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Christmas & New Year in the Indian Ocean

Celebrate Christmas and start the New Year with a voyage aboard the MS Serenissima in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, discovering some of the most beautiful tropical islands on earth. Our two week journey combines some fascinating and exotic calls in Tanzania with stunning islands in the Seychelles along with the natural wonders of Madagascar.

We know the region well having operated vessels there for the past twenty five years and if ever there was a region perfect for expedition cruising it is here, a timeless world of wonders both below and above the water. Our itinerary is perfectly suited to the MS Serenissima, her small size allowing us access to isolated ports and islands that are off limits to large cruise ships, and with our fleet of Zodiac landing craft we can reach the unreachable, landing on remote beaches, walking through verdant rainforest and national parks and getting close to some unique flora and fauna. Your experience will be made all the more memorable by our expert crew and officers who along with our expedition team of marine biologists, ornithologists and botanists have many years of experience in the Indian Ocean.
18 December, 2017 to 04 January, 2018 Make a booking request for Christmas & New Year in the Indian Ocean, departing on 18 December, 2017

Prices quoted here are often dependent on currency fluctuations. Please check with (01432 507450 or info@small-cruise-ships.com) for the very latest price, which may well be cheaper than the one advertised here.

Inside single £ 7395 GBP pp
Inside single cabins range in size from 9.9 to 11.52 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Standard Stateroom £ 7795 GBP pp
The standard staterooms range in size from 10 to 15.5 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Standard Single £ 7995 GBP pp
The standard single cabins range in size from 7.1 to 12.7 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Standard Stateroom Plus £ 7995 GBP pp
The standard staterooms range in size from 10 to 15.5 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Superior Stateroom £ 8195 GBP pp
The superior staterooms range in size from 11 to 19.6 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Deluxe Stateroom £ 8695 GBP pp
The deluxe staterooms range in size from 15 to 25.4 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Junior Suite £ 8795 GBP pp
The junior suites range in size from 20.9 to 21.7 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Executive Suite £ 9595 GBP pp
The executive suites are 25 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Owners Suite £ 9595 GBP pp
The owners suites are 22.7 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Standard Stateroom Sole £ 9795 GBP pp
The standard staterooms range in size from 10 to 15.5 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.
Standard Stateroom Plus Sole £ 9995 GBP pp
The standard staterooms range in size from 10 to 15.5 square metres. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily.

Christmas & New Year in the Indian Ocean itinerary:

