Cruising on the Voyager - Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles & Mauritius
About this blog
This will be our third cruise with Voyage of Discovery, but this time on a new ship, the Voyager, which proved to be disappointing. Just a note regarding the land segment of our trip. It was arranged by Voyages of Discovery with a company known as TCI. Our recommendation is to not use TCI as the organization of the trip was poor and the tour guide we had could be dubbed as "the World's Slowest Talker". Although he had plenty of information, he paused for 30 seconds or so between thoughts and spoke in a monotone. The route of the tour was poorly planned and we spent as much as 4 hours or more on the road going from location to location. Then, our trip back to Colombo took us longer than the flight from London to Colombo because the tour took us to a destination, not on our original itinerary, to sell us therapeutic spices that took us more than 5 hours out of our way! We sent a 2 page letter to both Voyages of Discovery and TCI complaining about our misadventures.
Prior to the departure of our cruise we took a 5-Day overland tour of Sri Lanka. In order to get there, we used frequent flyer miles to "purchase" our free business class ticket. Unfortunately, in order to get it, we had to fly from San Francisco to London, to Bangkok, and then to Colombo. However, when we got to London we discovered that our Thai Air Flight had been cancelled and we were scheduled to fly out a day later. After lots of finagling, we managed a non-stop flight on Sri Lanka Airlines which got us into Colombo a day early. The trip was worth it but having United Frequent Flyers Mileage is not as we were never notified of the flight cancellation.
Sri Lanka is one of Asia's richest treasure troves with no fewer than seven amazing UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites. Upon arrival in Colombo we had to arrange for a hotel and taxi for the night before we joined our tour group the next day at another hotel.
In the heart of Sri Lanka is the extraordinary site of Sigiriya - the "Lion Mountain", is considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the world. The lofty rock dominating the neighboring plateau consists of an ancient castle used by King Kasyapa as a hideout in the 5th century from his brother who sought vengeance. The site is both a palace and a fortress. The upper palace is sited on the flat top of the rock, a mid level terrace includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its 1,500 year old frescoes, the lower palace, which clings to the slopes below the rock, and the moats, walls and gardens that extend hundreds of feet out from the base of the rock.
An ancient city sacred to the Buddhist world, the site of Anuradhapura is the first historical capital of Sri Lanka. Established in the 5th century BC, it was considered the greatest monastic city of the ancient world. At its peak it had dozens of monasteries housing thousands of monks. Scattered throughout the city, wonderful ruins give a fascinating insight into the history of the Great Sri Lankan civilization. Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka. The ruins of one of history's most astonishing urban creations are testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers.
Dambulla Rock Temple and the famous Dambulla Caves are the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Many impressive statues carved in living rock and paintings relating to Lord Buddha and his life enrich what is one of the oldest Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka.
The cruise itself was a touch of the exotic, a touch of the idyllic and perhaps even a touch of the unknown. Mist-shrouded mountains, wildlife-rich jungle and rolling tea plantations, pearl-shaped Sri Lanka promised great geographic diversity. A spectacular skyline of candy-colored skyscrapers, Male, the capital of the Maldives, manages to be both a city and an island, while sublime Gan Island (an uninhabited island) is the quintessential Maldives at least this is what the travel brochure indicated. The gentle ebb and flow of crystal, clear waters against pristine white sands perfectly mirrors the relaxed pace of life on the Seychelles where Praslin is a timeless nature reserve and La Digue is a true paradise. Colonial trails led to Mauritius - the perfect end to a wonderful voyage.
Our flight home was through Emirates Air via Dubai and then to our final destination of San Francisco. A very long day of nearly 24 hours of flying time plus a bit of layover time.