Embark on Le Jacques-Cartier for this 13-day expedition cruise in the Indian Ocean. Enjoy this chance to discover stunning natural environments, exceptional wildlife, and UNESCO World Heritage sites rich with history. Explore the Seychelles, where you'll sail from Victoria on Mahé to La Digue, where a tropical paradise of powdery sand, sculptural boulders, lush greenery, and warm crystal-clear waters awaits. Explore the small island of Rémire before heading for the small islands Bijoutier, Saint-François and Astove where you can snorkel and dive among brightly colored sea life. Continue to the Cosmoledo Atoll, also known as the "Galapagos of the Indian Ocean," for the opportunity to spot unique local wildlife. Your fabulous journey concludes in Zanzibar, a verdant archipelago home to a thriving spice industry.
Relax on the sun-soaked beaches of the Seychelles and Zanzibar
Swim, snorkel, and dive in the warm, clear waters
Observe tortoises and several species of birds on Aldabra and Latham Island
Experience the distinctive blended cultures of the islands
Discover Mahé, the main island of Seychelles and also the largest of the archipelago, home to the capital, Victoria. Mahé has almost 70 beaches of fine sand, framed by the emblematic granite rocks, and whose crystal clear waters are renowned for their rich underwater life. The island is also famous for its splendid mountain panoramas accessible on hikes, such as the Morne Seychellois, which is 905 meters high and overlooks the Indian Ocean. Mahé is also an island full of history where fine colonial properties rub shoulders with Creole houses - and don’t forget the marvelous Botanical Gardens in Victoria.
La Digue Island is a veritable concentration of all the beauty of the Seychelles. Located 6 km south-east of Praslin, this small piece of land that looks like paradise is the third-largest island in the Seychelles, despite its modest size (5 km by 3km)! Turquoise waters encourage everyone to swim in them, lush vegetation sheltering giant tortoises, beaches of fine sand fringed with coconut trees and surrounded with those emblematic large granite rocks with their pink highlights like at the famous Anse Source d’Argent: the perfect picture postcard… Authentic and preserved, the island follows a peaceful rhythm, with the only means of transport along its little roads being bikes or traditional oxcarts.
Remire Island is like a piece of confetti in the Indian Ocean and is a captivating place to visit. Located in the Outer Islands of Seychelles, it is prized for its unique biodiversity, including its exceptionally rich underwater life. The rare inhabitants of this tropical islet watch over its preservation, and a walk amidst its lush vegetation, home to delightful birds, will delight fans of unspoiled areas. For those who love snorkeling, myriad colorful fish live among the coral reefs that border the island.
Bijoutier Island is one of the three idyllic islands of the Alphonse Atoll, considered the most intact and unspoiled group of islands in the Outer Islands of Seychelles. Formed around volcanos having vanished into the abyssal depths of the Indian Ocean, they are protected by splendid and fragile coral reefs. The jewel of the Alphonse Atoll, the Bijoutier lagoon is set with beaches of coconut trees bordering this 2-hectare setting, a haven of peace for herons, colonies of frigate birds, tortoises, and giant crabs. Since 2007, the natural treasures of this desert island have been preserved by the atoll’s conservation center, which is dedicated to restoring the biodiversity of the island ecosystems.
In the heart of the Outer Islands of Seychelles, St. François paints the Indian Ocean in an infinite palette of blues. This coral atoll is covered in coconut trees exactly what people imagine when they think of Seychelles. With its distinctive crescent-shaped silhouette, it welcomes you to its immaculate, deserted beaches for a rare experience. Here, the population is composed of myriad birds on land and of sea turtles, and a multitude of fish in the water, making this the ideal place for hiking or snorkeling.
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique, or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest, and entertainment.
Closer to Madagascar than to Victoria, Astove is the southernmost island in the Seychelles. It is part of the Aldabra group, in the Outer Islands of Seychelles. Now uninhabited, this coral island covered in coconut trees was once home to the employees that worked on the coconut plantations. Renowned for the richness of its seabeds, Astove Atoll is now a top destination for fishing enthusiasts. It also attracts experienced divers, who visit the atoll to explore the “Astove Wall”, where the seafloor drops to a depth of about 40 meters. The wall is covered in coral and many fish and green sea turtles can be found there
The Cosmoledo Atoll owes its nickname, the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, to the beauty of its underwater world, which attracts the most experienced divers: parrotfish, giant rays and clams inhabit the reefs of its crystal waters. The fascinating marine life comes alive as the multi-colored fish, making the most of the protection of the extraordinary coral reef, come together to feed in the currents formed by the sweeping movements of the tides. Exploited in the past for coconut and agave, the atoll is now uninhabited, apart from an eco-resort in the heart of the nature reserve, which shelters green turtles and significant colonies of sooty terns and red-footed boobies.
Assumption Island is part of the Aldabra group (Outer Islands), situated in the southwest of Seychelles. Discovered in the mid-18th century by the French captain Nicolas Morphey, this bean-shaped island covered in dunes and shrubs is relatively flat. A handful of people live there, in a small village in the island’s west. The island’s beaches are a major egg-laying and breeding site for sea turtles. The surrounding waters are ideal for scuba diving. This is where Jacques-Yves Cousteau filmed some of the scenes for his famous documentary film “The Silent World”, released in 1956.
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the onboard photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
Near the Tanzanian coast, around 300 km south of Dar es Salaam, the island of Kilwa Kisiwani is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Occupied from the 9th century to the 11th century, it reached its heights in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was described by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battouta as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world.” A former Swahili trading city, the island prospered from the trade of gold and ivory from the inland regions. The remains of its former port city cover a large part of the island. Those of its superb Great Mosque, the oldest mosque remaining on the coast of East Africa, is well worth a visit.
Renowned for its underwater world, Misali became a protected conservation area in 1998. So, it’s possible to admire its sea beds and swim there, but not to fish. If conditions allow, you’ll perhaps have the chance to see varied underwater fauna. To the northeast of the island, a white sandy beach, bathed in stunningly transparent turquoise water, is an ideal place to relax.
The second-largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago edged with fine sand and bathed in a sea in infinite shades of turquoise, Pemba Island astounds with the whiteness of its shores and its abundant tropical forest. It is mountainous with hills full of fertile land and has the nickname “the Green Island.” You’ll fall in love with its quiet shores, full of authenticity. Banana trees, coconut trees, clove trees, nutmeg trees… its lush vegetation ensures the local production of spices that have made its reputation (essentially cloves but also nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, etc.).
Day 13: Zanzibar | Disembark
Once a mythical post along the legendary Indian Ocean trade route, today a certain whiff of adventure still pervades in Zanzibar. Located off the coast of Tanzania, this place often referred to as “spice island” is brimming with natural treasures, such as Jozani Forest, the last remains of the huge primeval forest that once covered the island, home to a unique ecosystem. This port of call will also be the moment to discover ”Stone Town”, the historical center of Zanzibar, a UNESCO World Heritage site. A veritable labyrinth of narrow streets lined with houses made from coral stone, it is home to sumptuous buildings in a multitude of architectural styles, the result of the blending of African, European and Indian cultures.
Ports of call, visited sites, outings and landings will depend on weather conditions, position of ice, winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time. The Captain and the Expedition Leader may at any time cancel or stop any activity, or even modify the itinerary. The final itinerary will be confirmed by the Captain, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. His decision will be based on advice from experts and authorities.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!