Cruise newcomers Indian Ocean Cruises will be offering a tempting range of options for India, Goa and Sri Lanka from October 2006.

The line has converted the former Jason of Royal Olympia Cruise Line and converted her into the 200-passenger Ocean Odyssey based in Mormugao in Goa, featuring 2-week cruises around this fascinating part of the world.

The vessel will be christened by Sonia Gandhi on October 7 and visit such remote and idyllic areas as the Malabar Coast and Lakshadweep Islands, which are virtually unknown regions of the Indian Ocean.

The cruise line also intends to provide an authentic experience of its specialist region, preparing local dishes and organising intimate excursions. Life onboard will be refined and slow-paced, reflecting the culture of these areas, with a largely Indian crew.

Originally built in 1965 in Italy, Ocean Odyssey has been fully refurbished and features good open deck space, a small pool, Jacuzzis, open-air bar and dining area, sports bar, show-lounge and main dining room, plus a small library, shop, casino, gym and hair salon.

Visiting the uninhabited Lakshadweep isles, the company has exclusive rights to visit three of the islands for beach barbecues, water-sports and sight-seeing, using a fleet of Zodiacs to ferry everything ashore. Other calls will include Mangalore, Kochi, Trivandrum, Tuticorin and an overnight stay in Colombo, as well as days at sea.

Indian Ocean Cruises also have big plans for their fledgling operation, with the intention for a purpose-built cruise terminal in Goa and a fleet of five ships.

For more info, call 0800 032 7020 or look up www.indianoceancruises.net