first class service and have been selected for their professionalism and caring attitudes. The atmosphere on board is warm and welcoming and dedicated to discovery and relaxation. AIR-CONDITIONING The ship is air conditioned throughout. Please note that only the Serenissima Suites have individually controlled air-conditioning. DAILY PROGRAMME A Daily Programme, detailing the following day’s arrangements as well as any specific information about the day’s activities is produced onboard and delivered to your cabin each evening during the turn down service. DINING, DRINKING AND DIETARY REQUIREMENTS The Venice Restaurant onboard serves international cuisine and accommodates all guests at a single open seating. Tables seat 4 to 10 diners. In addition, there is an outside dining area for when the weather and itinerary permit. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style, dinner is waiter service only. Complimentary (red and white) house wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. Bar drinks and other beverages with meals are not included; these may be purchased onboard and paid for at the end of your cruise. Complimentary tea and coffee are available between 07:00 hours and 23:00 hours at the tea and coffee station located in the Andrea lounge. Please advise of any special dietary requests in advance. DISABLED FACILITIES The ship can accommodate passengers with mobility restrictions and wheelchair dependent passengers in cabin 407, which has a wider door and no step into/out of the bathroom and shower area. There is a lift serving decks 3 to 6, but there is no stair lift. DOCTOR A medical doctor is available on board 24 hours a day. A fee is charged for any consultations and medication prescribed. Please ensure you carry adequate supplies of any regular medications you may require.  ELECTRICITY The electrical outlets in the cabins and public areas are 220V and take a two-round-pin plug (as in continental Europe). There is a 110/220V, 60Hz outlet for electric shavers in the bathroom. We recommend that you bring an international adaptor. GRATUITIES Gratuities to crew and whilst on excursions are included in the cost of your holiday. INTERNET The onboard library has a computer equipped for email/internet access and Wi-Fi access is available in public areas, although you will require your own laptop, tablet or smartphone, and charges apply – 100mb for €15 Euros, or 500mb for €25 Euros. Please note that connection is dependent on weather conditions and location. LANGUAGE All members of the crew speak English. MONEY The following payment methods are accepted for settlement of shipboard accounts: Cash (Euros or British Pounds), Credit Card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express), Debit Card (MasterCard and Visa). Please note that personal cheques and Travellers’ Cheques are not accepted. PUBLIC AREAS • Andrea Lounge (on Deck 5). The bar is open from 11.00 until 24.00. • Harald Jarl Lounge (on Deck 5). There is a small library here with books and games. There is also a computer for public use (charges apply for internet access) • Lido area (on Deck 5) with a Jacuzzi and fitness room with two running machines • Observation Deck (access from Deck 5 lido area) • Deck 5 and Deck 6 outside seating areas SNORKELLING Snorkelling equipment is kept onboard. Please note that there is no snorkelling from Zodiacs. All snorkelling stops will operate from a beach.  TELEVISION The ship is equipped with a satellite TV system which receives 15 channels. TV reception depends on the satellite dish and on occasion it may not be possible to receive a signal. There is one central video channel on which it is possible to listen to the lectures delivered in the Andrea Lounge. There is also a channel for the ship’s camera located in front of the ship. ZODIACS Some destinations may require the use of Zodiacs to go ashore. These are usually on expedition cruises though may sometimes be used on destination cruises. 

