The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 44, Issue 1

Article 2
The Indian Sea Voyage between India and the Caribbean during the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

Lomarsh Roopnarine


The Indian sea voyages, which followed on the heels of the African slave trade, transported roughly 725,000 Indians to and from the Caribbean from 1838 to 1955. However, this essay focuses mainly on the voyages during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Death rates on the sea voyage ranged from 2 to 30 per cent on the ships that crossed the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The outward- bound passengers experienced more deaths and disease than the inward bound ones. Returning ex-indentured Indians from the Caribbean appeared much healthier and happier than arriving indentured Indians from India to the Caribbean. These aspects of the Indian indenture experience have received scant academic attention in the Caribbean. This article analyses the circumstances, organization, diseases, deaths and other aspects of the sea voyage during the period under review.