The initiative comes from the KTDC and the KSINC

Visitors to the Fort Kochi and Mattancherry heritage tourism zones can now check them out by embarking on a sight-seeing cruise from the city.

The initiative comes from the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) and the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC). The cruise begins and ends at the Ernakulam Boat Jetty. In Mattancherry, guests will be taken to the Jewish synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth countries, and the Dutch Palace, which has a portrait gallery of the erstwhile kings of Kochi, and also some of the best mythological murals in India.

Once the boat calls at Fort Kochi, they will be taken to the St. Francis Church that was built in 1503, the first church to be built in India by Europeans. Vasco da Gama was buried here and a few years later his mortal remains were taken to Portugal. The Chinese fishing nets is another attraction. The cruise fare is Rs. 200 per person.

First cruise

The first cruise was flagged off from the Ernakulam Boat Jetty on Saturday by KSINC’s managing director Tom Jose. A KTDC official said that the KSINC’s double-deck boat Lake Palace will have regular daily trips to the locales, between 9.30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and between 2.30 p.m. and 6 p.m. “The agency has agreed to spare another vessel - Lake Queen, which would begin service during the tourist season that begins later this year. Here, guests would be taken in a boat on a tour of Cheranalloor and other picturesque locales located off the city.”

The initiative is being seen as an apt example of how the two government agencies are utilising each other’s expertise for common benefit. The KTDC’s strength is its marketing network, while the KSINC has the expertise in operating boats and maintaining them. The KTDC’s regular sight-seeing cruises in the city were popular for around 30 years, till a boat that it operated was withdrawn from service over two years ago.

Sagara Rani

Further enhancing the ties for mutual benefit, the KTDC has agreed to market the popular sunset cruise and exclusive bookings of KSINC’s flagship vessels - Sagara Rani I and II. The cruises are a big hit, since they are the only vessels that can venture into the sea off Fort Kochi. The KSINC also offers exclusive dinner packages, where singers render gazal songs. Exclusive package trips operate all through the day. Henceforth, people will be able to book the tours from any KTDC office.

The others who were present at the flag-off function were the KTDC’s regional manager Manoj Kumar P.N., its central reservations manager I.G. Chandra Babu, manager of the Kochi reservation centre Manoj Kumar K. and the KSINC’s commercial officer Abdul Gafoor.

For details of the tours, call the KTDC’s reception centre at 2353234 or e-mail trckochi@ktdc.com.

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