Africa 2023:
Day 32-33 - Seychelles


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Africa 2023: [Pre-Cruise] [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2-8 - At Sea] [Day 9 - Funchal] [Day 10 - Arrecife] [Day 11 - Agadir] [Day 12 - Casablanca] [Day 13-14 - At Sea] [Day 15 - Tunisia] [Day 16 - At Sea] [Day 17 - Crete] [Day 18 - At Sea] [Day 19 - Cyprus] [Day 20 - At Sea] [Day 21 - Suez Canal] [Day 22 - Safaga] [Day 23-26 - At Sea] [Day 27 - Salalah] [Day 28-31 - At Sea] [Day 32-33 - Seychelles] [Day 34-35 - At Sea] [Day 36-37 - Zanzibar] [Day 38 - At Sea] [Day 39 - Mayotte] [Day 40 - Madagascar] [Day 41-42 - At Sea] [Day 43 - Mozambique] [Day 44 - Durban] [Day 45-46 - At Sea] [Day 47-48 - Cape Town] [Day 49 - At Sea] [Day 50 - Luderitz] [Day 51 - Walvis Bay] [Day 52-53 - At Sea] [Day 54 - Angola] [Day 55-57 - At Sea] [Day 58 - Ghana] [Day 59 - Côte d'Ivoire] [Day 60-61 - At Sea] [Day 62 - The Gambia] [Day 63 - Senegal] [Day 64 - At Sea] [Day 65 - Cape Verde] [Day 66-70 - At Sea] [Day 71 - Puerto Rico] [Day 72-73 - At Sea] [Day 74 - Ft. Lauderdale]

Friday, November 10, 2023: Welcome to the Seychelles! We were approaching Mahé, the largest island in the archipelago.
Everything was lush and green which was quite a change from our last two ports.
By 8:00 AM, we were tied up to the pier, ...
... and a few minutes later, the ship was cleared by port authorities and passengers started to disembark. It was no surprise to us that the guy in black was the first one on shore. We've run into him several times on the ship and he's always the first one in line. 
The pier area was beautiful, with a tree-lined walkway and well-marked path out from the secure area near the ship to the town center.
We had a shore excursion planned for first thing this morning, and after getting our tour stickers and waiting for our number to be called, we were off the ship, ...
... and walking to a catamaran that was conveniently tied up right behind our ship.
Score! We snagged a great seat on the bow of the catamaran.
While we waited for everyone to board, Debbie played the part of personal photographer for another passenger's photo shoot. 
Right on schedule, we were pulling away from the pier and leaving the Zuiderdam behind.
The water in the harbor was a beautiful blue color and was very clear.
We cruised to the waters of the Saint-Anne Marine National Park, ...
... where we could see Ile Moyenne (left) and Round Island (right) in the distance. We were going to be snorkeling off of Ile Moyenne later in the trip.
But that would be happening later. Right now, we were tying up to another ship.  Half of the passengers would be transferring over to a semi-submersible ship to take an underwater look at the coral and fish in the bay, ...
... while the other half stayed aboard the catamaran for a short cruise to a nearby reef ...
... where the crew gave each person a piece of bread to feed the fish. As the first crumbs were hitting the water, ...
... thousands of fish rushed the surface. Most were small, fast, and determined to get to the pieces of bread, ...
... but we could see huge fish content to stay just below the surface. These were batfish and were easily the size of dinner plates.
After thirty minutes or so, we were back at the semi-submersible, filing aboard, ...
... and going below the waterline. We were thrilled to discover that the below-decks portion of the sub was air-conditioned.
Almost immediately, this interesting-looking fish swam by the windows, which was a good sign.
What's that outside Debbie's window?
Fish! There were lots of sergeant majors with their distinctive stripes, ...
... beautiful coral and the occasional giant clam, ...
... medium sized fish, ...
... and large fish.
This huge silver fish is a member of the Jack family.
Here's a variety of fish.
There were plenty of fish on both sides of the sub, ...
... and after our thirty minutes were up, we transferred back to the catamaran to continue our scenic cruise.
What kind of bird is that? Well, it's actually a fruit bat. This is the best photo we managed to get of them this morning. Stay tuned to see if we get a better photo later.