show reverse itinerary
Day 1 - Dar es Salaam.
Arrive today and transfer to the MS Serenissima and sail tonight.
Day 2 - Zanzibar.
Here the colourful harbour will be crowded with dhows, very much setting the scene for our visit to the Arab style city with its long narrow streets, bazaars, houses with overhanging balconies and intricately carved doorways. On a morning tour, soak up the timeless atmosphere of Stone Town including Livingstone House, Sultan’s Palace, the slave market and the old Fort. The afternoon is free to relax and explore independently or join a tour to a spice farm to experience the various fruits and spices cultivated on the island where you will find everything from jackfruit to coconuts, turmeric and vanilla to lipstick trees.
Day 3 - Mafia Island.
Once a prominent stopover for ships on the trade routes from East Africa, Mafia Island has not seen the same development as nearby Zanzibar and remains relatively unknown and off the major tourist trail but is a wonderful spot to spend the day. Between October and February the island is home to large numbers of whale sharks and we will embark local boats to search for these beautiful creatures with our knowledgeable guides. If conditions allow we may also be able to swim alongside them. We also hope to offer snorkelling on one of the reefs in the Marine Park, whilst nature lovers can enjoy walks looking for some of the 120 bird species found here, endemic butterflies and lizards.
Day 4 - Kilwa Kisiwani.
Our last call in Tanzania will be at Kilwa Kisiwani, a site of exceptional historical interest, whose atmospheric ruins represent a wide sweep of East African coastal history, from the heights of the Swahili and Shirazi trading civilisation, to the darker days of slavery and the uprisings against German rule. Once one of Africa’s wealthiest towns, Kilwa Kisiwani is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and contains the world’s most extensive and bestpreserved Swahili ruins. On a morning walking tour we will see the prominent fort and the Great Mosque which stood at the heart of the ancient city and was once the largest in East Africa. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure.
Day 5 - At Sea.
Enjoy a day to relax on board, maybe join a lecture or just find a spot on deck.
Days 6 to 8 - Aldabra Islands, Seychelles.
We have three days to enjoy the Aldabra group of islands and 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 call at the island of Assumption which was ruthlessly plundered for its vast deposits of guano in the early 20th century. Happily, peace has returned and the wildlife of rare birds and green turtles are once again in abundance. Our time here will be spent beachcombing, on a nature walk or snorkelling. We also 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. We will then 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 colourful life, the skies are alive with varied birdlife and ashore giant land tortoises forage as they have done for millions of years. We will explore Picard Island with a short walk to see some of the thousands of tortoises and numerous robber crabs. We will include as much as possible with our time on Aldabra making landings on South Island and trips into the lagoon, a vast 17 mile stretch of shallow clear water. From our Zodiacs we can watch the ever-changing undersea world and snorkel in colourful coral waters teeming with marine life. We will spend Christmas Day on one of these fascinating islands.
Day 9 - Farquhar Islands.
After a morning at sea we will anchor off Farquhar over lunch where we will use our Zodiacs to explore the sparkling lagoon of this remote atoll ringed island of coconut and casuarina trees. The island is a haven for many species of migratory birds providing us with a delightful afternoon of bird watching or snorkelling. Return to the ship as we clear customs formalities and make our way to Madagascar.
Day 10 - Diego Suarez, Madagascar.
This morning we will enter dramatic Diego Suarez, a stunning natural harbour with a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants including Creoles, Indians, Chinese, Comorans and Arabs. After a brief tour of the town we will use 4x4 vehicles to make our way to the Malagasy Rainforest at the Mount Amber National Park. Dividing into short and long walk parties we will go in search of lemurs and chameleons as we explore the rainforest. If this is not possible based on weather conditions, we will instead visit the Domaine de Fontenay where we will explore the reserve rich with flora, fauna and several waterfalls. On our return to the MS Serenissima we will take a detour to the bay of Diego with its impressive views of the sugar loaf and also home to the indigenous baobab suareziensis tree. Enjoy lunch on board whilst our lecture programme continues during a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 11 - Nosy Mangabe.
After a morning at sea we arrive at Nosy Mangabe, a 520 hectare island reserve in Antongil Bay. Here we find one of the most diverse areas of virgin rain forest in Madagascar which has also been an important research centre since the mid-1960s when several ayeayes and lemurs were released into the forest. We will use our Zodiacs to land on the beach next to the forest and organise a series of nature walks. For the birders we will keep an eye out for Madagascar buzzard, kingfisher and paradise flycatchers.
Day 12 - Masoala National Park.
We remain in Antongil Bay overnight and enjoy a full day visit to Madagascar’s largest protected area, the Masoala National Park which comprises coastal rainforest, flooded forests and marsh and mangroves. Mammal species encountered include the red-ruffed lemur, the red-fronted brown lemur, the aye-aye, the greater hedgehog tenrec and the ring tailed mongoose. The park is also home to various species of brightly coloured Mantella frogs and all manner of extraordinary chameleons. We will run a series of walks for all levels during the day whilst you will also have the option to swim off the beach or perhaps visit the local village.
Day 13 - Ile Sainte Marie & Nosy Nato.
Our final call in Madagascar is at Ile Sainte Marie, also known as Nosy Bohara, a lush tropical island offering sandy beaches, coral reefs and natural beauty. This morning we will explore the capital of Ambodifotatra including the oldest church in Madagascar built in 1837 and the vibrant market. We will then head over to neighbouring Nosy Nato where you can choose to join a nature walk keeping an eye out for the wildlife or simply enjoy an afternoon of swimming and snorkelling.
Day 14 - At Sea.
Day 15 - Reunion.
Arrive this morning in Reunion where we have a choice of excursions. On a full day tour we will visit the central highlands where spectacularly rugged peaks of dormant or extinct volcanoes cradle huge amphitheatres known as cirques, where mountains tower to over 10,000 feet and beautiful waterfalls plummet hundreds of feet. The rich soil and mellow climate produce a lush and verdant landscape which is dotted with villages and towns with a uniquely French atmosphere. We will enjoy views from the Nez des Bouefs and see the Piton de la Fournaise crater. After enjoying a creole lunch in a local restaurant we will visit the “Cite du Volcan” Museum. Alternatively enjoy a morning tour to a vanilla plantation in St Andre where we learn about the history and culture of this integral part of Reunion’s heritage. We will also enjoy some free time in St Denis before returning to the MS Serenissima for lunch. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before we set sail this evening.
Day 16 - Mauritius.
Disembark after breakfast and continue with your onward travel plans.
Please Note:
The final itinerary for several island groups will be decided by the Captain and Expedition leader depending on local conditions and permissions that are subject to change.

