LIFE

Experiencing Kochi regally

Luxury exemplified

Luxury exemplified  

THE "World's Best Small-Ship Cruise Liner" as judged by the readers of Travel + Leisure docked in Kochi on Monday. Silver Shadow, the cruise vessel that belongs to Silversea Cruises, berthed at the Ernakulam Wharf early in the morning.

The cruise liner carried 370 passengers, "a mixed lot from the United States and Europe", as Jaija Paul, the director of Simply South, the travel agency that did the ground handling, puts it.

Despite all the effort and talk about improving the conditions at the Wharf, the situation confronting the tourists remains much the same. The sight of grim-faced security personnel is what the tourist encounters as he/she steps onto `God's own country'.

"Half of the tourists went straight to West Kochi, for a guided tour of Mattanchery, the Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church, Chinese fishing nets and a brief stop-over at the local market. The rest went for a backwater cruise at Alappuzha and a visit to the Marari resorts," said Mr. Peter, as he waited for his guests to return in batches to the ship.

The website that details the cruise has given directions well in advance, like how the tour "involves a good amount of walking" and on the need for "wearing comfortable shoes and lightweight clothing".

Most of the visitors to West Kochi were bowled over by the Oriental charm of the region. "It was good. Our guide spoke good English too," said Sheron Sanders from London. The compliment was reflected in the bright smile of Susan, the guide.

The visitors were accorded a majestic welcome as they berthed in the morning. Complete with caparisoned elephants and panchavadyam.

This was a good enough welcome for this batch, which reached New Delhi on a chartered flight. "The experience was fantastic," said David Freedman from New Hampshire, just back from a visit to Fort Kochi. Would you make another trip to Kochi? "Well, sometime next year, may be."

By Anand Haridas

Photo: Mahesh Harilal

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