Around 10:30 AM, we pulled up to a buoy off the coast of Ile Moyenne, or Middle Island. Debbie was in the water as soon as they put the ladder down, ...
... while Tom got trapped behind someone who decided that the best place to see if their fins fit was on the bottom step of the ladder.
Finally in the water, Debbie took a photo of Tom to get a timestamp of when our snorkel started, ...
... and Tom took a photo of Debbie because she's gorgeous.
It was a very short swim to the reef, and we started seeing fish immediately.
The sergeant majors were very inquisitive, swimming right up to us, even though Tom was clearly trying to take a photo ...
... of the hundreds of little blue fish down below.
Aren't they pretty? That white and brown one on the right is called a chocolate dip.
Whoa. We've never seen this fish before. It's an Oriental sweetlips, which is only found in the Indian Ocean.
This Moorish idol was beautiful.
There were so many fish, ...
... including lots that we've never seen before ...
... like this striped beauty, a sailfin tang. Wow. Just wow.
Fish. Definitely a fish.
Eels or snakes? We think these might be little eels.
See what we mean about the sergeant majors coming right up to you?
They would just swim right in front of your face and camera, begging you to take their photo.
Small fish.
Another small fish.
This threadfin butterflyfish looks like it was woven from strands of white and yellow.
This is a convict tang. Yay! We know that one!
Look at this pretty yellow one with the big black spot. It's a Zanzibar butterflyfish.
This one was all black. The stripe of bright blue near the bottom of it is actually a different fish.
We call this sequence "fish friends."
Awww.
There were some beautiful coral on the reef. This one had the most beautiful flower-like stems with bright blue dots on the tips.
We were there.
So many fish.
We just kept swimming to different parts of the reef and seeing more and more.
This is a bluestreak cleaner wrasse, and it was very hard to photograph.
Sea cucumber.
Checkerboard wrasse.
Parrotfish.
More fish friends.
Long-legged Debbicus.
Beautiful fish among coral.
More beautiful coral with green algae.
Fish.
Fish.
Fish.
After snorkeling for 50 minutes, we were getting tired. This was the first time in a very long time that we were able to snorkel until we decided we were done, rather than being called out of the water. It was a very nice treat.
We swam back to the boat, dried off, ...
... and watched as another boat pulled up and anchored right in front of us, staying for about thirty minutes before collecting everyone and motoring off.
We were delighted that the crew had Coca Cola Light on board. We got two ice cold ones and sat on deck listening to the music and enjoying a perfect day in the sun.
Tom's having fun. Is Debbie having fun?
Oh, yeah. Debbie is having fun.
How could you not be having fun when this is your view?
Two hours after we arrived, it was time to go. Local tender boats picked up the people who had chosen to go ashore and spend their time on the beach.  As we left, we sped past Saint Anne Island ...
... which has a Club Med and other resorts on it.
When the opening bars of "Macarena" started playing, the crew assembled on the front of the boat and started dancing.
Move with me, chant with me, ...
Hey, Macarena. Ay!
There were a couple songs that they had choregraphed, ...
... and we all watched them and enjoyed it very much.
They brought us back to the pier right on time, almost four and a half hours after we'd left.
This pilot boat and tugboat represented all of the colors on the flag of the Seychelles: blue, yellow, red, white, and green.
It looked like it was trash day for the Zuiderdam, ...
... with pallets of broken equipment and furniture being put in bins and hauled away.
Back on board, we dashed up to our cabin, washed up and put our wet snorkeling gear out to dry, and headed up to the Lido Market for a quick lunch.
Debbie's LEGO daily calendar display featured a scene from this morning's snorkeling adventure.
At 3:30 PM, we met up in the Ocean Bar for a private tour organized by fellow passenger Viv. We walked out toward the city center, ...
... and got a closer look at some of the Maersk that was abundant in the harbor.
There were sixteen of us for tonight's tour, and we were delighted to all be able to fit on one bus rather than the the two smaller vans that were originally planned for the tour.
A little after 4:00 PM, we headed out, passing this cool-looking building named Dockland that was right outside the harbor area.
We drove down the main street near the waterfront, passing roundabouts with fountains, ...
... and floral displays, ...
... and headed up the hillside ...
