So what is there to do in this region of the world? Cruises from Mauritius -- located off the southeast coast of Africa (approximately 350 miles from Madagascar) -- will feature guided tours of "cultural highlights" in each port. Of course, visits to the Indian Ocean's impressive beaches will be a focal point onshore. As Mark Twain noted of Mauritius in "Following the Equator" (and this can be extrapolated to the rest of the region), "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius." Other opportunities offered include visits to Mauritius' Pamplemousses Botanical Garden (first opened in 1735), safaris in Kenya and dolphin-watching trips in Mayotte.
Costa Marina will be offering six 14-day cruises departing from Mauritius from December 22, 2007 to March 1, 2008. The itinerary features a two-day stop in Mauritius and Seychelles (Mahe); a one-day call in Kenya (Mombasa); a one-day call in Mayote (a French island territory); one-day calls in Nosy Be and Toamasina (both in Madagascar); and a stop in Reunion. Additionally, there will be two 27-day repositioning cruises from Savona to Mauritius, and vice versa, leaving on November 27, 2007 and March 14, 2008.
Editor's Note: Cruisers should be aware that the itineraries are offered during the region's traditionally hot, wet and humid season, and cyclones are possible November through April.
Although Marina's embarkation/debarkation out of Mauritius will be an industry first, there are other lines with scheduled calls at the island. During the same 2007/2008 season, MSC Melody and Holland America's Prinsendam will make stops in Mauritius' Port Louis.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor