The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering around 20% of the Earth's water surface. It is bounded on the north by Asia, including the Indian subcontinent (after which it is named); on the west by Africa; on the east by Indochina; and on the south by the Southern Ocean. The size of the region and the vast distances implies that cruises of the Indian Ocean are available in a range of itineraries, offering travelers the option of a trip as short as a week or longer than a month.
Many cruises in the region are passing through on repositioning or world cruises. Several cruises can be joined at an Egyptian or Mediterranean port and sail through the Red Sea along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, calling at Shalalah or Muscat in Oman, or modern Dubai in the Persian Gulf; then down the west coast of India, to bustling Mumbai. From Mumbai cruises continue south to the canals and lagoons of Cochin, the beaches of Goa and on to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
Some cruises continue round the coast of India to Chennai, formerly known as Madras, a major center for music, art and culture in India. Others sail southeast across the Indian Ocean to the west coast of Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore and may call at the Andaman Islands on the way, famous for its marine life.
In the Southern Indian Ocean a few cruises will sail from India to the Maldives, an archipelago of some 1,200 coral islands, known for its platinum white sands, azure waters and swaying palms. The Maldives is a diver's paradise with its astounding coral reefs and exceptional marine life, The Maldives offers some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Most cruises will then sail back again.
Some cruises on their way to South Africa will call at the Seychelles and perhaps Mauritius or Reunion on route, although most cruises to these destinations depart from and return to East African ports like Mombasa.