By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Just think the word Seychelles and immediately idyllic pictures come to mind. White deserted sand beaches, warm crystal clear water, waves lapping against big pink granite rocks, ageless tortoises, lush tropical vegetation, countless multicoloured fish… heaven on earth. Variety Cruises can take you there for a one-week trip from island to island where every new day is a fresh adventure building memories to cherish for a lifetime. Let’s get onboard.
The Seychelles really lives up to their reputation. These islands were able to preserve their unique nature and although tourism is the main local industry the landscape didn’t get spoiled with uncontrolled construction. This vast archipelago seems to be lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean and the nearest inhabited land is the island of Madagascar 1,000 km away. This may be the reason why there were no human beings on the islands until the first European explorers discovered them in the 16th century. Today there are less than 100,000 inhabitants, a successful melting pot of European, African and Chinese people who speak Creole, English and French. The Seychelles is an independent state member of both the Commonwealth and the Francophonie (French speaking communities).
Why choose Variety Cruises?
Variety Cruises is a Greek company founded in 1949 by Diogenis Venetopoulos. It has remained in the same family ever since and today is grandson Filipos is in charge and is doing a great job developing the family business. From the beginning the company has proposed 7-day experiences at sea and they have built a world of experience through these decades. It is a human-sized company, taking travellers on board 8 small ships and 3 private yachts. The number and size of boats may seem small but Variety Cruises can nonetheless fulfil demanding guests’ expectations.
They organise cruises on all five continents and can take you cruising to 130 different ports of call in Greece, Costa Rica and Panama, Egypt, Israel and Jordan, Spain and Portugal, Tahiti, the Seychelles, Cape Verde, West Africa… Classical or unusual each itinerary proposes tailor made shore excursions made to give you a real insight over local culture and nature. Each cruise also is an opportunity to savour local food prepped on board by the chef. During our cruise in the Seychelles we were positively surprised by the good mood of the crew. We at first thought that this cheerfulness could just be commercial behaviour but we soon found out that each member of the international crew was genuinely kind and caring. They kept telling us that they feel like a family, the Variety Cruises family, and guests are welcome to be part of it. As soon as you have completed your first cruise you automatically join the Variety Club and the Variety Cruises’ Loyalty Program.
This program gives you the opportunity to enjoy exclusive benefits and rewards as soon as you book your next Variety cruise. You can thus have a 5% saving on your 2nd to 4th voyage, a 10% saving on your 5th and + voyage and a 50% saving on your 10th cruise! You can also get other bonuses such as cabin category upgrade, referral rewards, monthly E-News including Club exclusive offers, Club competitions and events. On your next cruise you will have onboard credits, complimentary WIFI and shore excursions. For example the company organises an annual photo competition. To participate you just have to send them your best shots of your cruise. The lucky winner will win a complementary cruise for two and 3 runner-ups will get €200 shipboard credit to spend on their next cruise. Welcome in the Variety Cruises big family!
8-day cruise in the Seychelles on board the MY Pegasos
The 8-day cruise proposed by Variety Cruises will take you to the 6 must-see islands of the Seychelles, Mahe, Praslin, Curieuse, Cousin, La Digue and Moyenne. These islands are part of the Inner Islands group located at the northern part of the archipelago. The Inner Islands are mostly granitic and only two of them are coralline. So don’t expect to see tropical flat islands surrounded by a lagoon and a coral ring. Here the islands look like the peak of tall mountains emerging from the ocean. They are covered with lush green vegetation only broken by tempting sandy beaches that most of the time can only be reached by boat. Beach landing is a part of the experience with dry or wet landing, and when you have to get down from the big zodiac of the Pegasos in the water (not over your knees!) you can feel like a real adventurer. And the high-speed dry landing at Cousin Island is not to be missed, trust us!
You will be cruising onboard the MY -Motor Yacht- Pegasos. Thanks to the Seychelles’ mild climate she can sails all year round and you can enjoy a summer or winter cruise at your convenience. Pegasos is 148ft long making her a small cruising boat that allows her to go to places where bigger ships can’t have access. She has 21 cabins and can welcome at most 44 guests. You will enjoy a vast indoor lounge area with comfortable deep sofas and a bar where Dennis is in charge, always ready to fix you a drink with a smile and a joke. There is also an outdoor lounge and bar on the upper deck with a stunning 360° view.
Meals are served weather in the outdoor or the inner dining areas and it really feels like a rare privilege to have dinner under the stars before party on the upper deck until late at night. The cruise is on a full board basis and you will enjoy a delicious cuisine made with local products picked on the different islands visited on the way. Once again service is fast, efficient and always with a smile.
