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3 of the best small ship cruises to the Seychelles

Cruise Advice

The idea of playing castaway on a desert island is one of the most enduring fantasies in our popular culture, from Defoe's tales of Robinson Crusoe to celebrities discussing their music tastes on 'Desert Island Discs'.

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.

Red-footed booby in the Seychelles

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:

1. Ponant

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 Bougainville and Le Jacques Cartier, two of Ponant's new 184-guest Explorer Class yachts, will be based in the Seychelles during the winter 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons, 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.

Ponant's Le Lapérouse in the Indian Ocean

2. Silversea

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 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.

Then in March 2023 the 274-guest Silver Cloud sails from Cape Town to Mahé, exploring South Africa's beautiful east coast, Mozambique, the perfumed islands of Comoros, and Madagascar, before two days exploring the Aldabra Atoll and time in Praslin and La Digue.

Silversea Expeditions in the Seychelles

3. Emerald Cruises

We're very excited about Emerald Cruises' expansion from river to ocean cruises with their first yacht, the 100-guest Emerald Azzura, due to make her debut in the Red Sea at the end of January 2022. Sister ship Emerald Sakara will follow in 2023 with her first four voyages set to explore the Seychelles on carefully crafted 10-night packages, highlights of which are calls to Aride Island, a nature reserve hosting one of the most significant seabird populations in the Indian Ocean, the white sandy beaches of Grande Soeur Island and the protected marine reserve that surrounds Curieuse Island.

Emerald Cruises - Emerald Sakara
Tom O'Hara
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Tom is Marketing Manager at Mundy Cruising

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