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Mahe to Mahe
We find it difficult to imagine a more perfect way to escape the British winter than to enjoy the warmth and beauty of the Indian Ocean aboard the MS Caledonian Sky as she undertakes exactly the type of itinerary which suits her many talents best. In the depth of winter at home, you can join our all-suite vessel for an exploration of the islands and atolls of the Seychelles, one of the world’s most pristine and picturesque archipelagos and a veritable feast of beauty, the natural world and island culture. Our expedition focuses on the remote Outer Seychelles, tiny untouched islands and atolls of the Amirante Islands, Farquhar, Aldabra and Alphonse Groups. These minute dots on an atlas are truly magical places. For many the greatest highlight will be our visit to Aldabra, the world’s largest coral atoll and the last breeding ground of the giant tortoise and in addition to seeing some of these endearing creatures you should also encounter dolphins, turtles and whales as well as countless birds including the flightless rail, the last flightless bird in the Indian Ocean. Totally untouched by the modern world, Aldabra was described by Jacques Cousteau as ‘the last unprofaned sanctuary on this planet’. It is one of the most difficult places on earth to access and a lack of fresh water has saved Aldabra from any tourism development. There is no landing strip and the only viable means of reaching this and other Outer Seychelles islands is with an expedition vessel such as the MS Caledonian Sky. With our fleet of Zodiac landing craft we will be able to access wonderful places denied to larger ships and accompanied by our onboard experts you can learn of the marvellous flora and fauna during nature walks along the island trails, experience the underwater world when swimming or snorkelling and discover the sparkling lagoons from the Zodiacs.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight.
Arrive this morning and transfer to Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove (or similar) for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is at leisure to acclimatise before we meet for dinner this evening.
Spend the morning at leisure enjoying the hotel facilities, relaxing or exploring independently before we check out of our hotel. After lunch we will make our way to Victoria, one of the world’s tiniest capitals where we visit the market and the Botanical Gardens, home of the giant land tortoises, fruit bats and endemic plants which include the world famous coco de mer palms. Transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky in the late afternoon and enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail the short distance to Praslin for our overnight anchorage.
This morning we will land on Praslin to explore the ‘Vallee de Mai’, the last remnant of the original high canopied Seychelles palm forest and home to the coco de mer. We will walk its paths looking out for the rare black parrot and enjoying its natural beauty. Return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch as we sail the short distance to Grande Soeur, an idyllic uninhabited island. Spend the afternoon walking the island trails which link the island’s white sand beaches and maybe catch sight of some of the giant Aldabra tortoises or enjoy our first snorkelling opportunity in the turquoise waters.
Arrive over breakfast at the 28 islands in the Amirante Group of islands which were discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1501 and are considered to be some of the most pristine and untouched islands in the world. If conditions permit, we will spend the morning on Desroches, the largest of the islands, although still only measuring six kilometres by 1.5 kilometres. Enjoy nature walks with our naturalists and the island’s conservation team observing the flora and fauna and in particular the giant tortoises and nesting turtles. Whilst keen snorkellers will have the chance to swim over the outlying coral. Return to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon at sea.
This morning we will arrive at the Farquhar group of islands. We will use our Zodiacs to explore the sparkling lagoon of this remote atoll ringed island of coconut and casuarina trees. Hawksbill and green sea turtles come to the islands to nest and several of the Farquhar Group’s islands are Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. We will spend the morning either snorkelling over the coral reef or exploring the island’s past wandering around the settlement which once housed a thriving copra and fishing industry. Return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch as we continue our journey through the Outer Seychelles islands.
