But the reality, of course, is that being confined to a small island can quickly become dull. Take the Seychelles, for example; if you opt for a land-based holiday here - even a multi-centre trip visiting two or three islands - you are going to miss out on so many of the highlights. Beyond the exclusive beach resorts that the Seychelles is known for, you'll find unspoilt jungles full of rare tropical birds, coral reefs teeming with colourful marine life, and outlying atolls where giant tortoises congregate in their thousands.
A small ship cruise allows you to visit the more remote corners of the archipelago, and you have a few different options. Few cruise lines regularly operate dedicated Seychelles cruises, but plenty of ships stop off here while repositioning across the Indian Ocean. The most straightforward choice is a round-trip sailing from the main island, Mahé, where the international airport is located, though you will also find occasional voyages from ports in East Africa and Indian Ocean islands such as Mauritius. Look out for rare itineraries combining the Seychelles with Madagascar, Zanzibar or the Maldives, including some fascinating expedition-style options.
Here is our pick of the best small ship cruise lines visiting the Seychelles over the next couple of years:
As a former French colony and a member of the Francophonie, the Seychelles naturally attracts plenty of Gallic visitors to its sandy shores, and French cruise line Ponant offers an extensive Seychelles programme. Le Bellot, one of the new 184-guest Explorer Class yachts, will be based in the Seychelles during the winter 2021/22 season, cruising from Mahé and visiting outlying islands such as the remote Cosmoledo Atoll, known as the 'Galapagos of the Indian Ocean'. There are also a couple of intriguing Seychelles itineraries between Zanzibar and Mahé, which include calls at the Tanzanian islands of Pemba and Kilwa Kisiwani.
Silversea's expedition ships are occasional visitors to the Seychelles, and the 144-guest Silver Explorer will be living up to her name in April 2022 with an in-depth 15-night voyage from Zanzibar to Mahé, which includes two full days in the Aldabra Atoll. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises, providing a sanctuary for over 100,000 of these remarkable creatures. Other highlights include the rarely visited Farquhar Atoll and the stunning beaches of La Digue.
We're very excited about new cruise line Tradewind Voyages, which launched this summer, and the 272-guest Golden Horizon - the world's largest square-rigged sailing ship - was due to be in the Seychelles in 2022. Unfortunately, due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, Tradewind have had to amend their schedules, but we expect to see the ship in the Indian Ocean in 2023 - watch this space for more news!