THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE
These 6 complimentary experiences aboard Crystal Esprit are sure to elevate your spirit.
Travel expert and Crystal Insider guest blogger Skye Mayring (Joan Jetsetter) shares some of her absolute favorite yacht adventures while aboard Crystal Esprit in the Seychelles… and what you can look forward to when the boutique hotel on water repositions to the West Indies this fall!
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. A 150-year-old Aldabra giant tortoise, known to locals simply as George, slowly chewed his way through the branch of leaves I extended toward him. His dinosaur-like arms inched in my direction, and I swear he was smiling at me, a way of saying “thanks” for the healthy snack.
George is one of a dozen giant tortoises who welcomed Crystal Esprit guests to Cousin Island in the Seychelles as part of a complimentary shore excursion. Truly, one of the most surprising aspects of yachting on Crystal Esprit is the quality of its All Exclusive™ experiences and yacht adventures, from ziplining among the treetops and zooming on jet skis to strolling through nature preserves and gardens at your own pace.
At nearly every port of call, Crystal Esprit guests can choose between two complimentary shore excursions, one appealing to adventure-seekers and the other more focused on cultural experiences. Bicycles are available at most ports as well, should guests want to do some of their own exploring. Don’t care to venture far from the ship? Not to worry—there are plenty of watersports (kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling) that can be enjoyed right from the yacht’s marina platform.
What follows, in no particular order, are some of my favorite experiences aboard Crystal Esprit. These experiences not only brightened my days at sea but were also absolutely free.
Champagne and Caviar
Is there anything more decadent that yachting around scenic isles while sipping on champagne and nibbling caviar? I think not. Executive Chef Adam Jenkins ensures that only the finest cuisine is served on board, from canapes during cocktail hour to exotic pastries for dessert. He also treats guests to a champagne and caviar experience either on the beach (weather permitting) or in the comfort of the Cove Lounge. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know your favorite crew members a bit better and mingle with your fellow guests.
Need for Speed
Crystal Esprit boasts many toys, from the ultra-sleek Submersible and a pair of jet skis to three [not sure about number] Zodiacs for tendering ashore. She also houses a 32-foot private excursion yacht for joy rides, complete with a champagne toast (you are sailing with Crystal, after all). The captain will take up to six guests on a brief exploration of the area, including a speedy ride in open water and visits to scenic marinas outfitted with multimillion dollar yachts. Private explorations typically take place the day of embarkation and the day before disembarkation—keep this schedule in mind when booking your flights.
Hike to Great Heights
Our guided hike on Aride Island might have been a challenging one, but the payoff was worth it a thousand times over. Our reward for the hard work was a chance to relax on its white-washed northern cliffs, overlooking the turquoise waters of Indian Ocean. In the distance, we saw thousands of Great and Lesser Frigaebird and even an occasional fruit bat—which it turns out is a local delicacy when stewed in a rich curry sauce. When the ship repositions in the West Indies this fall, opt for the two-hour trek through St. Barts. Guests will hike to Rockefeller Beach, where David Rockefeller built a villa in the 1950s. The views, as you can imagine, are pretty stellar.
Under the Sea
On a private snorkel tour arranged by Crystal Esprit, I swam alongside two loggerhead turtles, saw an eel tuck into a magnificent coral garden and found myself in the middle of thousands of yellow- and black-striped fish. Loggerhead, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles are also common sightings in St. Martin, where Crystal Esprit will be offering a similar adventure this fall. The ‘Power Raft & Snorkel’ excursion in Marigot Bay includes opportunities to search for marine life in Marigot Bay’s crystal-clear waters and sunbathe on pristine, white-sand beaches.
Cousin Island, also known as Bird Island, is home to Seychelles warblers, Seychelles blue pigeon, the Malagasy turtle dove and more than 300,000 nesting seabirds. Informative guides—who double as researchers and live on this tiny island—described their breeding habits and outlined the island’s conservation program. A similar experience can be had on Crystal Esprit at The Butterfly Farm on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. Guests observe the butterflies’ evolutionary cycle from microscopic eggs to pupae and exotic caterpillars. Expect to see hundreds of butterflies including tree nymph from Southeast Asia, blue morpho from the rainforests of South America and local Caribbean longwings.
Near the end of our yachting adventure in the Seychelles, Captain Thomas Larsen made an unexpected announcement. He managed to arrange a beach day for us at Big Sister island, a private island with some of the region’s most sought-after beaches. After tendering to the shore in a Zodiac, we grabbed beach towels, got cozy with a good book and worked on our tans. It was the perfect way to kick back and take in the beauty of the islands. No matter where you sail with Crystal Esprit, you’re just a Zodiac ride away from breathtaking beaches, sunshine and the rhythmic sound of waves lapping at the shoreline.
And some days, lying on the beach without a care in the world is all the adventure you need.
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