Cruise Review: Enjoy the best of India on a premium cruise from Mumbai to Goa
Travel writer Bindu Gopal Rao joins Jalesh Cruises first premium ship to sail on Indian waters and discovers a wonderful way to experience the cruise life and the very best of Indian hospitality.
As I make my way from Mumbai airport to the Port Trust I cannot help but admire the many heritage buildings I sport on the way. As I alight at the port, there are many more buildings that are historic and architectural marvels and the Port Trust itself has been established in 1873. After a quick check-in process a bus takes us to the cruise liner that is ready to sail on its maiden voyage from Mumbai to Goa.
Jalesh Cruises that means ‘Lord of Water’ is designed to offer vibrant Indian culture, hospitality and food experiences and the ship Karnika has been refurbished recently. According to Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Jalesh Cruises: “Our premiere brand Jalesh Cruises believes in upholding the spirit, culture and values of ‘Incredible India’ by contributing to the growth of tourism and allied businesses in India. This is a cruise ship designed to explore 7600 km of coastline in India. I can guarantee that this ship has the finest and most friendly crew and we offer the best service with the best culinary experience.”
The company has partnered with industry experts to offer varied services including Flamingo for its shopping experiences and Deltin to provide casino operations. The ship is completely Indian at heart and intends to give back to the local community by hiring locally. The ship is also eco-friendly and through its ‘Clean Waves’ program aims to be plastic free over the next 18 months.
The home port is in Mumbai and during the rainy season the ship will sail to Dubai. The 70,285 ton ship will undertake 15 sailings for Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai and Mumbai-High Seas-Mumbai between April and mid-May 2019. The first international sailing from Mumbai to Dubai will be in May 2019 where it will port until mid-September 2019 before returning to Mumbai.
The well-appointed ship has 14 decks and accommodation includes 36 mini suites with cabin sizes of 336 sq. ft and sleeps upto 3 people, 126 Balcony rooms with cabins of sq. ft, that sleeps upto 2 people, 430 ocean view rooms with cabins of 190 sq. ft and 209 interior rooms with cabins of 190 sq. ft. that sleeps upto 4 people each. There are over 600 crew members on board to take care of guests.
On board the ship are a plethora of food options that includes three fine dining restaurants. Waterfront serves Indian cuisine that includes a signature Indian thaali and a-la-carte menu for lunch. The comprehensive menu includes a host of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options with a selection of alcoholic, non-alcoholic drinks and wines that can be purchased with your meal.
The Chef’s Table is a private area for formal dining that also serves Chef special traditional food in a private room within the Waterfront restaurant. Chopstix is the restaurant that serves Thai, Malay, Korean, Mongolian, Taiwanese and Japanese cuisines and is the best place to take your taste buds on a culinary tour of the East and is open for dinner.
This apart the ship has an extensive nine buffet and food station that has a variety of delicacies ranging from street food, barbeque, international grill to patisserie and frozen desserts. The ship also has dedicated counter that serves food for Jain passengers. Also there are nine bars on board that have a gamut of international premium spirits as well.
Once you are on board Karnika, there are a variety of options to keep you entertained. In fact there is a sheet of paper with the entire schedule that is placed in your room each day so you can plan how you want to spend your time. The choice includes Broadway shows, extravaganza plays, breath-taking magic shows, live music concerts, dance shows, shopping and a host of other entertaining shows. The best part is that this is a ship for the entire family and there are enough options for children as well across varying age groups.
The ship offers features that make it accessible for senior citizens and differently abled passengers. If you like retail therapy, the ship has free products from a host of prominent international brands. If you would rather relax head to Serena spa on Deck 14 that offers a host of aromatic and natural therapies for relaxation and rejuvenation. Health watchers can enjoy the state of the art gym facilities on board too. This apart there is a large swimming pool as well as kids pool and Jacuzzi’s on board. And when the ship docks you can also take shore excursions to Mormugoa at Goa.
In the course of time the ship hopes to sail across Indian port cities including Chennai, Kochi, , Mumbai, Vizag and international locations including Abu Dhabi, Colombo, Dubai, Muscat, Penang, Ras Al Khaimah and Singapore. Karnika is also equipped with state-of-the-art venue, modern technology and 24×7 Wi-Fi access which makes it ideal for corporate parties, off-sites and family celebrations.
“Our next goal is to visit Europe and also Alaska but in the Indian way and we believe this will be popular everywhere. Wherever we sail we will keep the Indian spirit at heart. We want to work with government tourism boards and port authority to grow the cruise business. We are also planning on river cruises in the near future,” says Bailom. If you are looking for a new way to see India, hop on to Karnika, it is a unique experience that will give you wonderful memories to last a lifetime.
Address: Zen Cruises Pvt. Ltd, GSA for Jalesh Cruises, 18th floor, A wing Marathon Futurex, N M Joshi Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013.
Phone: 1800 266 8927
Photography courtesy of Jalesh Cruises