The sea is as calm as a Hindu cow, the sun is at its highest in the sky and the mosquitoes seem to be on a hiatus from their typical buzzing and biting. It is Christmas Eve on Cousin Island Special Reserve and Nature Seychelles wardens are preparing to receive guests from Crystal Esprit, a luxurious cruise ship on its maiden voyage in the Seychelles.
On 20th December 2015, Crystal Esprit was officially christened at a dazzling ceremony held at Eden Island Marina, which was attended by local dignitaries, travel partners, and executives from the line's new parent company, Genting Hong Kong (GHK).
“To say today is a special day is an understatement,” said Edie Rodriguez, Crystal Yacht Cruises president and CEO, during the christening event. “Since joining Crystal just over two years ago, a personal goal of mine has been to see Crystal realise the next step in continuing to pioneer luxury travel and hospitality; and today I am seeing that dream fulfilled.”
Cousin here we come
After numerous discussions between Nature Seychelles Reserve coordinator, Eric Blais and Creole Travel Services Coordinator and Representative, Maxwell Racombo, it was agreed that Crystal guests would have exclusivity for visiting Cousin Island outside the normal opening hours. Creole was awarded the tender to provide the tour services for Crystal Esprit in the Seychelles.
After their regular tours which run between 10.00am and 12.00pm, Cousin Island wardens take a break, have their lunch and head straight back to the landing shelter to receive Crystal guests.
“We were expecting 19 guests and 5 Creole staff members to disembark for this first visit on Christmas Eve but after seeing the amazing sight that is Cousin island, over 40 guests and 10 staff members came ashore!” says Eric Blais who was there to welcome them. “It was great to see that all the guests were really happy with their visit, and we are looking forward to receiving the next group.”
So many 'kodak' moments to capture
Once on Cousin, guests have the option for a guided tour around the island or to lie on the beach, go for a swim or even snorkel in the pristine waters around the island. Fifteen of the guests opted for the tour led by the Reserve Wardens. Because Cousin is also a Marine Protected area, and it being turtle nesting season it was vital to stress the importance of not disturbing the wildlife both on land and in the water. All the Reserve Wardens were on hand to ensure everything was handled well.
This was however not a one-time visit. Each Monday at 1.30 pm, between the 4th of January up to the 7th of March, Crystal will moor next to Cousin Island, and the Cousin boat will disembark guests for a two hour visit. Crystal’s maiden voyage to the Seychelles was a seven-night cruise around the islands, stopping at Cousin, La Digue, Curieuse, Aride, and Praslin followed by a two-night land program in Dubai, in time for New Year's Eve.
“All the monies we receive from tourists’ visit on Cousin Island are reinvested into conservation work,” says Dr Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles CEO. “In as much as we are pleased that the tourists had a wonderful time on Cousin, it is also important to note that as a non-governmental conservation organisation, working with private enterprises such as Crystal is a great boost to our conservation work in the Seychelles.”