... to the La Misère viewpoint which allowed an amazing view of the eastern side of the island. There was a rainstorm and a beautiful rainbow to the south by the international airport, ...
... and the harbor and our ship to the north.
Bat! This is a much better photo of the fruit bats that were flying overhead.
After ten or fifteen minutes at the viewpoint, we headed further up the mountain, ...
... and back down again, ...
... until we reached the western shore.
We loved these exposed sections of granite that make up the island's core.
As we reached the western foot of the mountain, our driver pointed out a solitary tower that used to belong to the British Broadcasting System, a legacy of the island's British colonial heritage.
Someday, oh someday, we might make it to the island of Mauritius and have a Phoenix beer there. Today is not that day, however.
So much green.
We stopped at this convenience store so that two of our fellow passengers could buy some water, ...
... and then we continued northward along the aptly-named West Coast Road.
This shop was advertising SeyPearl ginger ale which is produced locally on the island.
What a pretty setting for a church.
As we continued northward, we passed a mangrove swamp, ...
... just before reaching the town of Port Launay. They had an ad for Seybrew which is brewed locally.
This Tasty Corner Fast Food food truck was right across the street from our first beach stop, ...
... at Port Launay Beach. We walked through the parking area, ...
... and out onto this gorgeous sandy beach.
We thought long and hard about taking off our shoes and wading into the water, but we didn't want to be wet for the remainder of the tour.
We headed south on West Coast Road and passed the mangroves again.
Everything here was well maintained, and some of the stonework was stunningly beautiful. There was landscaping at all of the intersections. This island is a paradise.
The road ran right along the water in places, ...
... and climbed over hills in others. Note the bat in the upper right corner of the photo. They were everywhere.
Our next stop was at Grand Anse Beach, the longest beach on the island.
There were very few people on the beach, which was lovely.
Debbie took a photo of our fellow passenger Stephanie as she stood in the ocean and looked out to sea.
Oh, we look fabulous!
We passed endless beaches as we continued south, ...
... before we stopped at Anse Louis Beach to see the sunset. There was a large granite cliff just to the south of the beach, and periodically bats would fly out of the trees and pass high overhead.
We all gathered with our cameras out, ...
... waiting for the sun to set ...
... and to cast an orange glow on the storm clouds in the distance.
Yes! Another good bat photo as one passed directly overhead.
Gorgeous.
We crossed the southern end of the island's mountainous spine, seeing another ad for SeyBrew beer as we headed up the, you guessed it, East Coast Road.
As we got closer to Victoria, we passed the international airport on the southeastern coast, ...
... and then we were back in the harbor district, with fish sculptures in the roundabouts, ...
... hotels and shopping, ...
... and more beautiful sculptures.
Our tour ended around 7:15 PM, and we took the pedestrian walkway back into the port, ...
... ending up back at our big, beautiful ship.
It was all lit up, with Zuiderdam showing in blue lights high up near the center of the ship. The six rectangles on poles above the Zuiderdam sign are half of the Starlink antennas on board.
We were in port overnight, and when we went to sleep, we could still see the lights from houses up on the hillside as we lay in bed.

Saturday, November 11, 2023: Today was going to be another busy day. We had a full day tour scheduled to the nearby island of Praslin. Buses were lining up on the pier before 8:00 AM.
It was bothering Tom that our Africa wall map had the Seychelles in the wrong location, so he used Post-It notes to fix it. He's such a geography nerd.
When we went forward on deck two to gather for our tour, the starboard bulkhead door leading to the Billboard Online Lounge was closed, forcing us to go forward along the port side. After skirting the back of the Rolling Stone Lounge, we entered the Gallery Bar, which we'd never seen. It looked like a cozy sports bar, with TVs showing a Formula 1 race in progress.
Here's the view from the casino-side entrance.
When they called our tour group at 8:30 AM, we disembarked our ship and headed for a ferry that was tied up just behind our ship. The tour description had said that the ferry was not exclusive to Holland America guests, but that was incorrect.
There was limited seating on the open deck upstairs, and plenty of seating in the nice air-conditioned space on the main deck. We opted for being inside and cool. There would be plenty of time later for being in the sun.
By 8:45 AM, everyone was aboard, and we headed out into the smooth water of the harbor, ...
