Spotlight on Mixed Destinations

Got the winter blues? Don’t worry, it’s not chilly everywhere, and we’ve got the perfect combination of sunshine, relaxation, and adventure to cheer you right up. 

The Best Little Islands in the Whole Pacific

The Best Little Islands in the Whole Pacific
Spotlight

While Tahiti and Fiji receive most of the attention, it’s the lesser-known Cook Islands which epitomize that South Seas destination you always dreamt of. With no traffic and fewer tourists to contend with, visitors have their very own islands to lose themselves in.

There are a lot of islands in the South Pacific, but only one of them is that island. It’s that one you’ve always wanted to find: all big, green mountains spilling down into blue lagoons with barely a house in between; that’s big enough to get lost in, but small enough you’ll know your way around in a day or two.

I grew up on Rarotonga and always wondered why so few travelers came – how it’s flown under the radar is anyone’s guess. Fiji can get crowded, Tahiti’s expensive – but the Cook Islands are neither.

That’s the beauty of the place. Sure, there’s five-star hotels on lagoons but there’s still more pigs on the roads than cars. There’s no high-rise anywhere – no building’s taller than a coconut tree, it’s the law. There’s no traffic lights and the speed limit is set at 30mph. On Rarotonga you won’t find a chain hotel, nor will you be transported to a private island resort by helicopter – as is often the case in Fiji.

For a tiny island that’s 27-square-miles in size, and circumnavigable in barely 40-minutes, you can still get lost.All it takes me is a small detour from the main coast road to the 1000-year-old inland road, Are Metua to leave the modern world behind. Here locals farm taro plantations, with their pigs tied to coconut trees. Every time I return, I discover a new path into a valley I haven’t seen before.

The Cook Islands are as sophisticated as any South Pacific destination. Tourism is its staple industry, and you’ll find everything from luxury safari tents to romantic five-star villas. Rarotonga also has the best nightlife in the South Pacific, though it never comes at the expense of its sleepy lifestyle.

It’s home to the best sunset bars and restaurants in the whole Pacific set on the sand on Rarotonga’s west coast at Aorangi. They’re all located close to each other – like the Waterline Restaurant & Bar, Wilson’s Bar and the Shipwreck Hut.

But it’s the locals that have always made the Cook Islands special. Crime is almost non-existent, and you won’t find friendlier souls. Family is sacred (yours are just as important), and the Cook Islanders are the extroverts of the South Pacific – they love to socialize, so it’s little wonder there’s every type of restaurant, café, and bar. You can try everything from fish caught that morning at a café 16-feet from the lagoon, to gourmet Polynesian-fusion meals in restored colonial buildings.

The best plan to enjoy Rarotonga is to have no plan. Hire a scooter (there’s no safer place to try it for the first time) or car and follow the road right around. Rarotonga’s encircled by a barrier reef, so there’s safe swimming options all over. Many visitors prefer the widest section of the lagoon at Muri – it’s where you’ll find some of the fanciest accommodation options (and a bustling night market). You’re surrounded by four tiny, uninhabited motu (islets) you can swim to.

Though you need never leave Rarotonga, it’s worth taking the 45-minute flight north to Aitutaki. Travelers wanting to get away from it all can lose themselves here amongst the island’s eight tiny, peaceful communities (there’s just 1,400 locals) and on one of the South Pacific’s most celebrated lagoons. This lagoon (unlike Bora Bora’s) isn’t home to five-star chain resorts, instead it’s home to uninhabited motu (islets) owned by locals where there’s no-one around but the occasional fisherman. Aitutaki is a honeymooner’s dream: the Cook Islands’ most awarded romantic resorts can be found here, and most activities revolve around escaping to someplace of your own within the lagoon.

For Robinson Crusoe bragging rights, consider flying just a little further (but still under an hour) to little-visited gems like Atiu and Mangaia – both islands receive less than 100 visitors a year, and you’re almost guaranteed to have the island for yourselves.

