Carnival on the high seas

Chill out far away from the madding crowds

Carnival on the high seas

Luxury liner MV Aquarmarine which seeks to make cruising on the high seas affordable to the domestic tourists.Tired of flying or hitting the road for a holiday? Try cruising instead, in the placid waters of the Arabian Sea or deep in the Indian Ocean on board a luxury liner. M V Aquamarine, the luxury liner which began sailing to Colombo and Maldives from Kochi early this month, may have cracked the myth that cruising is the exclusive preserve of the rich and famous.

What seems to have made the ship, a floating luxury hotel, a smash hit among domestic tourists is its introductory offer of a 17-hour day-night cruise in the “open seas” beyond the borders. The offer enables a person to take his family comprising a wife and two children aged under 15 years on a high seas trip for just about Rs 10,000, accommodation and meals included.

 The M V Aquamarine, one among the 12 cruise ships belonging to the Louis Cruises group, virtually takes a break from its Colombo and Maldives itineraries on Saturday night by hitting the high seas.  December - January months are the best to go cruising what with the monsoon almost on withdrawal mode and the spirit of Christmas - New Year in the air.

Ship’s ambience

Since the sailing on the high seas  starts by 8 pm, what would be visible an hour into the cruise is  nothing more than wilderness. The closed confines of the fully airconditioned interior also hardly betrays any sign of a ship cruising at 17 knots. Apparently, what is on sale is the ship’s ambience which often makes one forget that he or she is in the deep ocean, perhaps even straddling the waters of the Indian Ocean.

The exotic feeling starts right from the staff on board 90 per cent of whom are European, and spreads to the food and entertainment including the casino. Exploring the ship does consume time and patience thanks to some staff members who have no knowledge of English. A stroll from one end of the ship to the other covers a distance of over 190 metres and one could easily lose his or her way while going to the restaurants or bar thanks to identical looking lobbies. The first luxury liner to have a homeport in India, Aquamarine has a carrying capacity of 1,250 passengers including staff who are accommodated in 525 cabins of various hues.
 
Cricket on high seas !

The cruise ship is a complete destination into itself with restaurants, entertainment lounge, bars and disco, pub, children’s club, casino, beauty salon, fitness centre, basketball/volley ball courts and even a cricket pitch. Swimming pool, massage parlour, internet corner, telephone, doctor on board, duty free and travel value shop are also available. The restaurant serves a mix of international and Indian cuisine, a variety of breads, beverages and dessert.

The activities in the ship include competition for youth and children, dance classes and even live performances by European troupes which can even get ‘revealing’ as the night wears on.

Since the fares cover dinner, a late night snack, breakfast and lunch, passengers can sail without spending an extra pie on board. However, those who venture to order something extra will have to pay through their nose, like a pitcher of draught beer which will cost you Rs 250. Passengers are not allowed to take alcohol into the vessel. All said and done, if you have a yen for romance and are not short of funds, a cruise is as perfect as it can get to unwind over the weekend.

Jojo John Paramby, the ship’s general manager operations, says that they are expecting close to 60,000 travellers  during the five months' operations from Kochi ending in April next year. Both the Maldives and Colombo itineraries involve three nights and four days with fares upwards of Rs 3,500 per person per night excluding taxes.“We do have a plan to operate long haul voyages perhaps to the Middle East next year. But that would depend on how this season turns out to be. We are also circumspect on whether Indian tourists are ready for long journeys,’’ he said. What holds some promise for  Louis Cruises is the fact that cruising is one vacation activity which has been maintaining its growth curve despite the crippling effect of the recession on tourism. More information available at www.louiscruises.com and www.gitctour.com

 

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