Travelling on India's first luxury cruise, KARNIKA, had some really exciting things to look forward to, as well as some really big disappointing surprises.
So let me tell you about the exciting things to look forward to:
We booked a the balcony sea view room at a steal deal through Akbar Travels almost 2 months in advance. Tip - Always try to negotiate the price directly and avoid any online bookings which are mentioned on various sites. Online rates are fixed and negotiations cant be made. You can also ask the agents for discounts which otherwise is not possible if you go ahead online.
The room was amazing and of course with a lovely balcony to enjoy the scenic view of the ocean. Basic toiletries like shampoo and shower gel were available. Like most international cruises, they do not provide a dental kit, so make sure you carry your own as they do not provide one even on request.
The cruise has a variety of restaurants to choose from, mostly catering to the Indian palate. There were very few international cuisine restaurants and some of them are not included in the package price which includes all your meals.
The cruise started off with a sail away party with the Dj hitting it off with some Bollywood music. English hits were played too, but the crowd was more of a Bollywood fan following. You can head up on the deck, with a cocktail of the day in your hand and sink into the amazing atmosphere. Alcohol and other beverages is chargeable on the cruise in US Dollars.
Note: No cash is accepted at restaurants and bars. You have to top up the Jalesh card, which is your room key and can be swiped to make payments. Although the cruise mentions cash/cards accepted, card payments weren't going through because of network issues. The balance in your card if any, is fully refundable.
Each day on the cruise, has a different planned schedule with details of events that take place in the course of day. You have the liberty to choose what suits your schedule. They have Broadway shows, dance classes, games etc. The Broadway shows were amazing, the first day was a free show, open to all and the second day was strictly an adult paid show.
There were multiple areas on the cruise that had live music of various genres for the entertainment of the guests on board. The club CONNEXIONS, had the DJ playing till early morn.
Now once the ship reaches Goa for a halt of 6 hours, you have the liberty to stay on the cruise and take part in the various activities organised for you, or you can choose to step out and head to a nearby beach in Goa. We chose the later, and headed off to St. Jacinto Island, which is 20 min away from Marmagao port. There are a lot of local taxis with various packages of a short tour of 3 hours waiting outside, but we decided to strike a deal with a cab guy for Rs.1500 for a 7 seater car to take us to and fro to the island.
At the island, we had an amazing goan lunch at Bridge and Tunnel - Bar & Restaurant. We spent a good 3 hours and returned back for our departure.
NOTE - Do pay attention to the timings and instructions announced on board and make sure you adhere to the rules.
On embarking the ship once again you have a security check like the one in Mumbai, so no eatables and drinks allowed.
And now to the disappointing surprises:
Although there was a pool, me and my friends did not use it, as everyone else chose to enter into the pool in their cotton wear (churidars, sarees, men in their cotton underwear, cotton shorts and everything else but a proper swim wear.)
Kids were playing in the Jacuzzi and it was foaming so much, that it was just unpleasant and unhygienic to enter. There was absolutely no supervision or life guard around, and no sign of a swim suit compulsion either.
The restaurants were shut by 10.30 pm, just one restaurant was open till 12, even though the schedule mentioned they would be open till 2 am. So by the end of the night you are actually starving or have to pay exorbitant prices for snacks like peanuts only.
The club too was shut by 1 am, so we couldn't enjoy a whole night of partying like the cruise mentions.
Certain dishes were repeated and certain were not that great.
The waterfront restaurant was a fine dining area, but the same food was served in the food court too which was a very noisy area. So suggest head to the restaurant whenever they are open as they have timings too.
Sadly a lot of people on the cruise did not adhere to the rules and regulations, many corporate groups who were part of the cruise seemed to not care about any rules either. One such instance was there were Paan stains on the pots, definitely not what i would like to see on a luxury cruise.
But handling such a huge crowd, I guess is definitely a big and tiresome task for the crew, so we as passengers and guests need to adhere to rules and maintain the standard which the cruise wishes to set. Otherwise it does not serve the purpose of calling it a Luxury Cruise.
But to sum it all up, the overall experience was amzing, and hoping to do an international sector with them. The staff were so friendly and supprtive to all or query and needs.
We just chose to enjoy ourselves being mesmerized by the views of the ocean, watching the sunset, sunrise while sipping on some chilled beer and relaxing on the sun loungers.