On Location in the Indian Ocean Islands

We caught up with Lindsey Wallace, Founder and CEO of award-winning Linara Travel, which specializes in travel to the sublime islands of the Indian Ocean – the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius. Learn all about visiting these exotic destinations and the special features each has to offer.

Q: Describe the islands of the Indian Ocean for travelers considering vacationing there.

Maldives are coral islands, meaning they are completely flat, surrounded by coral reefs, and are home to the most luxurious overwater villas in the World! There are over 1,100 islands in the Maldives. Each resort is on its own island in the Maldives so selecting the best one for travelers is critical. Some resorts are better for couples, families, snorkeling, diving while some have a more casual barefoot feel, a more traditional elegance, or are more modern and chic. Maldives is great for travelers wanting privacy, luxury, and beautiful water.

Seychelles are largely granitic islands, meaning they have huge granite mountains and boulders that line the beaches. There are 115 islands in the Seychelles. There are rare flora and fauna on some of the islands in the Seychelles. Island hopping is popular as the main islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue offer varying sites, national parks, and activities. Seychelles is great for travelers wanting stunning scenery, the ability to experience unique flora and fauna, and sailing and island hopping.

Mauritius is a large volcanic island with a diverse economy. A number of luxury resorts dot the beaches and this gives Mauritius the largest selection of activities and cultural excursions. While perhaps not quite as pretty as Seychelles or Maldives, Mauritius offers great value for money and a wide range of activities, especially if combining with a safari in Southern Africa.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit?

Maldives is a year-round destination. It gets more rain in the May to August time period but often that rain is like the dry season in other destinations where it receives a couple hours of rain in the afternoon or evening a few times a week. The rest of the year typically sees very nice weather. It’s always warm weather and warm water in the Maldives. Surfing is best from May to October.

Seychelles is very nice for most of the year but does get rain from December to February. Outside of this period it's usually very nice. The weather is always warm and the water is always a nice temperature.

Mauritius experiences a larger range of temperatures and can be a little cool from June to August. Mauritius does get some rain from December to February as well.

Q: What travel services do you offer for the islands?

We have specially negotiated rates at all the luxury resorts and we we arrange transfers and excursions in our destinations. We have amazing guides and access to unique experiences.
You will get better rates booking through us than directly due to the volume we provide the resorts. We work closely with the resorts to ensure travelers receive the best room locations, butlers, and wait staff. This helps give travelers a better resort experience!!!

Q: What air routes do you recommend?

Maldives - Emirates Airlines is the most popular with flights via Dubai. There are flights from over 10 cities in the US to Dubai every day and then multiple flights each day between Dubai and Maldives (4 hours). Other airlines that fly to the Maldives are Etihad, Qatar, Turkish, British Airways, Singapore Air, Cathay Pacific, Sri Lankan Air, Bangkok Air, and more!

Seychelles - Emirates Airlines is the most popular as well. There are flights everyday between Dubai and Seychelles (4.5 hours). There are also flights on Etihad Air, Turkish Air, Sri Lankan Air, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenyan Airways.

Mauritius - Emirates Air has flights as do a number of carriers out of the Middle East, Europe, and South Africa.

Q: Tell us about some of your favorite luxury resorts on the islands and their innovative features.

Maldives has an amazing array of luxury resorts. Some of my favorites are:

  • JOALI Maldives – brand-new art-immersive ultra-luxury resort with spacious overwater pool villas
  • Cheval Blanc Randheli - fanciest rooms in the World and a spa on its own island
  • Soneva Jani - huge overwater villas with a retractable roof for stargazing, a slide going into the lagoon, and a glass cutout in the floor
  • Finolhu – our favorite all-inclusive resort in the Maldives with a mile-long beach and fun bars and restaurants
  • Huvafen Fushi – underwater spa, overwater restaurants, underground wine cellar, and all villas have their own pools

Seychelles

  • Six Senses Zil Pasyon has one of the most stunning spas in the World located amid granite boulders with sensational ocean views.
  • North Island and Fregate Island Private are nature preserves located on their own islands that offer the very finest in luxury, service, and unique flora and fauna.

