From motorcycle-themed voyages to sailing on container ships, the best cruise line packages this season.
There is nothing we like better than a good deal. More and more Indian travellers are now ditching their ‘land-based’ holidays—where they have to pay for visits, accommodation and food separately—to sign up for cruise packages that offer the best of all these essentials at a fraction of the cost. With Mumbai’s Port Trust facilitating an International Cruise Terminal, they don’t even need to fly out to join the cruises; they can hop on from Mumbai, the New Mangalore port or even Kochi. “We are observing a steady growth in demand for cruise holidays—about 15-20 per cent per annum. Though families and honeymooners form a large chunk, senior citizens and young solo travellers are also a strong clientele,” says Karan Anand, head of relationships at Cox & Kings, adding that his organisation is combining land and cruises packages for a more wholesome experience. With sailing season beginning this month, here are a few quirky packages that could inspire you to hop on board.
Do the blue
Costa neoClassica is making its maiden voyage from Mumbai to the Maldives in December. A luxury liner that can accommodate up to 1,700 passengers, it comprises a casino, discotheque, ballrooms and swimming pools. The ship also makes stops at Kochi, Mangalore and Goa. `43,000 onwards. Details: costacruise.com
Fancy a rock climbing escapade on the sea? Royal Caribbean Cruise’s Port Canaveral Roundtrip doesn’t just take you to the Bahamas, but also lets you try your hands at some vertical adventure with its specially-designed sea-facing walls, made to resemble a cliff. If you feel tired after the ascent, relax with a drink fixed by your personal mixologist at the retro-inspired bar and gamble at the 6,843 square-foot Vegas-style Casino Royale, with 190 slots. From `1.10 lakh onwards. Details: coxandkings.com
This one is for bikers, who don’t wish to let go of their rides, even while at sea. The only one of its kind in the world, the High Seas Rally is a complete motorcycle-themed cruise holiday. The seven-day Florida to Mexico (and back) cruise will let you take your motorcycle along, find you accommodation in bike-themed bunks and even organises rallies at every port of call. Special Halloween-themed biker parties, and 50s, 60s and 70s hippie nights are some of the added attractions. From `1.82 lakh onwards. Sailing in 2017. Details: highseasrally.co
Keep it contained
Not long ago, sailors hopped on freighters and worked their way to their destination, instead of paying fares. Reminiscent of this, select container ships are now accommodating passengers (up to 10). You can forgo work, of course, and for around `8,200 a day, you can join the CGM Bellini on a three-month voyage from Fos Sur Mer port, France, through Australia, Singapore and back. Enjoy the solitude of the seas while housed in luxurious captain-class cabins. Sails triennially. Details: freightercruises.com
Movie and TV buffs can opt for any of the themed cruises from the Norwegian Pearl. The Walking Dead cruise is for fans of the apocalypse horror-drama. With members of the cast, like Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs and Michael Cudlitz, on board, the cruise will facilitate private interactions with them, besides a visit to the Pearl’s private island, the Great Stirrup Cay. For Star Trek fans, the cruise includes Holo Nights—where passengers can celebrate their favorite Holodeck characters—a Starfleet intergalactic gala and Star Trek chess tournaments. Sailing in February 2017. `86,500 onwards. Details: ncl.com/in
Virtually does it
Have seasickness, but love to go on a cruise? Tirun has introduced a virtual reality app, Tirun VR, which will allow users to virtually walk through a Royal Caribbean luxury liner with the help of a VR headset. The app is also useful for travellers who are booking packages for the first time. Free download. Details: tirun.com
Royal Caribbean has just revealed its 2016-17 adventure line of cruises, serving six regions—the Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada, Europe, Alaska and Australia. As an introductory offer, the cruise line has also extended a buy-one-get-one offer, where bookings for the second passenger will get a 50 per cent discount. Five-night Caribbean cruise from `20,500 onwards. Sailing in December. Details: royalcaribbean.com/cruise-deals
— P Peter