‘It’s like chartering your own private yacht’: Traveller films her ‘bargain of the century’ Seychelles voyage aboard one of the world’s smallest cruise ships
- Jo Kessel boards Variety Cruises’ ship Pegasos in Mahe for a seven-night voyage
- Jo gets to steer the ship from the bridge and goes snorkelling with turtles
- She also goes ashore and picks up the world’s biggest seed, weighing 25kg
Travel writer Jo Kessel filmed her seven-night voyage around the Seychelles, beginning and ending on Mahe, the largest isle in the archipelago, on Greek liner Variety Cruises’ ship Pegasos. The footage shows how, despite the ship’s diminutive size, there’s a sun deck, al fresco eating terrace and spacious cabins. She visits the beachside location for the Tom Hanks movie Castaway and gives the inside scoop on the chef’s Creole cuisine, Seychellois rum and the Carana Beach Hotel on the island of Mahe – which is perfect for a pre- or post-cruise stay.
The Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 1,400 miles east of Tanzania. The country has a reputation for being a luxury fly-and-flop destination with the most exclusive of its hotels charging anything from £2,000 a room per night upwards. But there is a cheaper – and arguably better – way to explore some of the country’s 115 islands… and that’s by boat.
Enter Greek liner Variety Cruises, which specialises in yacht cruises. Its yacht Pegasos has been sailing week-long voyages around the Seychelles for a decade and with full board prices starting at £1,900pp, I hopped on board with my camera to try out a small ship cruise.
Pegasos is the smallest cruise ship I’ve ever sailed on, with 21 cabins accommodating 44 passengers.
My footage starts on the top deck before beginning a whistle-stop tour of the whole ship, from the sun terrace decked with loungers to the surprisingly roomy cabins.
Jo Kessel (pictured) boards Greek liner Variety Cruises’ ship Pegasos for a tour around the isles of the Seychelles
There are 21 cabins on board, accommodating 44 passengers. Above is Jo’s ‘surprisingly roomy’ cabin
Jo’s video offers a glimpse inside the indoor breakfast room, bar and lounge (above)
Then there’s the indoor breakfast room, bar and lounge, which leads onto an al fresco terrace. Here we spy the occasional dolphin and sea turtle as we tuck into food that’s cooked with love – more of which later.
Small-ship cruising is nothing like a regular cruise. The captain mingles with guests at mealtimes and even invites them to the bridge to help drive the ship.
Is it scary standing at the helm, wheel in hand as the ship heads towards land? Yes. Do it again? Absolutely!
The voyage visits a dozen or so of the archipelago’s 115 islands, only four of which are inhabited.
Most of the islands are too small for the ship to dock and the video shows how guests are transported to land in inflatable zodiac boats.
Pictured is the al fresco terrace, where Jo spies ‘the occasional dolphin and sea turtle’ as she dines
The captain invites guests to the bridge to help steer the ship, Jo reveals
Variety Cruises’ name is fitting because ‘variety’ is what the itinerary offers, all captured on camera.
First stop is Curieuse Island, where we’re greeted by giant tortoises. Considering the cumbersome shells they’re hauling – they weigh around 300 kilos – they’re actually pretty speedy! These prehistoric-looking reptiles prove a highlight not just of the day, but of the week.
We visit the bird sanctuary Cousin Island, whose fairy terns lay eggs on branches and not in nests, one of only two seabirds to do so.
‘Considering the cumbersome shells they’re hauling – they weigh around 300 kilos – they’re actually pretty speedy,’ Jo says of Curieuse Island’s tortoises
Above is a young fairy tern at the bird sanctuary Cousin Island – one of the stops on the week-long cruise
Next up – beaches. Anse Lazio (‘anse’ means beach in the native language of Creole) has been voted one of the world’s top ten beaches; Anse Source D’Argent is where Tom Hanks’ movie Castaway was filmed. We even enjoy a high-speed beach landing, hurtling up on the sand James Bond-style.
Other highlights include snorkelling alongside hawksbill turtles and cycling around the Seychelles’ fourth largest island, La Digue.