Mauritius

  • Oberoi Mauritius has some of the nicest rooms on the island.
  • Constance Le Prince Mauritius and the St. Regis Mauritius are on two of the prettier beaches on the island.

Q: What are the most popular things to see and do on the islands?

Maldives - Snorkeling, diving, spas, surfing, and watersports. Some of the best anywhere!

Seychelles - Unique bird, animal, and plant life. Stunning unique granite beach scenery.

Mauritius - Activities such as golfing and hiking.

Q: Where are the best locations for snorkeling?

Maldives - Resorts such as Raffles Maldives Meradhoo and Outrigger Konotta Maldives have amazing house reefs for snorkeling. Resorts in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in the Baa atoll are conveniently located to Hanifaru Bay – a famous snorkeling spot for seeing manta rays. We love Amilla Fushi and Finolhu Resort in the Baa atoll.

Seychelles - Six Senses Zil Pasyon has the best snorkeling house reef in the Seychelles. Neighboring Cocos Island (a 10-minute kayak ride from Six Senses Zil Pasyon) is great for snorkeling as well.

Mauritius - The South of the island has some fun spots for snorkeling although they are not the 
same caliber as the coral and fish of the Maldives or the fish life of the Seychelles.

Q: What other water sports are popular in the Islands?

Maldives - In addition to snorkeling and diving, a number of resorts are conveniently located to great surf spots. The crystal clear waters make kayaking, windsurfing, and all watersports a lot of fun.

Seychelles - A great destination to sail around and island hop. We can arrange sailing vessels from small day trips to large luxury catamarans to full on yachts.

Mauritius - Kitesurfing is a popular water sport in the Southern portion of the island.

Q: What unique dining experiences can travelers enjoy here?

Maldives - Meals in restaurants that are located underwater, overwater, treetop restaurants, underground, on a private deserted island, or on a remote beach. The unique dining options create long-lasting memories.

Seychelles - A fusion of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisines have created tasty seafood cooked in an array of vibrant sauces and curries. Fruit bat curry is a tasty, unique dish!

Mauritius - A melting pot of African and Asian cuisine with a variety of vibrant food.

Top 10 Sunny Destinations to Escape The Winter

It’s freezing outside – the snow’s falling and there’s no end in sight till April… Maybe even May. So what can you do to find somewhere warm and sunny – why not change your hemisphere? When it’s winter in the north it’s summer in the south, and we’ll show you the best places to find the right amount of sunshine.

Best Sunny Places To Cruise In The South Pacific

Best Sunny Places To Cruise In The South Pacific
Travel Style

With so many stunning islands littered all over the South Pacific, it’s hard to know which ones you should visit on an ocean cruise. We look at the best locations you can get to, with the most striking landscapes and lagoons, that are guaranteed to please every kind of cruiser.

The Society Islands, French Polynesia

These are simply some of the most picturesque islands on Earth. There are two main cruise companies (contact your travel agent for more info!)  that operate an itinerary which takes in most of Tahiti’s Society Islands. Fly to Tahiti and your first stop will be the island of Moorea, just 28-miles west, where much of the Mutiny On The Bounty movies were filmed. Here, you can swim with dolphins and rays in a sheltered lagoon.

While Moorea is world-famous, the other islands of the Society Group are virtually a secret (except Bora Bora). Huahine and the twin islands of Ra’atea and Ta’haa receive few visitors – yet their lagoons are as stunning as Bora Bora’s. Ta’haa, in particular, is right off the grid, with mile-high peaks dropping into the lagoon, and locals living in tiny, basic villages. Every cruise here culminates with a visit to Bora Bora – where you’ll spend time in the world’s most famous lagoon, using uninhabited islets for barbeques and sun-downer drinks.

Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

How New Caledonia doesn’t receive much more fanfare is anyone’s guess. It’s barely 2,000-miles east of Australia (the closest of all the South Pacific island groups) so getting there is easy aboard a cruise ship from Sydney (it’s one of the most popular destinations in the South Pacific from Australia).

