Our adrenaline-pumped adventure was one of the numerous complimentary excursions offered to all guests during our week long meander through the islands of the Seychelles. We had also enjoyed hiking through the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve on Praslin Island, spotting rare Black Parrots and Cocoa de Mer trees with their cheekily shaped fruits. Successfully surviving our first wet landing onto the almost uninhabited Cousin Island, we had chased green crabs across the pristine sands and searched for geckos and Aldabra giant tortoises amongst the mangroves.
As seasoned Crystal cruisers but first-timers to the Seychelles, we were keen to experience the 'superyacht' herself. The moment we embarked, we were welcomed in that intangible 6 star way that has earned Crystal Cruises the highest awards and accolades during their 25 years of operation. However, this is where the yacht experience differed: instead of being one of 900 or so passengers, our boutique yacht carried just 62 guests and the friendly and personal service was evident from the outset.
Our suites were interconnecting and at 280 square feet each there was plenty of space for relaxation. Essentials included Billecart-Salmon champagne on ice, a Nespresso machine stocked to our preferences and a 42 inch flatscreen TV with movies on demand. Bathrooms were large, with twin sinks and huge walk-in showers, and completed with brightly coloured, Crystal branded Etro toiletries. Open seating for all meals suited the exclusively casual vibe of the yacht and the choice of cuisine and standard was exceptionally high. For Crystal Society members, imagine 'speciality restaurants' every evening.
Despite being 25 years old, the Esprit's interiors were sumptuously contemporary and 'yacht chic' and had been extensively and stylishly refitted. It was the intimacy of the Esprit that we enjoyed so much; we were instantly on first name terms with with crew and soon trading stories of our day with fellow guests, who appeared to have travelled from all corners of the globe. Some had chosen to add an African safari to their itinerary, or a few days in Dubai, whilst others were extending their stay on one of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles. The highlight for many was an opportunity to discover the underwater world of the Indian Ocean in the Crystal Submersible, a 3-person submarine that delved 15 metres into the turquoise waters, scouting for reef sharks, turtles and tropical fish. Several others experienced scuba diving adventures, deep-sea fishing or helicopter flightseeing.
The marina deck on board Esprit stocked a large choice of complimentary 'toys', such as jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks and snorkelling equipment, all of which we made much use of. Riding pillion with our daughters on jet skis amongst playful wild dolphins off Curieuse Island is a family memory we will treasure for a long time.
There was so much to do onboard the Crystal Esprit - a return visit is inevitable! We are already eyeing the Adriatic itineraries this summer, with white water rafting, more zip lining, kayaking, culture and snorkelling combined with long sunny days to explore the Dalmatian coastline.