All of the 21 cabins have ocean view through pretty large windows. The decoration is a nice mix of blue, white and beige. They all have air conditioning, flat screen TV, mini-fridge and safe. The Pegasos is going to go under a total 2-week renovation of all the bathrooms on board in July so if you book a cruise after the end of the month you will enjoy a brand new bathroom.
Four of the six shore excursions are included in your cruise package. You will have to pay extra to visit the Vallée de Mai in Praslin and La Digue. The cruise starts in Port Victoria in Mahe Island. After a welcome cocktail and the mandatory safety drill Pegasos sails to St Anne Island where you can enjoy a refreshing swim from the lower deck of the boat. The following morning a short sail takes you to Curieuse.
Curieuse is a small island home and sanctuary of the iconic giant tortoises of the Seychelles. These peaceful animals that can live for centuries are not afraid of men and you will be able to feed and stroke them. They are very sensitive beings and are able to feel a stroke even on their thick shell that is richly innervated. This is the reason why you should never try to seat on a tortoise it can really hurt them. The excursion continues on a path going through a vast mangrove forest sheltering a rich wild life. Back on the beach you will enjoy a big BBQ lunch prepped by the Pegasos’ crew before swimming, snorkeling or paddling in the warm waters of Curieuse Island.
The next day was my favourite one! Cousin Island is a bird sanctuary in the care of Bird Life International. Seychelles is one of the world’s leading countries to protect threatened species. This is a success story in Cousin where a quarter million birds breed and where tortoises go to lay their eggs. There are no predators on the island and birds are absolutely not afraid of men. You will be able to get very close to them, to their nests and to cute baby birds.
In the afternoon we sailed to Praslin Island, directly to Anze Lazio beach. This iconic beach is said to be the most beautiful Seychelles beach, and visitors make selfies by dozens.
On the following morning you will enjoy relaxing moments at Anse Georgette that is said to be the second most beautiful beache of Praslin Island. This is the perfect paradise beach you’ve been dreaming of with the ocean taking different shades of blue, the pristine white sand and the tall palm trees striking a pose just for you to take pictures. In the afternoon Pegasos sails to St Pierre a tiny islet that has an incredibly rich underwater life. It’s time to go snorkeling and swimming to discover this unique colourful show. Maybe you will see a few small sharks!
On the next day it will be time to discover the emblematic coco-de-mer, also known as coco-fesse, the famous coconut that grows only on a few islands in the Seychelles. In Praslin they grow in the Vallée de Mai Reserve. You will make a guided tour of this World Heritage Site in the shade of different kinds of tall palm trees and if you are lucky you will also get a glimpse of the rare black parrot that lives only in Praslin. Before getting back onboard you will enjoy a refreshing swim on the beautiful Cote d’Or beach.
The next day is dedicated to the local coconut oil and vanilla production in La Digue Island. They are made at the Union Estate set in a typical colonial plantation house and you will discover all the making process of these deliciously smelling products. Then it will be time for picnic on the magnificent Anse Source d’Argent beach and its picturesque pink granite big rocks.
On the last day of the cruise, you will discover Moyenne Island. This island was made famous by its last owner Brendon Grimshaw who bought it in 1962 for £8,000. During the following 20 years he totally transformed and brought back to life Moyenne. With the help of only one local man he planted 16,000 trees of many different species, cleared 3 miles of nature paths and reintroduced Aldabra giant tortoises. He thus created his own Eden that is today a National Park. Sadly, it’s the last time for swimming or snorkeling. In the afternoon Pegasos will sail back to Port Victoria and it will be time for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner and last party onboard.
We have to be thankful to the Seychelles Island Nation and its inhabitants for achieving to preserve the unique local wildlife. They were able to do it with limited resources but with a strong will. This amazing cruise created by Variety Cruises allows the guests to discover this preserved nature… if only days could count 48 hours to make our pleasure a little bit longer!
More information and direct booking at www.varietycruises.com
You can go to the Seychelles flying Qatar Airways that has been awarded best airway company of the year in 2021 for the sixth time. You can thus take advantage of a free stopover in Doha and discover the capital city of Qatar. More in our previous article: https://b-c-ing-u.com/architecture/qatar-airways-rolls-out-the-burgundy-carpet-for-you-meanderings-through-france-n-251/
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos: ©Frederic de Poligny or ©Annick Dournes