The reason why New Caledonia is so perfect for cruising is that it’s protected inside the world’s largest lagoon, surrounded by one of the world’s largest barrier reefs. You can spend time in the French-style capital of Noumea with its European cafes, restaurants and clubs, then venture south-east to the Loyalty Islands. The Isle Of Pines is the most popular of these islands – it’s encircled in a lagoon with white sand bays, and a natural swimming pool separated from the ocean (called Oro). There are caves to explore all over the island.

Though equally beautiful, but less visited, is its neighbor, Mare. Here locals live in tiny villages with little tourism infrastructure. Visiting cruisers get to see right inside the simple communities of the island – as well as spending time exploring caves and snorkeling over World-Heritage-Listed coral.

The Marquesas, French Polynesia

If these islands aren’t on your bucket list, revise your list! Take a two-week journey aboard one of the last passenger/cargo combined vessels left on the planet to the world’s most isolated island archipelago, The Marquesas. You’ll need to fly to Tahiti, where a boat will ply its way north-east for 870-miles. It visits six of the 12 islands of the Marquesas (the rest are uninhabited), stopping at tiny villages where locals still live subsistence lifestyles.

You’ll get to hike across remote mountain passes, swim in front of villages with local children and attend boisterous church sessions with locals dressed up to the nines. Aside from infrequent and expensive domestic flights, this is the only way to visit these islands – so don’t expect to see other tourists.

Efate, Tanna and Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Many travelers won’t get past the main island of Efate – with its bustling capital, Port Vila – but it’s worth remembering that there’s 83 islands that make up Vanuatu. These are some of the wildest islands left in the Pacific – on some islands you’ll spend time with cargo cult tribes who still live in the rainforests in simple grass huts. While on one island – Pentecost – should you time it right, you’ll see locals jump from platforms with vines around their ankles to bless their yam harvest (this is where the concept for bungy jumping came from).

Keen divers should consider Espiritu Santo – it’s home to the sunken WWII troop carrier, SS Coolridge, considered the world’s best wreck dive site. While on Tanna you can visit an active volcano, Mt Yasur – standing right on the crater’s edge as dry lava is ejected. You’ll also find one of the world’s top-rated beaches – Champagne Beach on Espiritu Santo; while Tales Of The South Pacific author James A Michener got his inspiration for his novel (and the musical) South Pacific from time spent on Espiritu Santo during WWII.

International culinary delights

Tempting dishes from our featured destinations give you a taste of local culture. From succulent roasts to exotic spicy fare and some divine desserts, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious recipes to try at home.

Wagyu Beef Crudo

Creativity, innovation and gracious service are the hallmarks of Crystal’s culinary philosophy. Our European-trained staff is immediately familiar with your every preference, whether sparkling or still water, or the exact preparation of a filet.



Ingredients

Horseradish Sauce

  • 3pc shallots, finely sliced
  • Olive oil
  • White wine, dry for deglazing
  • 1 cup white, bread not crust, soft
  • 3tbs creamed horseradish, white
  • 4tbs freshly grated horseradish
  • 2cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken consommé
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Silky Potatoes

  • 3-4 pc Russet potatoes peeled and diced equal
  • Soft unsalted butter
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Garnish

  • Freshly grated horseradish
  • Micro parsley
  • Garden cress
  • Chervil
  • Chives, finely sliced
  • Sea salt
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

Horseradish Sauce

  • Sauté Shallots in oil without coloring, deglaze with white wine add chicken consommé and heavy cream.
  • Add your creamed horseradish and white bread and bring to a simmer, keep simmering until the bread dissolves.
  • Add freshly grated horseradish and remove from heat, blend and pass through sieve season to taste and keep warm.

Silky Potatoes

  • Cook your potatoes in salt water. Once cooked strain well and steam out in the oven by 70c for 4-5 minutes, pass quickly thru a fine sieve add your soft butter (unsalted) and season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Wagyu Beef

  • Season the Wagyu beef with salt and plenty freshly cracked black pepper, shortly char on the hot stove cool down and roll tide with cellophane wrap and place in the freezer.
  • When half frozen slice the meat on the slicer or finely with a knife.