... and then when we reached the open ocean, there was a moderate swell that was hitting us diagonally and and causing the boat to take on a corkscrew motion. We sped up to 25 knots and raced east toward Praslin Island.
About an hour later, we were entering Saint Anne Bay ...
... and right at 10:00 AM, we were off the ferry and heading out to meet our tour guide, Rodney, and our driver, Richard.
As we drove toward the island's interior, first thing we learned is that the island name is pronounced "Prah-lin" rather than "Pras-lin." The "s" is silent, like the "s" in Mardi Gras. We passed lots of palm trees on the way inland, ...
... and arrived at our first stop, the Vallée De Mai nature park.
It's a time capsule! They placed a time capsule here to mark 30 years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is scheduled to be opened in 2043.
The reserve comprises 48 acres, but we were only going to see a small part of it today.
The park was beautiful, with a wide, very well-maintained path. There were also surprisingly few bugs, considering this was a tropical jungle. We had wipes with bug repellent ready to apply at a moment's notice, but we never needed them.
Rodney stopped our group at a table covered with nuts from the coco de mer palm tree.
This tree produces the largest seeds of any plant in the world.
The double coconut from this tree can weigh up to nearly 80 pounds, with the husk still on. This one that Tom is holding, with the husk removed, is probably close to 30 pounds.
The coco de mer tree is interesting also because there is a male tree and a female tree. Debbie is holding the part of the male tree that produces pollen used to create the giant nut that Tom is holding.
As we continued our walk, we saw many different types of palm trees.
The area containing the park is the only location on the island where all six types of palm trees endemic to the island are naturally occurring.
Snail! This little guy was probably as large as the end of your pinky.
We were very impressed with how the park was maintained, even down to how the drainage channels were cut into the walkways. Well done!
Teeny-tiny fern.
At our first crossroad, we took the left-hand fork and continued on the central path.
Our guide pointed out these slender palm trees, the appropriately-named stilt palm trees. The trunks of the trees never touch the ground. Instead, they grow these long stilt-like roots that hold it up off the ground. Wild.
Black parrot! Black parrot! We were very fortunate to have a rare black parrot fly right over our head and then perch on a branch where we could see it. This is the national bird of the Seychelles, and it is only found on this island. If only Debbie had brought her black LEGO parrot. Yes, it's a real thing.
There were allspice trees along the walkway, and our guide passed around some of the dried flowers for everyone to smell. They smelled like a combination of nutmeg and cinnamon, which was really nice.
We came to a wide space with a bench to rest on. If you sit here, ...
... watch out for falling coconuts!
Here's the male flower of the coco de mer with a bright green gecko inadvertently helping the pollination process. Our guide said that the pollenation process is 10% gecko, 90% wind.
Oooh, this tree had some wicked spikes on it.
Look at the pretty colors on the trunk of this tree.
Nearby, there was a beautiful spider web with a white spider right in the center. 
Right in the center of the path, there was a coco de mer bowl, which is the base of a coco de mer palm tree that has decayed and rotted away. These bowls are where the black parrots prefer to build their nests. The holes in the bowl, ...
... are for the roots to grow through.
We headed back toward the entrance, and Tom spotted this huge spider in a web stretching off to the side of the path. This is the female palm spider which got its name not from the nearby trees, but by being as large as your outstretched palm and it was. Yikes!
Our guide pointed out this large termite sac on the trunk of this tree. He said they don't eat the trees here, but instead they feed on the decayed plant matter on the forest floor.
We walked back through the entrance, got back on the bus, and headed north along the east coast of the island.
There were some beautiful stretches of water right along the road as we drove, ...
... and some lovely beaches, ...
... more beautiful ocean, ...
... and gorgeous granite boulders right along the shore.
We arrived at our next stop, the beach at Anse Lazio, just after 11:30 AM.
It was an absolutely beautiful beach, with a long stretch of sand all along the bay, ...
... and clear water as far as the eye could see.
We'd brought snorkeling gear along, but after not seeing any reef in the bay, we decided against getting into the water, ...
... and instead went to the restaurant/bar that was just off the beach intending to sit and have a drink.
After confirming with a server that we wanted drinks, and then waiting forever for him to return, ...
