Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The last cruise frontier?

Maldives: The last cruise frontier?

By Tom Stieghorst
*Insight In a recent interview, I asked Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman Richard Fain what travel destination was on his bucket list, and after a moment’s thought he said, “the Maldives.”

The islands in the Indian Ocean are so remote that Fain felt like he could get away from everything by going there.

Indeed, the Indian Ocean may be the most out-of-the-way cruise destination you’d ever want to experience. With the rise in expedition cruises to the Antarctic, the Indian Ocean may be the last frontier.

Among the lines going to the Maldives are Costa Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruises.
*TomStieghorst

Seabourn describes the islands as “tiny specks in a vast expanse of ocean.” Male, the main inhabited city in the chain, is described by Conde Nast Traveler as “a combination of the Robinson Crusoe paradise of childhood dreams and a honeymoon destination fit for the Hollywood A-list.”

What is there to do there? “Absolutely nothing,” Fain said.

Most of these lines visit the Maldives on an itinerary from southern or eastern Africa to India or Southeast Asia. It is a long, thin route that involves lots of sea days, a long flight from North America — unless you’re on a world cruise — and a considerable expense.

Seabourn’s cruise next January sandwiches a visit to Male and Colombo, Sri Lanka, in the middle of eight long sea days on a voyage between South Africa and Singapore.

Princess has a 46-day journey on its schedule that takes visitors to the Maldives on an “odyssey” from Australia to South Africa.

Oceania Cruises plans to be there Dec. 3 and 4 on a 30-day cruise from Dubai to Cape Town, South Africa. In the next few years Silversea Cruises has four voyages with the Maldives on the itinerary, including a 17-day trip between Singapore and Mombasa, Kenya, next March.

In 2016, Silversea’s new expedition ship, the Silver Discoverer, will offer a 17-night cruise that starts in Phuket, Thailand and ends in Male, after stops in Myanmar, India’s Andaman Islands and Yala National Park in Sri Lanka.

So the next time a client says they’ve “been there done that” when you suggest an ocean cruise, you might respond with, “Have you thought about going to the Maldives?”