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Description: SY Sea Star sailing I Location: Seychelles I Date: March 2022 I Copyright: SHIPS@SEA

SY SEA STAR – active Seychelles cruise under white sails

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You can find all SEA STAR photos here under Views of Sea Star.

How about a trip to another world? In these turbulent times? It sounds just as tempting as the published program of Silhouette Cruises. For this, we gladly accept a long-distance flight and arrive on the island archipelago of the Seychelles early in the morning after a 10-hour flight. „Seychelles – another world“, the island nation confidently advertises its „other world“ – and it may well do so, as we discover in the following days.

In the harbor of Victoria, the youngest sailing cruise ship of the cruise line is ready for boarding: The 9-member crew of the SY Sea Star welcomes us and the other passengers at the stern, where we enter the ship after a mini tender ride. The current geopolitical situation has melted the number of guests: at short notice, 10 guests have not arrived and we are just a group of eight.

Traveling with Silhouette is personal, friendly, informal and, above all, warm-hearted. The crew is mainly from the islands; only two crew members come from Israel and the Philippines. One thing unites them all: good mood. Everyone laughs, sings and dances barefoot(!) around the ship. The good mood is contagious and so we are soon just as elated despite the jet lag.

Not a topic: COVID

While laughter and easiness are obviously part of the DNA on board, the pandemic remains on land. There are some general behavioral guidelines in this regard – nothing more. No test’s, no temperature taking, no vaccination obligation, no questionnaires and no masks.

The situation is different on land: In the Seychelles, everyone is expected to wear a mask. Almost always, except on the beach. Violations are even punishable by law. Nevertheless: by far not all Seychellios adhere to this and nothing happens. „Surprisingly“, the crew and guests on board also remain safe and sound and are allowed to enjoy life as it has always been on board a cruise ship.

Wavy kickoff

Randy is our skipper – he doesn’t like to be called “ Captain “ – and so he is the one who gives us the briefing about the trip and safety on board. The 32 year old makes a confident and experienced impression and is as well the youngest skipper in the Silhouette Cruises fleet.

Shortly afterwards, the ropes are cast off in Victoria harbor and the crew maneuvers the SEA STAR around the island ferries and out into the open sea. As soon as we reach sea, the cloudy sky opens up and we have to deal with sunshine and a turbulent swell. The first leg towards Curieuse Island is the longest of the trip and we can immediately hold on tight: the rolling motions are quite tidy and some waves can be heard hitting the hull.

Diving with turtles

We reach the first anchorage spot in the late afternoon between Praslin and Curieuse Island. The uninhabited Curieuse Island is famous for its tortoise sanctuary and former leper colony. More than 100 year old tortoises walk around freely on the island and love to be fed.

We see their swimming conspecifics again when diving under water: they are clearly more nimble on the way and quickly disappear again.
The first dinner is served „Al Fresco“ at the stern. The grilled „Red Snapper“ is delicious – beware of an inconspicuous, but ultra spicy sauce: the Creole cuisine is known for its spice.

SY Sea Star – the cruise yacht

SY Sea Star at anchor in deep blue waters

The layout of the Sea Star is quickly summarized: On the lower deck are all nine guest cabins for up to 20 passengers. All cabins are air-conditioned and have their own bathrooms – all of them with portholes in the cabin and above the toilet – a real eye-catcher and not commonplace. The cabins are large enough for a week-long voyage and are functionally furnished, but have little storage space. The maritime sailing yacht style continues seamlessly with lots of wood on the main deck, which you can walk around via a mini-promenade. In the bow is the salon, which also serves as a (bad weather) restaurant.

The small galley of „Chef“ Francis is located midships. He creates local and international dishes on the plates of the guests in the morning, at noon and in the evening. Towards the stern there is the 24/7 coffee and tea station with a ship’s bar and seating area. „Help yourself“ is the welcome motto here when no one from the crew is present: you simply note down the drinks consumed yourself on a sheet of paper. Confidence is a matter of course on board. A circumstance that also applies to the cabins, since no cabin keys are provided.

Under sun sails at the stern is a large table for outdoor dining and behind it is the small marina, accessible by stairs, for water sports activities. The „fly bridge“ and sunbathing areas are located above the superstructure amidships between the three masts of the Sea Star. A great panorama offers itself over the completely accessible bow area. Our favorite place is – it quickly becomes clear – in the bowsprit. What a view when you are sitting above the sea and plowing through the spray. A unique pleasure!

The ship, which is about twenty years old, is well maintained, although you notice the age in a few places, such as in the bathrooms or on parts of the ship’s furnishings. Not so nice is the occasional smell of oil below deck: despite a well-working air conditioning system, this was especially present at the beginning of the voyage. Overall, SY Sea Star is a cozy maritime sailing cruise ship with charm and best suited for her area of operation.

Caution! Low ceilings below deck

Next stop: Dream Island

After a first diving trip of the day followed by breakfast, we raise anchor to La Digue. It’s an active shore excursion: by bike we pedal south along the coast and visit the nature park L’Union Estate with its picture-book beach Anse Source D’Argent. The ride on the bike: a dream. On the way there we pass vanilla plantations and the so typical smell is quite wonderful in the air. Hmmmm. Then the beach & the water: dreamlike and almost abandoned. The next route to the beaches Grande Anse and Petit Anse: beautifully green and hilly. The beaches: fine and sandy with breaking waves. You are almost all to yourself here and have the most beautiful panorama you can imagine. La Digue is an absolute dream tip and a „must-see“.

