Travel

Full steam ahead: ‘Angriya’ and other cruises to check out

Move over highways. With a growing domestic market, India’s water bodies are fast becoming favourites. Here are some options to consider for your next holiday

The good ship Angriya has lots to offer: a (small) infinity pool, live music in the evenings on the stern deck next to it, a discotheque pumping out beats until 4 am, a 24-hour restaurant, a few snack bars and several actual bars (which, though, close by 11 pm), a small reading room, a spa, and a foredeck on which one can lounge late into the night under the stars.

Going by the selfies-per-person-per-minute rate as a barometer of how much its patrons are enjoying themselves, the Angriya is doing it right. Perhaps the only complaint heard was there was no cellphone signal available for most of the cruise (the ship sails about ten miles off the coast) to let them share those selfies with the world instantly.

But beyond the anecdotal, the numbers have been good too. Captain Nitin Dhond, founder and head of the company that owns the Angriya, says they have been sailing at 80% occupancy, with 100% occupancy going towards Goa.

The Angriya is geared for a certain kind of wholesome fun. Captain Dhond says that the idea is not to offer the kind of experience huge international cruise liners offer — malls and casinos and the like — but to give Indian holiday-makers the opportunity to enjoy something most of them have not experienced and which he, a sailor for over 40 years, loves: the pleasure of being at sea, best experienced on deck rather than in the innards of a ship. India’s holiday capital as a destination is a careful choice. Unlike other ways of getting there, Captain Dhond says, “the party can start on your way to Goa and continue on your way back”. Cruise times have been chosen so that passengers get a few hours of daylight but not the full blast of the sun, which can be extra harsh at sea, with reflection off the water adding to the sunburn potential. The company is now looking for more vessels — of the right size and draft — to stop at ports on the Konkan.

The clientele, from the cruise I took, seems to be mainly families, young couples, and a sprinkling of senior citizens. It must be noted here that the many levels of decks, and the stairways that connect them, make the ship inaccessible to people with motor disabilities or older people. Initially, almost every passenger seemed to be on the foredeck, jostling for optimum selfie locations.

Once the sun set, most wandered off to one of the other decks, searching for more entertainment, and selfie backdrops. The band at the poolside turned out easy listening and retro-ish Hindi cinema music, the food in the restaurant was plentiful and quite decent (though, strangely, with little Goan cuisine on offer). The bars were well patronised — it would require a lot of effort to fall off the ship, so getting drunk isn’t as much of a hazard as it might seem — with the most enthusiastic customers being a group of middle-aged men, colleagues returning from a conference perhaps, who thankfully didn’t inflict their boisterousness on others. (Though, I’m told, there was an altercation in the pub in the wee hours, which necessitated their being decanted to their rooms.)

When one tires of the music and wandering around the ship, your options are a tiny library or your room. If, as I was, you are in a lower deck, there aren’t any views to be had there, as there are no portholes. Cabins on higher decks do, especially the luxury staterooms right up top. The cabins will feel small — smaller than most hotel rooms — but they are comfortable.

But the best option, at least if you’re like me, was the foredeck. Snag a deckchair — your only competition will be a few couples — and lean back, perhaps with a drink. The deck lights are turned off after 11 pm, you’re far from the music at the stern, and the engines are inaudible; all you have is the buffeting of a very brisk breeze as the ship cuts through the dark waters, more stars than you will ever see on land above you. Dress warm, it gets nippy. Or as the couples around me demonstrated, sail with someone you can snuggle with.

The breakdown

In late October, Angriya began sailing the Mumbai-Goa route (three trips each way per week, starting at 4 pm and ending at 9 am the next day, in either direction) and it is the only Class 4 River Sea Passenger Vessel registered in India. Named after Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre, the 131-metre vessel was acquired from a Japanese owner and refurbished and adapted for its role in Indian waters. It can carry around 350 passengers. Prices range from ₹4,300 per head for the bunks to ₹7,650 per head for the largest stateroom. All passengers also pay ₹2,000 for food. (Aside from the familiar bans on liquids and other materials airlines have accustomed us to, Angriya does not allow passengers to carry food items in their cabin baggage.) More at angriyacruises.com.

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Floating your boat: rides worth checking out

Royal Caribbean x Tirun

Come May, you will have the chance to hop on board the largest ship ever to sail to and from India. In an exclusive partnership with Royal Caribbean International, Tirun Travel Marketing will bring the Spectrum of the Seas to Mumbai. Says Varun Chadha, COO at Tirun, “The cruise travel business from India is likely to rise exponentially, from two lakh passengers to 40 lakh a year within the next five to 10 years.”

With a capacity for over 5,600 guests, the 1,139 foot Spectrum will feature the liner’s first private enclave for suite guests. Activities include karaoke, skydiving and surfing simulators, and an activity space with Virtual Reality walls. Sailings include Dubai to Mumbai (May 4 to 9) and Singapore (May 9 to 18). Priced at approximately ₹10,600 per night. Details: tirun.com

Jalesh Cruises

Starting in April, this India-flagged cruise company — targeted almost exclusively at locals and tourists visiting the country — will launch its international and domestic voyages. The first will be a Mumbai to Goa cruise on the Karnika (with a capacity of up to 1,900 passengers). Other itineraries include Colombo (starting at ₹47,160), Dubai (₹66,000) Penang (₹28,000), and a host of local excursions and trips along the Indian coast. Jain and vegetarian food options included. Details: jaleshcruises.com

UberBOAT

Uber launched its pilot project, UberBOAT, last month. Connecting the ports at Gateway of India, Elephanta Islands and Mandwa Jetty (Alibaug), users can book the service on the ride-sharing app. Priced at ₹5,700 for UberBOAT (six to eight-seater speed boat) and ₹9,500 for BOAT XL (10+ seater). Details: uber.com

Across the Atlantic: Virgin Voyages

You’ll have to travel a little farther for this cruise, given that there is no Indian port between Miami and Havana. But it might be worth the transatlantic flight to celebrate Richard Branson’s 70th birthday (next year) with the man himself on his new cruise line, Virgin Voyages. This adults-only four-day party will be hosted on the decks of the Scarlet Lady. Depart on July 15 2020, stop in the Bahamas (where Grammy winner Mark Ronson will DJ), sweat it out at a free fitness class and dock in Havana for 24 hours. Prices start at approximately ₹1 lakh on virginvoyages.com

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 1:16:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/on-board-the-angriya-and-other-cruises/article26406100.ece

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