Indian Ocean cruises can offer holidaymakers the opportunity to visit exotic cities full of bold colours, exciting sounds and fragrant smells as well as the chance to explore the secluded coves of remote and mysterious tropical islands.
Cruises on India's west coast take in ports in Goa, Mangalore, Cochin, Trivandrum and the Lakshadweep Islands as well as Colombo in Sri Lanka.
Since the 1960s and the hippy invasion, Goa has been associated with a laid-back style of life, which holidaymakers will be able to discover as they relax on its beaches and stroll around its beautiful whitewashed churches. For the culture-seeking traveller, a trip to Goa's Bom Jesus Basilica – home to the remains of St Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa – is a must.
In Mangalore – a port city with a long history of international trade - discover palm-fringed beaches and old-world tiled-roof buildings. Mangalore's connection to international trade can be seen in its colourful markets which sell a wide variety of spices, nuts and other provisions.
Cochin and Columbo are also good locations to practice bartering skills at bustling markets, where holidaymakers can pick up exotic spices and silks, before visiting the many ornate sights and buildings that are scattered throughout the cities.
Colombo is steeped in culture and heritage with influences from the Dutch, British and Portuguese eras showing through in architecture. Colombo is also home to the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage.
For cruisers who simply want paradise at their feet, Lakshadweep Islands are likely to be the highlight of an Indian cruise.
Snorkeling in the clear waters, exploring the white idyllic beaches and relaxing with a coconut cocktail are all perfect activities on the Lakshadweep Islands.