If you are looking for a laid back vacation experience to relax, rewind, and reflect while witnessing nature’s glory, a cruise can make for a perfect getaway.
Far from the hustle and bustle of the land, one could spend a quality time sailing through the river or sea.
Here are some of the best cruise trips you can take across the country:
1. Kerala Backwater Cruise
When it comes to river cruising experiences, Kerala tops the list with its long stretches of serene backwaters and its famous houseboats.
The backwaters of Alleppey, also known as the ‘Venice of the East’, are a perfect destination for all those craving for a calm and peaceful break. The houseboats here are modified Kettuvallams, which were used to carry rice and spices during the olden times. These thatched roof boats are made of wooden planks joined together with coir and then coated with a caustic black resin made from boiled cashew kernels.
These slow moving boats offer all the comforts of a hotel, including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cosy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony. On board, one can enjoy delicious Kerala cuisine, alongside the beautiful scenery of the green landscapes, dazzling paddy fields and village life on the banks of the waterways.
Location: Alappuzha, Kerala
Price: Rs 7,000 onwards (day & night – 12pm to 9am)
2. Chilika Lake Cruise
Chilika Lake, spread across Puri, Khurda, and Ganjam districts of Odisha, is the largest brackish water lake in the country. Also home to numerous migratory birds and vivid flora and fauna, the lake has several islands and is famed for being a destination for watching dolphins.
A cruise through the lake will let you spot interesting wildlife while wading through the calm waters.
The Odisha government has launched a luxury houseboat Garuda, which is a two-floor house boat equipped with two suite rooms, four premium rooms, a bar, and a restaurant. It can accommodate 25 people, and takes tourists through different parts of the lake, including the Bhitarkanika National Park and adjoining areas of Gahirmatha Wildlife Sanctuary.
Location: Puri, Odisha
Price: Rs 18,000 for premium room & Rs 25,000 for a suite room (Food included)
3. Sundarbans River Cruise
The largest mangrove ecosystem in the world, the UNESCO world heritage site is located in the delta formed by the confluence of three rivers — Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna in the Bay of Bengal.
Spread over an area adjacent to India and Bangladesh, the site is a network of tidal waterways, mudflats, and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests.
Take in the rich flora and fauna of the region as you cruise through the winding waters along thick mangrove forests, relish the local cuisine, or simply get a glimpse of the local life in the Sunderbans.
Both short and long cruises, as well as budget and luxury packages are available. The boats are well equipped with safety measures and all modern amenities.
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
Price: Rs 3,000 onwards
4. Brahmaputra River Cruise
One of the longest rivers in the country, the mighty Brahmaputra offers one of the best cruising experiences.
Sail through the magnificent river and you’ll catch glimpses of the countryside, neoclassical colonial palaces, Hindu temples, Buddhist archaeology, and Islamic architecture.
Different types of cruises are available based on the price range. There are small tour packages that take one along Guwahati, as well as luxury packages that take one to Kaziranga and beyond.
There are cruises that offer scrumptious food and activities such as village walks, tea garden visits, craft workshops, and so on.
Location: Guwahati, Assam
Price: Rs 500/person (Sunset cruise), Rs 1,500/person (Dinner cruise)
5. Dibru Saikhowa River Cruise
Located in the state of Assam, the Dibru Saikhowa National Park was formed to help conserve the habitat of the rare white-winged wood duck.
Situated on the south bank of Brahmaputra, the national park and biosphere reserve is noted for its vibrant wilderness and pristine scenic beauty.
A cruise along the area would make a perfect hangout for exploring the wide variety of wildlife such as bright coloured wild horses, slow loris, capped langur, hoolock gibbon and so on.
Other than that, one gets to see the endangered Gangetic river dolphin, which is usually not easy to spot, as well as numerous migratory birds.
Location: Dibru Saikhowa
Price: Rs 2,000 onwards
6. Ganges Heritage River Cruise
Wade through the holy waters of river Ganga to explore the cultural and historical heritage of the country.
The Ganges cruise between Kolkata and Farakka could be the best way to explore Kolkata. It offers a beautiful view of the tiny villages, towns, markets, monuments and temples that dot the banks of the river.
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
Price: 1,200 onwards
7. Andaman Islands Cruise
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations for cruises or cruise vacations, Andaman and Nicobar islands are a paradise for divers and beach lovers. These cruises are noted for offering a wide variety of activities for their guests.
The dinner cruises at the islands let one experience a beautiful night filled with good music and great food, making it a perfect choice for couples.
Go for a boat with glass bottoms to watch the regal and colourful corals beneath your feet. The boats also take tourists to islands like Jolly Buoy, which is open only for six months from June to September; Neil Island, known for its greenery; and white sand beaches.
There are several companies that provide cruises in long and short packages in different price ranges.
Location: Andaman islands
Price: Rs 600/person onwards (Glass bottom cruise)
8. Goa Cruise
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, Goa has a lot to offer when it comes to river or sea cruises.
There are numerous options ranging from budget cruise tours to luxurious vacation packages, and each promises a unique experience for tourists — from simple evening tours to elaborate dinner cruises, casino cruises, and backwater cruises.
While enjoying the trip, tourists can also relish some delicious seafood and drinks on board.
Price: Rs 500 onwards
Odisha: Luxury houseboat for cruise on the Chilika lake, by Subhashish Mohanty; published by Telegraph India on 11 June 2022.
Edited by Divya Sethu