In the late afternoon we continue our wave-riding journey to Ave Maria Island for a swim stop at anchorage. Snorkeling makes clear what the Sea Star instructors have already told us: almost all corals are dead. The water has become with constant 30°C over the years simply too warm. Therefore the seabed looks sad. On the other hand, the underwater fauna is pleasing: many colorful fish, rays and even octopuses can be observed. By the way, our fellow divers have spotted sharks several times and they are common here. Supposedly they are quite harmless – but now we are a bit suspicious.

The short trip into the sunset leads us to the anchorage spot in the north of Praslin. A wonderful play of colors at sunset awaits us – the new moon is there as an audience, too.

Night activity on deck

The fresh water supplies on board have to be replenished and therefore it is necessary to bunker water. The action in the dark at anchor provides for tense spectators on deck: With the dinghy, the Sea Star is moored at four buoys and then our two diving instructors are to connect a fresh water pipe coming from land and located under water to the Sea Star. The ambitious action is finally cancelled – the nightly effort is too big. Refilling of the up to 12.000 liters is postponed until the following morning and is routinely carried out in daylight. Stunning, what all exists on the high seas.

Vallée de Mai & Coco del Mer

With an early breakfast on the Sea Star – Stern Terrace we start into another active day: An organized excursion takes us to the Praslin National Park „Valée de Mai“. This unique UNESCO reserve is home to, among other things, the impressive Coco de Mer Seychelles palms. The palm owes its name to where it was found: many centuries ago, the striking palm fruits were found in the sea before their place of origin was even known. After a fantastic guided tour through the green island jungle, we dive into the beach life of Cote D’Or in the north.

The afternoon is dedicated to water sports: extended kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and diving are offered from on board and used intensively by all guests. We also try out stand-up paddling – quite wobbly, but it’s a lot of fun to fall into the warm water again and again. Much to the delight of skipper Randy who always has a good eye on all activities.

Although the Sea Star didn’t leave her anchorage position today, it has been a very memorable cruise day.

Booby – Diving & Arid Birds

„Anchor up“ is the motto in the morning: at sunrise we set course for Booby Island and have a good swing for the 3NM short distance. Those who dare to get out of bed have the chance to dive into the underwater world. Breakfast is served on the way to Aride: like every meal so far outside at the stern. There is no better way to combine enjoyment and cruising in the Seychelles. The nature reserve Aride attracts with the largest bird colony of the island state. No less than five species are endemic here – an instructive hiking trail shows us the flora and fauna of the island. Many animals can be observed up close, such as the Seychelles Skink Gecko, the Arnolds Giant Tortoise or the Red-Tailed Tropicbird.

We are sailing…

The Sea Star shows her sailing qualities on the somewhat longer legs. If the wind allows it, the sails are set completely or partially. The silhouette of the sailing yacht then looks particularly attractive. During our voyage, the sails are set four times: this is done by the deck crew at amazing speed by hand with the help of a winch. Sitting under the blown sails, in the middle of the island paradise, makes the cruise very special and we feel we have really arrived on board.

Shadows in paradise

At least one day we have to do without the sun this week: Rain showers and cloudy skies define the day for our trip to the private island Grand Soeur. Giant tortoises in subtropical vegetation, a snorkeling excursion off the island coast and surf bathing in front of the wave-breaking north coast easily compensate for the predominantly shady day.

Crew @ work

We experienced how complex it is to maintain a ship and keep it ready for service when we were bunkering water at anchorage. Since the Sea Star is almost exclusively at anchor, all other things have to be done at sea: minor to medium repairs, spare parts supply, garbage disposal, luggage and provisions loading, as well as other maintenance work and countless dinghi trips.

Interested guests are always invited to ask questions and look over the crew’s shoulder without fear of contact. Whoever wants to is able to experience everything closely on board.

The crew is well engaged, but always there for the passengers: with the best mood. Without exception. Sometimes even magic crew hands collect the guests‘ swimwear dried on the railing before a short rain shower makes them wet again.

Summary

With Silhouette Cruises‘ Sea Star, you can forget time for a week on the Seychelles and drift between dream islands: we visited nine of them and got to know each in a very different – diverse way. The solid sailing cruise yacht convinces with its extremely friendly-helpful crew, which is willing to meet the wishes of the guests. Divers, water sports enthusiasts, beach lovers and honeymooners all get their money’s worth. The guest mix is colorful: Americans, Europeans, Africans and even Australians are regularly welcomed on board. The shipping company, founded in 1997, knows how to combine sailing romance with modernity without being too exclusive. On the contrary, guests come as travelers and leave as part of the Silhouette family. A cruise can hardly be more warm-hearted and relaxed – that is for sure for us after this great Sea Star week. Seychelles-alike: „another world“.

SY Sea Star partly with set sail

ADVERTISEMENT: SHIPS@SEA traveled at the invitation of Silhouette Cruises, and with the support of the wonderful Sea Star crew, the Seychelles Tourist Board and the Will Kommunikation agency.

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