Christmas & New Year in the Indian Ocean reverse itinerary:

show main itinerary
Please Note: *
The final itinerary for several island groups will be decided by the Captain and Expedition leader depending on local conditions and permissions that are subject to change.
Day 16 - Mauritius. *
Disembark after breakfast and continue with your onward travel plans.
Day 15 - Reunion. *
Arrive this morning in Reunion where we have a choice of excursions. On a full day tour we will visit the central highlands where spectacularly rugged peaks of dormant or extinct volcanoes cradle huge amphitheatres known as cirques, where mountains tower to over 10,000 feet and beautiful waterfalls plummet hundreds of feet. The rich soil and mellow climate produce a lush and verdant landscape which is dotted with villages and towns with a uniquely French atmosphere. We will enjoy views from the Nez des Bouefs and see the Piton de la Fournaise crater. After enjoying a creole lunch in a local restaurant we will visit the “Cite du Volcan” Museum. Alternatively enjoy a morning tour to a vanilla plantation in St Andre where we learn about the history and culture of this integral part of Reunion’s heritage. We will also enjoy some free time in St Denis before returning to the MS Serenissima for lunch. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before we set sail this evening.
Day 14 - At Sea. *
Day 13 - Ile Sainte Marie & Nosy Nato. *
Our final call in Madagascar is at Ile Sainte Marie, also known as Nosy Bohara, a lush tropical island offering sandy beaches, coral reefs and natural beauty. This morning we will explore the capital of Ambodifotatra including the oldest church in Madagascar built in 1837 and the vibrant market. We will then head over to neighbouring Nosy Nato where you can choose to join a nature walk keeping an eye out for the wildlife or simply enjoy an afternoon of swimming and snorkelling.
Day 12 - Masoala National Park. *
We remain in Antongil Bay overnight and enjoy a full day visit to Madagascar’s largest protected area, the Masoala National Park which comprises coastal rainforest, flooded forests and marsh and mangroves. Mammal species encountered include the red-ruffed lemur, the red-fronted brown lemur, the aye-aye, the greater hedgehog tenrec and the ring tailed mongoose. The park is also home to various species of brightly coloured Mantella frogs and all manner of extraordinary chameleons. We will run a series of walks for all levels during the day whilst you will also have the option to swim off the beach or perhaps visit the local village.
Day 11 - Nosy Mangabe. *
After a morning at sea we arrive at Nosy Mangabe, a 520 hectare island reserve in Antongil Bay. Here we find one of the most diverse areas of virgin rain forest in Madagascar which has also been an important research centre since the mid-1960s when several ayeayes and lemurs were released into the forest. We will use our Zodiacs to land on the beach next to the forest and organise a series of nature walks. For the birders we will keep an eye out for Madagascar buzzard, kingfisher and paradise flycatchers.
Day 10 - Diego Suarez, Madagascar. *
This morning we will enter dramatic Diego Suarez, a stunning natural harbour with a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants including Creoles, Indians, Chinese, Comorans and Arabs. After a brief tour of the town we will use 4x4 vehicles to make our way to the Malagasy Rainforest at the Mount Amber National Park. Dividing into short and long walk parties we will go in search of lemurs and chameleons as we explore the rainforest. If this is not possible based on weather conditions, we will instead visit the Domaine de Fontenay where we will explore the reserve rich with flora, fauna and several waterfalls. On our return to the MS Serenissima we will take a detour to the bay of Diego with its impressive views of the sugar loaf and also home to the indigenous baobab suareziensis tree. Enjoy lunch on board whilst our lecture programme continues during a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 9 - Farquhar Islands. *
After a morning at sea we will anchor off Farquhar over lunch where we will use our Zodiacs to explore the sparkling lagoon of this remote atoll ringed island of coconut and casuarina trees. The island is a haven for many species of migratory birds providing us with a delightful afternoon of bird watching or snorkelling. Return to the ship as we clear customs formalities and make our way to Madagascar.
Days 6 to 8 - Aldabra Islands, Seychelles. *
We have three days to enjoy the Aldabra group of islands and 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 call at the island of Assumption which was ruthlessly plundered for its vast deposits of guano in the early 20th century. Happily, peace has returned and the wildlife of rare birds and green turtles are once again in abundance. Our time here will be spent beachcombing, on a nature walk or snorkelling. We also 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. We will then 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 colourful life, the skies are alive with varied birdlife and ashore giant land tortoises forage as they have done for millions of years. We will explore Picard Island with a short walk to see some of the thousands of tortoises and numerous robber crabs. We will include as much as possible with our time on Aldabra making landings on South Island and trips into the lagoon, a vast 17 mile stretch of shallow clear water. From our Zodiacs we can watch the ever-changing undersea world and snorkel in colourful coral waters teeming with marine life. We will spend Christmas Day on one of these fascinating islands.
Day 5 - At Sea. *
Enjoy a day to relax on board, maybe join a lecture or just find a spot on deck.
Day 4 - Kilwa Kisiwani. *
Our last call in Tanzania will be at Kilwa Kisiwani, a site of exceptional historical interest, whose atmospheric ruins represent a wide sweep of East African coastal history, from the heights of the Swahili and Shirazi trading civilisation, to the darker days of slavery and the uprisings against German rule. Once one of Africa’s wealthiest towns, Kilwa Kisiwani is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and contains the world’s most extensive and bestpreserved Swahili ruins. On a morning walking tour we will see the prominent fort and the Great Mosque which stood at the heart of the ancient city and was once the largest in East Africa. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure.
Day 3 - Mafia Island. *
Once a prominent stopover for ships on the trade routes from East Africa, Mafia Island has not seen the same development as nearby Zanzibar and remains relatively unknown and off the major tourist trail but is a wonderful spot to spend the day. Between October and February the island is home to large numbers of whale sharks and we will embark local boats to search for these beautiful creatures with our knowledgeable guides. If conditions allow we may also be able to swim alongside them. We also hope to offer snorkelling on one of the reefs in the Marine Park, whilst nature lovers can enjoy walks looking for some of the 120 bird species found here, endemic butterflies and lizards.
Day 2 - Zanzibar. *
Here the colourful harbour will be crowded with dhows, very much setting the scene for our visit to the Arab style city with its long narrow streets, bazaars, houses with overhanging balconies and intricately carved doorways. On a morning tour, soak up the timeless atmosphere of Stone Town including Livingstone House, Sultan’s Palace, the slave market and the old Fort. The afternoon is free to relax and explore independently or join a tour to a spice farm to experience the various fruits and spices cultivated on the island where you will find everything from jackfruit to coconuts, turmeric and vanilla to lipstick trees.
Day 1 - Dar es Salaam. *
Arrive today and transfer to the MS Serenissima and sail tonight.
* = Indicative
Map for Christmas & New Year in the Indian Ocean
Serenissima, the ship servicing Christmas & New Year in the Indian Ocean

