The cruise packages that are offered for travel in India are varied and eclectic. Most importantly, they come in small sizes. Even if you are a couple, you can hire a houseboat with a crew for your exclusive and private use. Cruises in India are one of the very good ways to meander along the various water bodies and observe the landscape at easy leisure.
In today's stressful world, a holiday cruising with family and friends makes eminent sense. It takes away the hassle of planning the itinerary in detail. It also gives an undisturbed quality time space to all the members in the cruising party to refresh and strengthen their relationships.
But most importantly, it will make you travel at a gentler pace. After the hurried pace of the city jobs that primarily focuses on never ending target attainments, the slow pace of a cruise is much savoured. A cruise can help you unwind in ways unimagined. It shall also help you to discover the peaceful zones within your own being. Very therapeutic.
India has several rivers, a very long coastline (India is a peninsular country), many islands and large lakes. With such assets, it is no wonder that this has helped create a unique cruising experience in the various parts of Indian sub-continent.
We talk over a few of these exciting cruising destinations in India.
Kerala is a popular destination and very well advertised for its cruises on luxurious houseboats. The backwaters of Alleppey are today well known. Cruise trips here are focused around the wide expanse (90 Km) of the lake Vembanad. These cruises traverse the area between the port towns of Alleppey and Quilon on one side, and to Calicut in the North on the other side.
These houseboats use solar energy, run on vegetable oil and their roofs are covered with thatch. All of this is necessary to preserve the fragile ecosystem of these backwaters. A romantic candlelight dinner on the deck of the boat, as it glides past by the swaying palm trees, is considered to be the highlight of this cruise. While you are in Kerala, make it a point to experience the Ayurvedic health massage. These little experiences can provide a glimpse into why Kerala is dubbed as “God's own country”.
Goa is the most happening city for cruises. Here the boats are larger, have casinos inside them, DJ music and dance floors. Nights come alive here. All action is on the River Mandovi. Evening cruises arranged by the tourism Department of Goa have colourful cultural performances such as the Dekni temple dance, the Fugdi dance and the Corredinho dance.
Whereas during the day cruise, you can spend time watching and counting the Dolphins and the crocodiles. The daily sunset cruise starts at 6 PM, takes you to Aguda Fort, the Reis Magos Fort and the Cabo Raj Bhavan. Full Moon cruises are much sought after.
The famous Gateway of India is the point from where the cruise and ferry rides start. A popular destination is the Elephanta caves. Elephanta caves are situated on an island and are ideal for a day trip. The Mumbai tourism Department has frequent ferry services between Mumbai and Elephanta caves.
Then there is the trip around the Mumbai coast. Here you have the sunrise and sunset option available. If you wish to party, then private yachts are available for you to throw an on-board party. A great way to usher in the New Year this can be. Shuttle service is another option to travel on the sea to reach Alibaug or Uran.
Andaman and Nicobar islands were infamously referred to as Kala Pani during the British Raj. Indian freedom fighters were dispatched to these islands and kept captive in the historic cellular jail. Folklore is that hardly anyone ever came back from this destination. Today they are a destination for lovely holidays.
These are a group of islands very well connected by air. Port Blair is the capital and is connected by air to Chennai and Kolkata. Port Blair also has regular passenger ship services from Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata. But the cruise that you need to take is from Port Blair to Ross Island of Havelock islands.
It is the natural beauty of Lakshwadeep, which is to be enjoyed as you cruise around the coral reefs, roll on the sandy beaches and watched the exquisite marine life in the clear unpolluted waters around these islands. Today, Lakshwadeep has become a kind of exclusive destination for sport nature tourism activities. A five-day cruise called "Lakshwadeep Samundram" shall take you to the islands of Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Minicoy on the ship, MV Kavaratti.
The day is spent in exploring the terra firma with lunch and refreshments arranged onshore. Activities like snorkelling, swimming and many other water sports are arranged during these day trips. Windsurfing is also a part of the experience. You retire to the ship for the night.
If there is a paradise on the planet Earth, it is here, so had the Mughal Emperor Jehangir remarked quoting the poet Jami. The setting of Dal Lake is impeccable, surrounded by the lofty Himalayan Mountains. The Dal Lake is unique as many Kashmiri families live on the lake in the houseboats tethered to the shore. These are elaborately furnished floating homes built in wood. You can stay in one of these houseboats, but it is the Shikaras that you shall take a ride on.
Many songs in the Bollywood movies have been filmed using the Shikaras with the view of the Zabarwan hills. The splash sound of the paddle as your Shikara glides on the cold water of the Dal Lake is an experience of a lifetime. Should you stay at one of the houseboats on the Dal Lake, then do not miss the early morning flower and vegetable market that happens for a few hours on the Shikaras.
Boat rides are available from various towns on the Ganges. Ganges is about 2500 km long. A popular cruise is between the two famous holy towns of Allahabad and Varanasi. If you're lucky, you shall spot the freshwater dolphins.
Another river journey is the Brahmaputra River Cruise. This is one of the most thrilling river journeys, you shall ever take.
The highlight of this cruise is that you have an opportunity to possibly spot the Royal Bengal Tiger. As your boat meanders through the Delta, an astonishing range of flora and fauna is available for you to observe and delight in.