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A Seychelles Cruise

Republic of Seychelles

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One of the interesting things about the Seychelles is that they have no people of their own. The islands, which lie about nine hundred miles off the east coast of Africa, a little to the north of Madagascar, didn’t attract any human inhabitation until the colonial era. The result is that the modern population of the archipelago nation represents something of a melting pot – the people here have French, Spanish, English, African and Indian blood, though everyone is so intermingled it’s difficult to tell who comes from which background.

The Seychelles is one of those nations which are huge yet tiny. Spread out over nearly a thousand miles of ocean, the archipelago consists of 115 islands, of which only thirty-three are inhabited: most of the population lives in and around the capital city, Victoria, on the island of Mahé. The Seychelles have long been popular with vacationers and cruisers because of the very high quality of the land and seascape and the reliability of the climate. Because it consists of so many islands, the country has hundreds and hundreds of miles of fantastically beautiful beaches, many of them entirely deserted. As the Seychelles lie outside the cyclone belt, they’re not prey to the extreme weather which can cause problems elsewhere in the Indian Ocean.

All this makes the Seychelles an ideal cruise destination. If you’re heading away on a Seychelles cruise the chances are that your itinerary will have you weaving between the islands, occasionally stopping off at places of interest. The great benefit of seeing the islands from on board ship is that it’s possible to stop in some of the more remote spots – very often cruise captains anchor is secluded, quiet bays and deliver passengers to deserted beaches by launch. Away from the centers of population there is also a wide variety of watersports to enjoy around the Seychelles. The country is particularly well known for the quality of the Scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities that it offers: most cruise lines build the chance to participate in one or both of these activities into their itineraries. Don’t worry if you have no experience of plunging head first into the ocean: the Seychelles have plenty of dive schools, and there’s a good chance that your cruise line will have brought a dive instructor along to give you some excellent small-group tuition.

If you enjoy getting up close and personal with the natural world, you’ll love the Seychelles. The local ecosystem is so rich that over fifty percent of the islands’ land area has been set aside as nature reserve. You’ll probably find that your cruise line organizes nature excursions with knowledgeable local guides. However, if you have the time and you’re feeling fit, one of the best ways to appreciate the national flora and fauna is to take one of the country’s many hiking trails. These tend to be on the larger inhabited islands like Mahé and Silhouette. If you’re lucky and you venture out at the right time of day you might get to see the endangered Seychelles Scops Owl. One notorious resident of the islands’ forests that much easier to track down is the pitcher plant, so named because it resembles an enormous water pitcher, full of sweet sticky liquid. The pitcher plant gets its murderous reputation from its eating habits: small insects are lured into the plant to get at the sweet juice, whereupon they get stuck and ultimately digested. Don’t worry – the pitcher plant has never eaten a human being. Yet…

If you like to get your excitement a little closer to water, the Seychelles feature some of the world’s very best fishing. You may find that your cruise has chartered a boat and a fish instructor for those who wish to go out in pursuit of fish like the dog-tooth tuna. Additionally, some of the outlying islands present excellent opportunities for salt water fly casting – once again, equipment and instruction may be provided by your cruise, and if it isn’t it’s easy enough to hire it locally. The cuisine of the Seychelles is very heavily fish-based, so if you catch some tuna and get it back to ship or shore while it’s still fresh, you could find yourself eating your catch that very evening for dinner.

Owing to the size of the Seychelles – or rather the huge area of sea that the islands cover - they’re pretty much a cruise to themselves: itineraries tend to start and finish on Mahé, with flights in and out of the island’s international airport. But with their beautiful scenery and wonderful, stable climate, they make for one of the best cruise destinations on the planet.

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