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 - London to Mahe, Seychelles.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Mahe.
Arrive today and transfer to the MS Serenissima for embarkation. Enjoy Welcome Drinks and Dinner as we remain moored overnight.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Aride & Curieuse.
Sail in the early morning to Aride one of the finest and most important seabird islands in the Indian Ocean. Over one million seabirds breed on the island including tropical shearwater, lesser noddy, frigate birds and roseate tern in addition to five species unique to the Seychelles such as the Seychelles warbler and Seychelles magpie robin. The island is largely covered in native woodland, including the endemic Wright’s gardenia, a shrub with beautifully scented flowers found nowhere else in the world. We will sail over lunch to Curieuse, a rugged island which was once home to a leper colony and now houses an eco-museum and visitor centre. The island is an important nesting site for hawksbill turtles and boasts endemic vine and mangroves which we will explore on an island walk.
Day 4 - Day 4 - Praslin & La Digue.
From our overnight anchorage we will land on Praslin to explore the ‘Vallee de Mai’, the last remnant of the original high canopied Seychelles palm forest and home to the coco de mer. We will walk its paths looking out for the rare black parrot and enjoying its natural beauty. Return to the ship for lunch as we sail the short distance to La Digue where huge granite boulders lie like giant sculptures on the brilliant white beaches of the island. Tour the forested nature reserve and the L’Union Estate, a superbly restored 19th century colonial house. Rent a bicycle, relax or swim from one of the beaches.
Day 5 - Day 5 - Amirante Islands.
The 28 islands in the Amirante Group of islands were discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1501 and are considered to be some of the most pristine and untouched islands in the world. We hope to spend time on Desroches, the largest of the islands, although still only measuring six kilometres by 1.5 kilometres. Enjoy nature walks with our onboard naturalists and the island’s conservation team observing the flora and fauna and in particular the giant tortoises and nesting turtles. Keen snorkellers will have the chance to swim over the outlying coral.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Alphonse Islands.
There are three islands in the Alphonse group which is located directly south of the Amirantes. As we approach the islands over lunch you will understand why they are regarded by many to be the most beautiful of the 115 islands in the Seychelles archipelago. On the main island the circular lagoon offers good snorkelling and there are a number of tracks across the island to enjoy island walks.
Day 7 - Day 7 - Farquhar Islands.
After a morning at sea we will anchor off Farquhar over lunch where we will use our Zodiacs to explore the sparkling lagoon of this remote atoll ringed island of coconut and casuarina trees. Hawksbill and green sea turtles come to the atoll to nest, and several of the Farquhar Group’s islands are Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. The island is a haven providing us with a delightful afternoon of bird watching or snorkelling.
Day 8 - Days 8-10 - Aldabra Islands.
We have two and a half days to enjoy the Aldabra group of islands and our itinerary will be in the hands of our Expedition Leader and Captain who will monitor the local conditions to ensure we maximise our time here. Whilst our itinerary is flexible we hope to reach Cosmoledo where a huge ring of twelve islands circle a lagoon. Many of the atolls are still to be surveyed and we will explore some of them by Zodiac. This is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area with all three species of booby found in the Seychelles including the last breeding site for the brown booby. Also spot sooty terns and great frigate birds. We will also spend time on Aldabra, the island referred to by Sir Julian Huxley as “One of nature’s treasures and should belong to the whole world”. Aldabra is unique and every time we call at what is believed to be the world’s largest atoll we find something new of interest. Sightings have been made of the extremely rare white-throated rail and the atoll is also home to the world’s second largest colony of frigate birds and to the largest crab, the coconut crab. Whilst exploring by Zodiac it is difficult to know in which direction to look. The clear blue seas abound with life, the skies are alive with varied birdlife and ashore giant land tortoises forage as they have done for millions of years. We hope to explore Picard Island with a short walk to see the tortoises and numerous robber crabs or swim in the lagoon, a vast 17 mile stretch of shallow clear water. From our Zodiacs we can watch the ever-changing undersea world and snorkel in colourful coral waters.
Day 9 - Day 11 - At Sea.
Our lecture programme continues as we spend the day at sea sailing towards Tanzania.
Day 10 - Day 12 - Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania.
Our first call in Tanzania will be at Kilwa Kisiwani, a site of exceptional historical interest, where the atmospheric ruins represent a wide sweep of East African coastal history, from the heights of the Swahili and Shirazi trading civilisation to the darker days of slavery and the uprisings against German rule. Once one of Africa’s wealthiest towns, Kilwa Kisiwani is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains the world’s most extensive and best preserved Swahili ruins. On a morning walking tour we will see the prominent fort and the Great Mosque which stood at the heart of the ancient city and was once the largest in East Africa. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure or join members of the expedition team on one of the nearby beaches.
Day 11 - Day 13 - Mafia Island.
Once a prominent stopover for ships on the trade routes from East Africa, Mafia Island has not seen the same development as nearby Zanzibar and remains relatively unknown and off the major tourist trail but is a wonderful spot to spend the day. There will be a choice of tours today. Take a dhow across to the charming islet of Chole with its small community where we will visit the sanctuary for Comoros flying foxes, the 12th century Arabic ruins overgrown by vines, and a traditional boat yard after which we can enjoy a cooling refreshment at the Red Herring bar. The village is traditionally famous for its weaving of the date palm fibres (ukindu) to make brightly coloured baskets, placemats and floor mats which we will have the chance to purchase. Alternatively, for the more intrepid and agile, there will be the chance to embark local boats to search for whale sharks, and if conditions allow we may also be able to swim alongside them (please note this tour is weather dependent and numbers are limited).
Day 12 - Days 14-15 - Zanzibar.
Here the colourful harbour will be crowded with dhows, very much setting the scene for our visit to the Arab style city with its long narrow streets, bazaars, houses with overhanging balconies and intricately carved doorways. Out of town there are magnificent brilliant white sandy beaches and lush vegetation with plantations of cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg which fill the air with heady aromas. We have two days on the island offering a number of touring options. Soak up the timeless atmosphere of Stone Town including Livingstone House, Sultan’s Palace, the slave market and the old fort. Visit a spice farm to experience the various fruits and spices cultivated on the island where you will find everything from jackfruit to coconuts, turmeric and vanilla to lipstick trees. There will also be the opportunity to visit the Jozani Forest which sustains a variety of wildlife and birds, including the rare red colobus monkey, indigenous to the island.
Day 13 - Day 16 - Dar es Salaam to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 14 - Day 17 - London.
Arrive this morning.
Day 15 - Please Note:
Flexibility is the key to an expedition cruise; sometimes the whole day’s schedule will be changed to maximise your experience, something that would not be possible on a large cruise ship. Each day holds something new and below are some extracts from recent ship logs to provide you with an understanding of what you can expect from such an expedition:

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £7,995Standard Single
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £7,995Standard Stateroom
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £8,295Classic Stateroom
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £8,495Superior Stateroom
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £8,795Deluxe Stateroom
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £8,995Junior Suite
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £9,795Owners Suite
07-12-201923-12-2019GBP £10,495Serenissima Suite

Inclusions

    • Sail to Aride one of the finest and most important seabird islands in the Indian Ocean
    • Land on Praslin to explore the ‘Vallee de Mai’, the last remnant of the original high canopied Seychelles palm forest and home to the coco de mer
    • Have two and a half days to enjoy the Aldabra group of islands
    • In Tanzania explore Kilwa Kisiwani, a site of exceptional historical interest, where the atmospheric ruins represent a wide sweep of East African coastal history

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