Step aboard the world’s greatest ships

Each month we’re showcasing our cruise partners to bring you the latest on the cruise line and their ships. With different cruising styles and a variety of ships to choose from, you’ll find these profiles helpful for selecting the cruise that’s right for you.

Delight in the Thrill of Discovery

Photo: Silversea

Silversea’s small luxury ships are designed for those who delight in the thrill of discovery while indulging mind and body in the most lavish surroundings imaginable. All accommodations are spacious, ocean-view suites that include butler service, and most include private verandas. Silversea voyages and cruise expeditions sail to over 900 destinations on all seven continents, more than any other cruise line.

The Ship

Our ships may travel to every corner of the globe, taking in an exciting variety of cultures and landscapes, but some things remain unchanged wherever we take you: our exceptional personalized service, impressive accommodation and the atmosphere of luxurious indulgence on board. Our Fleet Even the largest of our nine ships accommodates only six hundred and eight guests and some are much smaller still. Every voyage feels intimate and exciting, sailing to over nine hundred destinations on all seven continents. Silversea’s purpose-built expedition ships are designed specifically for navigating waters of some of the world’s most remote destinations and transport you to the furthermost boundaries of the planet. With all-inclusive dining, service and shore excursions, this is expedition cruising at its very best. Award-winning itineraries make for the perfect combination of adventure and comfort.

With the aim of amplifying guests’ onboard experience in line with the successful design of Silversea’s flagship, Silver Muse, the lengthening project has brought the ship to an exceptional standard: among other improvements, stylish décor enhancements have brought superlative comfort and a sense of spaciousness to public areas and suites; the ship’s pool deck has been enlarged; a new eight-restaurant arrangement has increased dining options, with the introduction of Spaccanapoli, Silver Note, Atlantide, and Indochine, as well as the renovation of La Terrazza; and a number of new amenities have upgraded the onboard offering, including the Arts Café, Tor’s Observation Library, the Zagara Spa, the Panorama Lounge, and the chic Dolce Vita lounge.

The Ship
Silversea

Accommodations

Silversea’s luxurious suites offer you more space in greater style. Ours is one of the highest space-per-guest ratios of any luxury cruise line. Every suite features an ocean view, many a private veranda, and triple occupancy suites are also available in some suite categories.

Accommodations
Silversea

Dining

With the importance of food in Italian culture you would expect dining to be a high priority at Silversea. And it most assuredly is. Moreover, gastronomic excellence is a given, thanks to our partnership with the prestigious Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux. No matter where you dine, their influence is readily apparent in the great diversity and freshness of your selections. And every ship also features a diversity of dining venues. The main dining room, The Restaurant, is an open-seating venue where you can dine whenever you please, and where impromptu dinners with new-found friends is a matter of course. After all, with our worldly crowd of international travelers, socializing is one of the things people love most about our luxury cruise ships.

Dining
Silversea

Activities

Our voyages not only take you to the four corners of the globe but keep you entertained as you get there. A varied and exciting enrichment program will invigorate mind, body and soul, so from the tips of your taste buds to the depths of your soul, be prepared for a sensory rollercoaster of discovery while not only aboard but also ashore. No one knows the world like we do. Our travel experience is a second to none and after 23 years in the business, traveling from pole to pole, we truly believe that our in-depth knowledge of our regions is worth a thousand travel guides. So we have carefully sourced some of the world’s most renowned artists, experts and guest speakers who will travel on select voyages in order to offer culturally immersive experiences from a unique perspective. These carefully curated parties and performances have been designed with our partners to engage, enlighten and enrich your time with us, so that whatever your passion, you can indulge it on board.

Activities
Silversea

Family

Bring your family along and enjoy up to 50%  family savings on your 3rd and 4th guest under 18.

Family
Silversea

Services

Our staff-to-guest ratio of nearly one to one, means service excellence is guaranteed. All our guests are pampered equally, with butler service in every suite category. Our excellent-value, all-inclusive fares mean that once you step onboard you can enjoy yourself however you wish without thinking of the cost. Dining, entertainment and almost all of your discretionary onboard expenses are included.

Services
Silversea