... we finally decided to abandon the idea of cold beers and instead found some chairs in the shade ...
... and enjoyed the bottle of Sey Pearl cocktail de fruits that our guide had handed out when we got off the bus.
As we sat there, a crab darted out of a hole on our side of the road and quickly made its way to the other side, ...
... where it took shelter in a different hole. After just a few seconds, it decided that Debbie probably wasn't dangerous, and it came out again and continued toward the beach.
We walked back out to the beach ourselves, and took a last look around, ...
... before doing some shopping on our way back toward the bus.
Aww. Look at the cute fruit bat stuffed animal hanging from the ceiling. Somewhere on this island, there is a child who won't go to sleep without their bat stuffie.
Score! They have Takamaka Rum! We bought a small bottle of coconut rum and then went to the bus.
Our next stop was lunch at a restaurant in Cote d'Or. We passed this colorfully painted skydiving van on the way ...
... to La Lauriers restaurant, ...
... where we were seated in a beautiful open-air restaurant.
While we waited for the buffet lunch to be ready, we took photos of the restaurant, including the kitty that briefly stopped by.
There was a reception area off to the right of the dining area with cool light fixtures ...
... and a beautiful pool.
They had empty coco de mer husks covering a table as decorations above a painted tortoise statue. The Seychelles giant domed tortoise was once thought to be extinct, but has recently been rediscovered.
There were two parts to the buffet. There was a salad table, ...
... and a line for the grill.
When the buffet was ready, we decided to try the salad line first, since its line was the shortest. Spoiler alert: we never made it to the grill line. The line for that never really got shorter, ...
... and we found that they had a ceviche on the salad table that was delicious. That's the ceviche on the left. There was a seafood salad with calamari and carrots that was also very good.
Tom got a slaw made from grated papaya, maybe, and a bell pepper salad to go with his ceviche.
When the line for the grill was still all the way across the restaurant, we went back for seconds on the salad line. Water and soda was included with lunch, so we both had a Coca Cola Light with lunch.
Dessert was coconut nouget, a passion fruit mousse, and a banana muffin.
While everyone else was still waiting for the grill, we took advantage of the empty restrooms, ...
... and then headed outside to do some exploring. The wall lining the driveway to the restaurant was painted with various sea creatures including a lobster, an octopus, ...
... seahorses, ...
... lionfish, ...
... the coolest crab ever, and a several panels with unidentified fish.
There was a beach access not far from the restaurant, ...
... which revealed a nice stretch of sandy beach, ...
... that wasn't very crowded considering it was a sunny Saturday afternoon.
We only had twenty minutes left before we had to be back to the bus, otherwise we might have gone for a swim here.
After a very brief stop in a souvenir store by the beach, we headed back to the restaurant, ...
... and looked at the flowers decorating the central courtyard where the buses were parked.
Debbie spotted this beautiful heliconia hanging down not far from our bus. She was very happy not only that we saw it, but that she knew what it was.
Well, hello, little fella. This bird is a Madagascar fody.
Just after 2:00 PM, we left the Cote d'Or area, ...
... and arrived at the ferry landing less than ten minutes later.
This wasn't the same fast ferry boat that we took this morning, but a catamaran owned by the company providing our tour, Mason's Travel. We headed to the top deck and got seats right up front. Debbie is pleased with our choice.
The boat left the pier in Saint Anne's bay right at 2:20 PM for the two hour trip back to Victoria on Mahé.
The ride back got even better when Tom brought back two ice cold Coca Cola Lights from the bar.
That's La Digue Island. We had hoped to be able to visit that island as well, but since you can only get there by ferry from Praslin Island, a visit was going to take more time than we had.
That's Mahé in the distance, just under 30 miles away.
Oooh. Maybe we'll get some rain on the way there. Probably not though.
We kept looking down at the completely empty bow and wondered if we should move down there. It was a perfect day, and we hadn't been out in the sun very much, ...
... so why not! We threw our stuff behind the benches in the shade, ...
... and enjoyed having the entire bow to ourselves.
Speaking of the fast ferry we took over to Praslin, here it is heading back to Praslin with a fresh load of passengers. Our guide had explained that their company needed to charter the faster boat in the morning so that we could get over there sooner, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to see everything before running out of time.
