Africa isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of epic cruises — but it should be. Lush islands in the Indian Ocean, unforgettable safari excursions in Kenya and rich Moroccan culture await. African itineraries can be perfect for nature enthusiasts and city lovers due to the diversity of its ports.

Whatever remarkable new journey is in store, Africa is your place to go after it. Read on to see some of the most exotic cruise ports the area has to offer.

Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

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In the Indian Ocean, just off the eastern coast of Africa, is an island country that is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Its unique ecosystem of beaches, rainforests and wildlife — most notably, lemurs — have even inspired movies about the area.

Travelers can experience firsthand the wonder of Madagascar by visiting Fort Dauphin on the island’s southeastern coast. Check out Viking Cruises’ extended cruise from Sydney, Australia, to Durban, South Africa. During your shore excursion, visit the Nahampoana Reserve to see the famed lemurs, or go on a guided tour of Saiadi Botanical Gardens for the opportunity to encounter plants and animals you’ve never seen before — 90% of its wildlife cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Tangier, Morocco

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Tangier, like the rest of Morocco, has been influenced by diverse cultures throughout its history due to its key location on the Strait of Gibraltar. Travelers will notice the mix of French, Spanish and North African culture while wandering the mysterious stone corridors framed by picturesque white walls.

Cruisers have choices for excursions in this city, including a trip to the colorful markets, called souks, at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tétouan. Experience the wonder of a guided visit to the Cave of Hercules to learn about the ancient Greek mythology surrounding the region. Holland America Line offers a 15-day cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that stops in Tangier along the way.

One day in this city and you’ll see why the hit drama Casablanca was surprisingly inspired by Tangier.

Mombasa, Kenya

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Tucked away on the eastern coast of Africa along the Indian Ocean is a lush paradise. Here, the African culture meets the coast in the best way possible, creating unforgettable beach resorts. Crystal Cruises offers a Mombasa, Kenya, to Cape Town, South Africa, itinerary where travelers can enjoy the best of southern Africa.

Less than two hours from downtown Mombasa, animal lovers and outdoor adventurers can visit Shimba Hills National Reserve, a coastal rainforest with stunning waterfalls, and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary — both are must-see sites. If time is limited, spend it relaxing on the white sand beaches of Mombasa Island, a small coral outcrop easily reachable from downtown by the causeway.

The Seychelles Islands

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Made up of 115 stunning islands, Seychelles welcomes cruisers to its ports for an unforgettable escape. This East African country is located in the Indian Ocean and is a popular port of call for major cruise lines traveling the area. Ponant, a French luxury cruise operator, offers a cruise dedicated entirely to Seychelles, where guests can see the most popular ports, like Mahé, and the secluded islands.

Snorkel through the coral reefs of Sainte Anne Marine National Park — you might even get the chance to swim with wild hawksbill turtles or bottlenose dolphins. Relax on one of Mahé’s 70 white sand beaches, hike through one of the many nature reserves or try a sea coconut. Get ready for a once in a lifetime getaway in Seychelles.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

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Zanzibar embodies just what an Indian Ocean vacation should be — an effortless, romantic, scenic getaway. This archipelago in East Africa, just off the coast of Tanzania, is the perfect destination for cruising, snorkeling, animal watching and, of course, relaxing.

Stroll through the streets of Stone Town to discover more about the rich culture of the region. This area is historically known for its abundance of spices, like black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon, so be sure to try the local food while you’re in town — your taste buds will thank you. Travelers can even visit local spice farms to get a more in-depth look at the industry.

Princess Cruises has an itinerary through the Indian Ocean that stops in Zanzibar, but be sure to book this one early — it’s already sold out in 2020.