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Maldives Cruise – First Timer’s Guide

  • Enjoy a holiday of a lifetime in the Maldives – one of the world’s most sought-after destinations with more than 1,000 magical islands
  • Combine luxury and adventure on an unforgettable cruise exploring the best of the Maldives
  • Discover idyllic islands, stunning sandbanks and underwater marvels – from rays to whale sharks – on a Maldives cruise

With stunning white-sand beaches, luxury resorts and an amazing underwater world, the Maldives has long been a tropical playground for the rich and famous. So it’s no surprise then should you hear someone say they’ve booked a trip to the Maldives, your first thought may be that they’ve won the lottery. However, holidays to the Maldives can be more affordable than you think, and despite their remote location in the Indian Ocean, these enchanting islands are remarkably accessible too. One of the best ways to explore all this unique island nation has to offer is on a Maldives cruise.

Maldives crise maldives island

Maldives cruise: general travelling advice

It’s an 11-hour flight from the UK to Colombo in Sri Lanka, where another short plane journey takes you to the Maldives. And looking out of the window as you land in the Malé atoll, you’ll be blown away by the islands’ beauty. The Maldives is one of the world’s lowest countries, and the numerous islands that make up this nation – around 1,200 – are the crowns of coral reefs and submerged volcanic mountains. Only 200 Maldives islands are inhabited, so there are many idyllic deserted shores to discover – easy to do on a Maldives cruise.

UK passport holders get a free 30-day visa on arrival. However, you must prove you have a return ticket and enough money to fund your stay. Maldivian rufiyaa is the local currency. There are no cash machines, though resorts and hotels accept major credit cards.

Also note that the Maldives is an Islamic country so respect local customs, laws and religions. When at the airport and visiting inhabited islands, knees and shoulders must be covered. Resorts are the only places that serve alcohol – you can’t drink duty-free purchases.

As for the best time to visit the Maldives island, year-round temperatures rarely dip below 25°C. For bright sunny days, arrive in January or February. You’ll avoid the rainy monsoon season if you travel between November and April.

maldives cruise island resort

Six great things to do on a cruise in the Maldives

Snorkel around the coral reefs

Snorkelling while on a Maldives cruise is a must, and there are plenty of excellent opportunities to swim in warm waters and take a peek at what lies under the ocean surface. You’re in for a thrill, as the Maldives is home to a wealth of incredible sea life. Stripy clownfish, yellow butterflyfish and shoals of fusiliers all gather around magnificent coral reefs. The Vaava Felidhu natural atoll is where you’ll find one of the best islands in the Maldives for snorkelling. Other top spots include Oshagali Finolhu and Embudu.

Before your Maldives cruise, tell your travel company your shoe size. Your ship will have snorkelling fins waiting for you. Not a confident swimmer? Don’t worry; buoyancy aids are available.

maldives cruise underwater scene

Go on a Maldives whale shark tour

Ariadhoo, a lush uninhabited island, is in a region of the Maldives that boasts exceptional sightings of whale sharks. Resident in the water all-year-round, a whale shark can grow to 12 metres long, weigh 18 metric tonnes and live in the wild for 70 years. With a professional guide, you can go on a tour in search of these gentle giants – keep a respectful (and safe) distance, and don’t be tempted to touch them.

Another option is to embark on a thrilling night snorkelling trip around the Alimatha house reef. You’ll have the chance to see nocturnal marine creatures not visible during the day, as well as stingrays and slow-moving, toothy nurse sharks.

Try your hand at reef fishing

Maldivians are true fishermen at heart and traditional fishing in the open ocean under the night stars is an unforgettable experience. While you’ll see freshly-caught fish on many menus, the eco-friendly ‘catch-and-release’ practice is encouraged when it comes to reef fishing. Local fishermen use authentic hand lines for reef fishing. The eight-acre resort island of Rannalhi is one place you can fish alongside a local guide. If luck is on your side, expect to catch a small grouper, snapper or barracuda.

Alternatively, stay on board your Maldives cruise ship and watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. It’s a moment you’ll always remember, especially when the sky turns a magical orange shade as you sail towards the Maaya sandbank.

maldives cruise maayafushi resort ari atoll

Maayafushi Resort, Ari Atoll

Enjoy a beach barbecue

Think of a barbecue in the UK, and images of a disgruntled chef trying to cook burgers between rain showers may spring to mind. However, on a Maldives beach, night barbecues are all about enjoying delicious food on a balmy evening, dancing under a starlit sky while listening to traditional Maldivian boduberu music. Meaning ‘big drums’, songs start with a slow beat which then becomes faster and more energetic – bopping along is great fun.

Traditional Maldivian cuisine, influenced by nearby Sri Lanka and India, is full of flavour. As you’d expect, fish such as tuna and mahi-mahi feature prominently, and the milk and flesh from coconuts – the country’s national tree – are used in creamy drinks and curries.

Take a tour of Malé

Malé is one of the world’s smallest capital cities, and you can easily stroll around its streets in a few hours. However, don’t think it shares a similar laidback vibe as the other destinations on your Maldives cruise. Far from it, Malé is a bustling and densely populated city – note that the weekend runs over Friday and Saturday, so shops and businesses may close.

On a city tour, the Islamic Centre with its golden dome is a highlight. Arabic calligraphy and intricate wood carvings adorn the mosque’s interior. Visitors are welcome during the day outside of prayer times (which happen five times), but make sure you wear long trousers or a long skirt.

maldives cruise male maldives capital city island


Soak up the sunshine on a sandbank

When it comes to finding a deserted Maldives beach, a blissful spot where you can relax and enjoy the sun, you’re spoilt for choice. Sandbanks that could easily feature on the covers of travel magazines are everywhere to be discovered. Soft white sand and astonishingly clear water can be found at the tiny island of Anbaraa. And on deserted Embudu, there’s refreshingly little to do except watch eagle rays, perhaps turtles, and pinch yourself – wow, you’re in the middle of the stunning Indian Ocean!

If you do kick off your flip-flops for a swim, the sea temperature may be 28°C – there’ll be no dread at the water’s edge wondering if you’ll freeze. Simply stroll on in.

maldives cruise beach herathera island

Herathera Island

Plan your Maldives cruise adventure

If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate a special occasion, a holiday to the Maldives or a Sri Lanka and Maldives tour may be just the ticket. The tropical islands, with their blue lagoons and coral reefs, may be out of this world, but they are much within reach for travellers.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.