Does it get any better than this?
A little after 4:00 PM, we were passing the lighthouse outside Victoria harbor, ...
... where the Zuiderdam was waiting for us.
We pulled up right behind the ship, and had twenty minutes to spare before we all had to be aboard for sail out.
Every time we passed this anchor on previous trips off the ship, there had been someone sitting on the bench in front of it. Now, as the ship was preparing to leave, it was finally empty and we could photograph it.
Our favorite part of coming back on board is when the crew gives you ice cold towels when you enter the boarding line.
On a cruise ship, every passenger has to complete a mandatory muster drill every 30 days, and today was when it had to be completed. To make it more complicated, it had to be completed between 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM. Everyone who had been on an all-day tour, like us, hurried aboard, immediately went to their muster station on deck three, and had their boarding passes scanned to show that they had participated in the drill.
LEGO Debbie and Tom spent the day on a deserted island. They had differing opinions on the best way to get help though with Debbie opting for a postcard and Tom opting for a message in a bottle. LEGO Tom was sporting an anchor tattoo in honor of Veteran's Day. 
Ship security didn't seem to care at all that we'd brought a bottle of rum back with us. Yay!
We were going to head outside for sail out, but it was too hot out there.
We set up our chairs in air-conditioned comfort just behind the balcony doors, ...
... and watched as the Seychelles slowly receded. We could see the airport in the distance, just over what we were calling Solar Panel Island.
There was a Qatar Airways jet, ...
... one from Turkish Airlines, ...
... and this pretty one from Condor Airlines, a budget airline based in Germany.
There was an Emirates jet, and just in front of it was an Ethopian Airlines jet. Both had really beautiful paint schemes on their tails.
We rushed outside, ignoring the heat, when Tom saw a drone hovering near the back of the ship. It made a sweeping pass, getting within a hundred meters or so, and then it headed back toward land.
We said farewell to the site of some of the best snorkeling we've ever had. Buh, bye.
Bat! Debbie managed to get this shot of a bat that flew right by the side of the ship.
Such a great final photo of such an elusive target.
The pilot boat caught up to us as we passed Saint Anne Island, ...
... and then we went up to the Lido to get some meat for dinner after only having salad for lunch.
When we came back, we had an invitation to afternoon tea with the captain and the hotel manager for Monday afternoon. As interesting as it might be, we declined. We just aren't "dine with the captain" people.
Sunset at sea is always beautiful but some are definitely better than others.
Can you tell that we turned left toward Tanzania?
We got our last good view of Praslin Island with La Digue in the distance on the far right, ...
.. and our last view of the Seychelles was of the lights on Praslin Island in the fading light.

Day 34 >


Africa 2023: [Pre-Cruise] [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2-8 - At Sea] [Day 9 - Funchal] [Day 10 - Arrecife] [Day 11 - Agadir] [Day 12 - Casablanca] [Day 13-14 - At Sea] [Day 15 - Tunisia] [Day 16 - At Sea] [Day 17 - Crete] [Day 18 - At Sea] [Day 19 - Cyprus] [Day 20 - At Sea] [Day 21 - Suez Canal] [Day 22 - Safaga] [Day 23-26 - At Sea] [Day 27 - Salalah] [Day 28-31 - At Sea] [Day 32-33 - Seychelles] [Day 34-35 - At Sea] [Day 36-37 - Zanzibar] [Day 38 - At Sea] [Day 39 - Mayotte] [Day 40 - Madagascar] [Day 41-42 - At Sea] [Day 43 - Mozambique] [Day 44 - Durban] [Day 45-46 - At Sea] [Day 47-48 - Cape Town] [Day 49 - At Sea] [Day 50 - Luderitz] [Day 51 - Walvis Bay] [Day 52-53 - At Sea] [Day 54 - Angola] [Day 55-57 - At Sea] [Day 58 - Ghana] [Day 59 - Côte d'Ivoire] [Day 60-61 - At Sea] [Day 62 - The Gambia] [Day 63 - Senegal] [Day 64 - At Sea] [Day 65 - Cape Verde] [Day 66-70 - At Sea] [Day 71 - Puerto Rico] [Day 72-73 - At Sea] [Day 74 - Ft. Lauderdale]

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