We have two days at the Aldabra group of islands. Our itinerary will be in the hands of our Expedition Leader and Captain who will monitor the local conditions to ensure we maximise our time here. Whilst our itinerary is flexible, we will hope to reach Cosmoledo where a huge ring of twelve islands circle a lagoon. Many of the atolls are still to be surveyed and we will explore some of them by Zodiac. This is an important bird area with all three species of booby found in the Seychelles including the last breeding site for the brown booby. Also spot sooty terns and great frigate birds. Additionally we will spend time on Aldabra, the island referred to by Sir Julian Huxley as “One of nature’s treasures and should belong to the whole world”. Aldabra is unique and every time we call at what is believed to be the world’s largest atoll, we find something new of interest. Sightings have been made of the extremely rare white throated rail and the atoll is also home to the world’s second largest colony of frigate birds and to the largest crab, the coconut crab. Whilst exploring by Zodiac it is difficult to know in which direction to look. The clear blue seas abound with life, the skies are alive with varied birdlife and ashore giant land tortoises forage as they have done for millions of years. We hope to explore Picard Island with a short walk to see some of the thousands of tortoises and numerous robber crabs or swim in the lagoon, a vast 17 mile stretch of shallow clear water. From our Zodiacs we can watch the everchanging undersea world and snorkel in colourful coral waters.
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea as we head back to the Inner Seychelles islands. Our lecture programme will continue or maybe find a spot on deck.
There are three islands in the Alphonse group which is located directly south of the Amirantes. As we approach the islands in the early morning, you will understand why they are regarded by many to be the most beautiful of the 115 islands in the Seychelles archipelago. On the main island the circular lagoon offers good snorkelling and there are several tracks across the island to enjoy island walks. Spend the morning exploring before returning to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch and an afternoon cruising.
We will use our Zodiacs to land on Aride, one of the finest and most important seabird islands in the Indian Ocean. Over one million seabirds breed on the island including tropical shearwater, lesser noddy, frigate birds and roseate tern in addition to five species unique to the Seychelles such as the Seychelles warbler and Seychelles magpie robin. The island is largely covered in native woodland including the endemic Wright’s gardenia, a shrub with beautifully scented flowers found nowhere else in the world. We will sail over lunch to Curieuse, a rugged island which was once home to a leper colony and now houses an eco-museum and visitor centre. The island is an important nesting site for hawksbill turtles and boasts endemic vine and mangroves which we explore on an island walk. This evening we will return to Mahe and moor overnight.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London. Arrive this afternoon.
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition Length: 90 metres Passenger Capacity: 114 (in 57 suites) Built: 1991 / refurbished 2012 The MS Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. There will be seven categories of suites and sixteen suites will have private balconies. For those familiar with the MS Island Sky she will feel like a second home, although there are some differences. The dining room, lounge, Lido Deck and bar are all similar. However, the ‘Club’ on the MS Caledonian Sky has been transported to the very top deck. Here, there is a library and bar which leads out on to a lovely forward deck. The ‘Club’ has wonderful views with ceiling to floor windows. If you like the MS Island Sky, we are sure you will also approve of her sister. And, of course it is important that we offer the very best of facilities. However, equally as important are the staff on board whether they are the vessel’s crew or our own expedition staff. Noble Caledonia’s reputation has been built on providing the very best in all areas. Their crew of 74 not only offer an excellent service they are also noted for their kindness and attention to detail. A well run ship with a warm atmosphere is what we are known for, and it is because most of our crew have been with us for many years that we are able to engender such an atmosphere. Your Suite Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. The passenger accommodation is arranged over four decks and all suites have outside views. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring a country style wash basin, hot towel rack and vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower and/or bath tub. Facilities in the suites also include walk-in or spacious wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool or desk, mini-fridge, flat screen television, telephone, programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Your space The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. In addition there is the Club Lounge on the Panoramic Deck which features a bar. The onboard travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. On the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. There is also a small gymnasium onboard and hairdressers with appointments made on request. Your dining With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the quality of cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, our accomplished chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order and lunch and dinner is à la carte. When weather permits, breakfast, a buffet-style lunch and dinner are also served on deck. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and tea and coffee are available 24 hours. With sufficient notice, most diets can be catered for on board. For your comfort, safety and security The vessel is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilisers to minimise the ship’s motion. The Captain and officers operate an open-bridge policy that allows passengers onto the bridge at most times with the exception of arrival and departure from port and during times of complicated navigation. Here you can check the ship’s progress by charts and learn more from the officers about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to outside decks only. Gratuities Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Caledonian Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included them in your holiday price. In addition we tip all their guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you.
• Discover Seychelles • Explore Amirante Islands • Enjoy Farquhar, Aldabra and Alphonse Groups