indian oceanSEYCHELLESAcluster of 115 islands lying just south of theequator, the Seychelles comprises ancientgranite and coral atolls with aquamarinelagoons and powdery sands. The archipelago is hometo its own unique ecology and provides a world of pureescapism where time stands still. Island hoppingprovides the perfect opportunity to experience thesubtle changes between the pristine landscapes. MALDIVESLying off the southern tip of India, the slenderisland chain of the Maldives is strewn across theshimmering azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Itsthousands of islands are surrounded by infiniteshades of blue water, home to dazzling underwatercoral gardens. Spend lazy days on the beaches ofpost-card perfect islands, or diving beneath the clearwaters that teem with colourful fish. SOUTHEAST ASIAFlavoured by some of the most exotic, dynamicand intriguing cultures in the world, thecoastlines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia andMalaysia are truly captivating. Thailand is the land ofsmiles, offering timeless serenity inextricablyinterwoven with its ancient and mystical Buddhistheritage. Equally hospitable is the enigmatic Vietnam,a country that retains many of the hallmarks of itscolonial past. Or you may like to journey to Cambodiato relax on its vibrant coastline, or to Malaysia, deep inthe heart of Southeast Asia, to experience its fusionof Chinese, Indian and native cultures along with a richdiversity of attractions. CRUISING GUIDEI 45
south pacific46IICHARTER COLLECTION 2012FRENCH POLYNESIAAparadise of turquoise lagoons, lush sceneryand deserted beaches, the islands of FrenchPolynesia are marooned in an idyllic ocean,forgotten by the 21st century. More than 130 islands arescattered over five archipelagos in three main islandgroups. The Leeward Islands are home to lush greenrainforests soaring thousands of feet out of turquoiselagoons, whilst the volcanic formed islands of Tahiti aresurrounded by coral reef. The ambience is one of laid-back exclusivity, blending cool French chic with warmlocal smiles. Enchanting atolls, unique culinarytraditions, a superb tropical climate fanned by tradewinds; the warm waters of the South Pacific set thescene for an unforgettable desert island charter. AUSTRALIAAustralia is a land of huge contrasts and itscoastline is just as varied. Dotted around theeast coast are sophisticated cities such asCairns, Brisbane and Melbourne and Sydney - anattraction in itself with its infamous Opera House,Sydney Harbour Bridge and bustling bars and bistros.Further up the coastline, lying off the east coast ofCairns is the stunning Great Barrier Reef, and inbetween lie miles of deserted beaches. NEW ZEALANDNew Zealand's two islands have long been ayachtsman's paradise with some of theworld's finest sailing waters and a superbchoice of anchorages. South Island is home to theMarlborough Sounds offering idyllic cruising amongstdramatic alpine and coastal landscapes, whilst NorthIsland is home to Auckland, the renowned 'city ofsails'; the perfect backdrop for an adventurouscharter.