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.
Ponant's 184-guest Explorer Class yachts, will be based in the Seychelles during this winter 2023/24 season from December to March, cruising from Mahé and visiting the Seychelles' most famous islands as well as the Maldives, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. 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 608-guest Silver Spirit will embark on a Christmas voyage this December on a Mahé round trip which includes two full days in Zanzibar and Madagascar. She'll also embark on in-depth voyages between November and May in 2023, 2024 and 2025 between Mahe and Dubai, Cape Town or Doha, with highlights including the stunning beaches of La Digue and Aldabra on the April 2024 sailing, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises, providing a sanctuary for over 100,000 of these remarkable creatures.
A highlight is the March 2025 voyage, when Silver Spirit sails from Cape Town to Mahé, exploring South Africa's beautiful east coast, Mozambique, and Madagascar, before time in Praslin and La Digue.
We're very excited about Emerald Cruises' expansion from river to ocean cruises with their yachts, the 100-guest Emerald Azzura, which made her debut in the Red Sea at the end of January 2022, and sister ship Emerald Sakara just launched. Azzurra will explore the Seychelles on carefully crafted packages of varying lengths between December and March in 2025 and 2026, highlights of which are calls to Aride Island, a nature reserve hosting one of the most significant seabird populations in the Indian Ocean and the protected marine reserve that surrounds Curieuse Island.
Seabourn have a range of longer itineraries designed to explore this region in depth, such as a 24-night voyage in December 2024 from Mahé that calls in at the palm tree-fringed shores of Praslin before stops at Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa, the latter including Mossel Bay and Cape Town.
Longer itineraries include 52-, 62- and 90-day sailings, such as this unusual Grand Circumnavigation next November aboard Seabourn Sojourn, sailing round trip from Barcelona. Highlights include visits to Israel's holy cities, Christmas in the Seychelles, fascinating Madagascar and exploring South Africa, Namibia, Ghana and Gambia, including the remote and ruggedly beautiful Bom Bom Island, part of the little known West African nation of São Tomé and Principe, with golden beaches and jungle-swathed mountains.