Then there’s the visit to the Unesco World Heritage Site Vallee de Mai.
This is on the island of Praslin and home to palm trees whose fruit is the Coco de Mer, the largest seed in the world. It’s nicknamed the ‘love nut’ because it’s shaped like the human bottom!
Going snorkelling alongside hawksbill turtles (above) is a highlight of the tour
Anse Source D’Argent (pictured) is where Tom Hanks’ movie Castaway was filmed, Jo reveals
Jo strolls along Anse Lazio, a stretch of sand that has been voted one of the world’s top ten beaches
Jo explores La Digue, the Seychelles’ fourth largest island, by bike
At around 25 kilos they’re extremely heavy and the film finds me struggling to hold one.
The crew treats everyone like family and the footage shows how guests are welcomed back on board with fanfare and treated to local rum.
The one made from coconut slips down nicely, but the one made from the native Takamaka tree sets mouths on fire! The ship’s cuisine proves the perfect antidote.
Jo holds a Coco de Mer, the largest seed in the world. ‘At around 25 kilos they’re extremely heavy,’ she reveals
The rum made from the native Takamaka tree ‘sets mouths on fire’, Jo reveals
Many lunches are a smorgasbord of BBQ grills with Mediterranean salads.
Dinners are more formal, four-course waiter-served affairs, but one night is a Creole buffet of aubergine fritters, Seychellois chicken curry and a spicy whole-cooked Jobfish.
Afterwards, a trio of dancers comes on board to perform the native ‘Moutya’ dance.
We’re encouraged to try it ourselves – it involves a lot of booty swaying. Watch the film to see if we’re any good!
According to Jo, it’s worth doing a pre- or post- cruise stay near Victoria on the isle of Mahe (pictured)
Pictured is Carana Beach Hotel’s ‘divine’ infinity pool. ‘The entire property and its gardens looks and feels like the hotel of dreams,’ says Jo
The eight-day Seychelles Cruise roundtrip from Mahe Island starts from £1,908pp full board and includes walking tours. For more information call +44 208324 3114 or visit www.varietycruises.com.
Return flights from London to Seychelles (www.qatarairways.com) cost from £661.
The Carana Beach hotel (www.caranabeach.com) has rooms from £200pp, B&B.
For further information, visit www.seychelles.com.
The Seychelles is a diverse nation. Originally uninhabited, eventually the Africans came, followed by the French and then the British.
Today it’s in the Commonwealth and, in the country’s capital Victoria on the island of Mahe (Victoria is the world’s smallest capital) there’s even a Big Ben! It’s worth doing a pre- or post- cruise stay near here.
Victoria has a vibrant market and nearby hikes – the Copolia trail (featured in the video) has superb views of the archipelago from its summit.
Also featured in the video is the boutique Carana Beach Hotel, only 15 minutes from the capital. Instead of rooms, it has cabanas and everywhere comes with a sea view, including the divine infinity pool.
The entire property and its gardens looks and feels like the hotel of dreams.
As for Pegasos, with so few other passengers on board, the voyage doesn’t have the feel of a conventional cruise. Instead, it’s more like chartering your own exclusive, private yacht and that makes this the bargain of the century.
For more from Jo visit her YouTube channel, Go with Jo.
With so few other passengers on board, cruising on Pegasos ‘doesn’t have the feel of a conventional cruise’
A voyage on Pegasos feels ‘like chartering your own exclusive, private yacht’, Jo reveals. Above is the lounge area
PEGASOS AND THE SEYCHELLES BY THE NUMBERS
- Pegasos has 21 cabins and can accommodate 44 passengers and 18 international crew members.
- It has four decks and is 148ft (45m) long.
- There are 115 islands in the Seychelles archipelago.
- The Seychelles is one of only two countries in the world where giant tortoises still live in the wild – the other is Ecuador in the Galapagos Islands.
- The world’s largest known seed, Coco de Mer, can only be found in the Seychelles. This seed weighs up to 25 kilos.
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