The Seychelles by sea

The Seychelles are small islands in the Indian Ocean, as such, the best way to visit is to travel by sea.

Small boat sailing

We spent most of our time on our trip to the Seychelles on a sailboat as part of a cruise organized by King Yacht Charters and Cruising World

We aren’t particularly skilled sailors, but we have done some freshwater sailing and enjoy being on the water – and being on the water seemed like the best way to visit the Seychelles.

Flotilla tours

A flotilla cruise seemed like a good way for us – with an interest in sailing but very limited experience – to tour the islands. We were able to book a cabin on a boat captained by someone else – we just had to pay our share of the costs and chip in as crew. Our flotilla consisted of five boats – two catamarans and three monohulls (what you are envisioning as a “sailboat”), each with space for 6-8 people.  Because we were part of a flotilla, we had the knowledge of a local captain who established itineraries, directed us to the best sites on land and shore, made tour arrangements, and solved equipment and other problems. Carol and Peter King also traveled with the flotilla (as they do on all their tours), giving us access to their years of experience and great stories.

This is a great way to travel for someone who enjoys sailing, but doesn’t feel competent to take out a boat on their own. However, it does have its challenges:  you are living in close quarters with people you may not know, you are financially liable for damage to the boat along with the designated captain, and you have to work – there are always tasks to be done on a boat, including cooking and cleaning. A degree of cooperation, patience, and trust is needed for an enjoyable trip.

Flotilla tours are available at various locations around the world. Sometimes these tours are “bareboat” (you rent the boat and are responsible for everything else), sometimes they are fully crewed (including a cook), and sometimes they are a bit in between (our bareboat rental was fully provisioned by the tour company, meaning all the food we would need was provided and we just had to turn it into meals).

Although trips of this type aren’t cheap, for the Seychelles (where both food and lodging tend to be expensive and options for moving between islands are limited), sailing wasn’t that much more expensive than spending the same amount of time at nice resorts. You could do a similar trip for less by staying at budget lodgings and traveling by ferry and charter motor boat, but probably without getting to as many islands.

Boat charters

While we were on an organized cruise, it also possible to charter a boat – either fully crewed or bareboat – and set your own itinerary. Sunsail and Moorings operate in the Seychelles, as do a number of other charter companies.

Tall ships and cruise ships

An old-fashioned sailing experience

Silhouette cruises offers weekly sailing trips aboard the traditionally-rigged Sea Pearl and her sister ship the Sea Shell.

Luxury cruises

The itinerary varies with the season, but is roughly similar to the itinerary for my trip. The same itineraries are also available on the modern sailing ships the Sea Star and Sea Bird. Each ship has 8 or 9 cabins and offers guests opportunities to explore in the water and on land. While the modern sailing ships lack the romance of sailing on a traditionally rigged tall ship, the accommodations look much more luxurious.

Variety Cruises’ Pegasus is based in the Seychelles and offers 4 to 8 night itineraries in the islands. This is more of a mega yacht than a cruise ship, taking only 44 passengers.

Cruise ships

Many of the major cruise lines (Princess, Crystal, and Oceania among them) include the Seychelles as part of grand tours that cross the Indian Ocean. While this would not be my choice for visiting the Seychelles (since so many of the most idyllic spots are tiny islands and bays), for those who enjoy ocean-going cruises, it would be a beautiful port of call.

Ferry service

For those not traveling by sailboat or cruise ship, regular ferry service connects Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. Seychelles Holidays Direct has good information on the ferry system, including schedules.

Transfer and Tour Services

There are always boats available (arrange through your hotel) for visitors wishing to take a day trip to snorkel or explore a nearby island. Both Mahé and Praslin have easily accessible islands perfect for day trips very nearby.

Think of it as Camping
Photo Thursday: The Sea Pearl

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