Serenissima

Vessel Type: Small Ship

Length: 87 metres

Passenger Capacity: 107

Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013

Prior to her life as the MS Andrea she spent many years cruising the Norwegian coast as the Harald Jarl. The decision by the Norwegian owners, Hurtigruten to invest in much larger new vessels, presented an opportunity to the American company, Elegant Cruises to purchase the vessel in 2002. After a substantial refit of over $20 million in Sweden she began her new life of worldwide cruising.

Perhaps, one of the best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During the major refit in Sweden the then owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create a Gustavian style interior. This bright Swedish 18th century influenced, country house style works particularly well on a vessel of this vintage, providing intimacy and classic nautical sensibility often lacking in larger vessels.

Accommodating just under 100 passengers, the 59 cabins are attractively designed for comfort and convenience and are fully air conditioned with a modern shower and toilet, telephone, flat screen televisions and other thoughtful appointments. There are eight different grades of cabin arranged over five decks and with the exception of the five inside cabins, all staterooms feature either windows or portholes.

The free seating Venice Restaurant accommodates all guests in one sitting. In addition there is an outside dining area for when the weather and itinerary permit. A new addition to the vessel is a Lido area on Deck 5 with a bar and Jacuzzi.

Other facilities on board include two lounges, a small library with two computers for internet access, a spacious observation deck, fitness area, massage and an elevator. In areas such the United Kingdom and Norway the vessel is equipped with Zodiac craft allowing us to visit remote places where normal tender arrangements are not possible.

The European captain, officers, expedition staff, and crew offer a first class service and have been selected for their professionalism and caring attitudes. The atmosphere on board is warm and welcoming and dedicated to discovery and relaxation.

Deck Plan for 2016 will be different to 2015 - please ask for details.

 

Cabin layout for Serenissima
• Discover Kilwa Kisiwani, a site of exceptional historical interest, whose atmospheric ruins represent a wide sweep of East African coastal history, from the heights of the Swahili and Shirazi trading civilisation, to the darker days of slavery and the uprisings against German rule.

• Have three days to enjoy the Aldabra group of islands.

• Explore the sparkling lagoon of the remote atoll ringed island of coconut and casuarina trees - Farquhar.

• Visit dramatic Diego Suarez, a stunning natural harbour with a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants including Creoles, Indians, Chinese, Comorans and Arabs.

• Enjoy a full day visit to Madagascar’s largest protected area, the Masoala National Park which comprises coastal rainforest, flooded forests and marsh and mangroves.
Enquire now about Christmas & New Year in the Indian Ocean

Travel on the Serenissima

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