MSC Sinfonia Cruise: Three tropical islands, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Reunion
I will be writing articles about each island, so this is to whet your appetite! After five days at sea, we were happy to see land on the horizon and sail into beautiful Seychelles.
Blue waters, small islands, wind turbines, and a group of local musicians and dancers awaited us. What a difference to the reception and farewell we had in Saudi Arabia!
Ah, Seychelles – it has always been a dream of mine to visit the islands, and here we were. There is a chain of 115 islands, of which three are tourist destinations.
We docked at Mahe, the largest one. Gilly Mein, contracted by Seychelles Tourism Board, picked us up for a tour of the island.
He was a proud member of the Lospitalite Lafyerte Sesel program, promoting excellence in tourism. We had the chance to enjoy the famous Beau Vallon Beach in the North with its crystal clear blue waters and white sand. We then headed uphill inland through the tropical rainforest to a historic landmark, Mission Lodge, where there used to be a school for children of formerly enslaved people.
Gilly drove along a steep, narrow winding road to Le Jardin Du Roi, a vast plantation with a spice garden laid out as in French colonial times. Here we were treated to an array of local dishes using fresh produce and seasonings from the land.
Afterward, we walked the extensive garden, saw the endemic Coco de Mer with its unusual coconut shape, and delighted in the giant Seychelles tortoises in a large enclosure.
We concluded the tour by heading South to Point Golette beach and a final stop at a magnificent viewing point from where we could admire the harbor and the surrounding islands.
Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority arranged an engaging cultural experience for us. First, we took a tour of the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site, where indentured Indians first set foot on the island, and the Slavery Museum, a work in progress.
Next, our driver took us to a historical French colonial home, Maison Eureka La Maison Creole, where we sampled about eight traditional Mauritian foods, a mix of the different cultures of the island.
Finally, we visited the large, very modern Caudan Waterfront, where we browsed the goods at a local market.
Early the following day, we met up with Valerie, an outgoing South African, who organized a group to rent a taxi that took us to Grand Baie, a lovely beach. We spent a few hours swimming and enjoying the local scene. The driver kindly let us sample quality local rum at a duty-free store and, afterward, screeched to a hair-raising stop at a roadside stall to taste lychees, a fruit new to the
Finally, we stopped at an ornate, colorful Hindu temple. Nearly half the population practices Hinduism.
The next day, we were in Reunion, an island under the French flag. The island has an active volcano and three calderas (natural amphitheaters formed by collapsed volcanoes). Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication with the Tourism Department, but a representative, Sebastian, finally picked us up at a bus stop – long story! We had no great expectations, but it turned out to be one of our best days ever!
We had a terrific scenic drive along the coast, flanked by tall hillside boulders, and finally reached St. Suzanne, a small inland town. We were warmly welcomed at FarFar Kréol by the owner/chef, Jacky, who not only introduced a big group of us to Creole cooking but showed us how to make spring rolls and samosas. Shots of local sugarcane rum and a red wine enhanced the convivial atmosphere! After visiting the three islands in the Indian Ocean, I have become somewhat of a rum convert.