Classic 1 Night Kerala Houseboat Cruise
This is our most popular traditional houseboat cruise covering Vembanad Lake and Backwaters. Wonderful introduction to this unique world. Available in different ratings, sleeps from 2 - 8 as required.
About Your Cruise
You will board around midday in either Kumarakom on the East side of Vembanad or at one of the jetties near Alappuzha. We can pick up from either as required by your schedule. After you are settled and have enjoyed a calming sweet cocont, we will motor into Vembanad Lake before entering the canal system of what is called the Kuttanad - the erstwhile rice bowl of Southern India. The is vast arrangement of geometric rice paddies called Blocks that connect the ancient backwaters to the Lake and sea.
After setting off, we sometimes stop at one of the canal-side fish markets to stock up on some fresh fish for the journey which gives you a chance to decide what you want and you can embellish our menu with lobster if they are available. Whether we stop for some shopping, we will cruise for a short period before stopping for a bite of lunch as we moor beside a paddy. Lunch is actually quite a rich event and you will have been smelling the aroma of grilling and frysing from the galley at the rear as you were cruising which should get the saliva going. Lunch is two course but quite a few dishes that include meat, fish and vegetable dishes , all cooked Kerala style.
Please note: we can cater for vegetarians and vegans as required
After lunch, we raise sail and start to explore the canals and byways of this unusual ecosystem. Without roads, all life in the backwaters takes place on the stage of the canal bank - whether it be washing clothes and children, gossipping or buying fish and victuals from the itinerant boatmen. You may hear their distinctive cries as they paddle down the canals. Each type of salesman has a different cry. Later in the afternoon, you will see the children returning from school all smart in school uniforms returning from Alappuzha on the water ferries.
As the sun starts to set we find our night time moorings and anchor for the night (usually around 6ish). This is your chance to enjoy a sundowner and take in the late afternoon activities of the local society. The backwater houseboats all moor at the same time to free the waters for the night time fishermen who now paddle past quietly on their way to set nets or fish with lights. While you are relaxing in the bows watching the world go by, the crew will be cooking dinner for you. This could be the moment to set out along the banks to discover the world of the backwaters and one of the crew will be happy to show you around and help you notice the little details. After dinner, we often dim the lights and simply enjoy the peace and calm of the night. One of our favourite evening was spent lying on the day bed in the bows puffing on a cuban cigar - heaven!
When sleep hits, retire to your cool cabin and enjoy a sleep with the most gentle of rocking of the boat in the night. Morning features breakfast aboard before we motor for the last time to our berth and your disembarkation.
The waters of the backwaters are the reason why this area is so ecologically unique and interesting: the level is below high tide line so the waters are fed from two distinct sources: the sea and the rivers from the mountains and this makes the water slightly brackish and the home to species that have evolved to survive this environment. As you travel through the backwaters you will see a wide variety of birds - both wild and domestic - duck farming is popular here and you will encounter flocks of over 1000 birds quacking along the canals. You will not see below the surface the variety of aquatic life - fish, mussels, clams and prawns. From the amount of fishing activity you will see during the day and night - it will be obvious that they are there and in some abundance.
The waters of the backwaters are full of fish, prawns and mussels. Dive in to the waters to come back up with mussels. Why, the likes of Anthony Bourdain have sampled the mussels harvested here. The trick is to cook it well unlike the gourmet dishes of curing and flash cooking. Despite this the masalas added bring out mussel dishes that are quite a revelation. Experience the whole process from fishing to cooking and enjoying a Keralan mussel delicacy.
Your Sleeping Cabin
All boats now offer en-suite cabins with double bed and shower/washroom. All deluxe boats offer 24hr AC, whilst some standard boats offer only intermittent AC (see more about boats below)
Food Aboard the Houseboat
All meals are cooked and served aboard the boat and feature the typical Kerala cuisine. Indeed, may Keralites believe that you get the best food in houseboats! Ingredients are local and fresh and feature the ubiquitous local "fat" rice, lots of coconut in various forms, the backwater Karimeen or Pearl Spot fish and vegetables in as many ways as we can curry them. Each meal features a number of dishes... and you just dig in. If you have special diet requirements, we need to know before hand to ensure that you are offered appropriate food.
We cannot sell alcohol as boats are not licensed... but where there is a way, there is a means! We can discuss beer etc with you.
Included in the Cruise Price
- All Meals
- AC (except where specified)
- Soft Drinks
- Sheets, Towels, Soap, etc
Not Included in the Price
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Transfers (arranged separately as required by you)
Standard & Deluxe/Luxury Boats
We distinguish between two classes of boat - standard and deluxe/luxury as a simple way for you to choose which type of boat you want. We also list below examples of the boat to help you choose what boat you want to choose.
In overall layout, they are very similar. The real distinction is age of boat and quality of build.
Deluxe/luxury houseboats are either new or simply very well maintained with high crew quality and the overall build and finish is excellent. For a good nights sleep and real comfort - choose deluxe.
Transfers & Departure Points
We can arrange pick up transfers for you inf necessary. Typically visitors may be starting from Fort Cochin and we can happily arrange for car pickup from hotel to transfer to the boat-jetty at exxtra cost (24 hours notice required).
Departure points for this cruise are normally Alappuzha or across Vembanad Lake at Kumarakom. However, we can arrange cruises from specific places as required.
To Prebook or Not to Prebook... That is the Question
There are a lot of houseboats on the backwaters - too many if truth be told! So you might just choose to turn up and see what is available and haggle. If that is how you roll, don't let us stop you. We are here for travellers who don't want to discover that having travelled all the way to Kerala, they end up with a crappy houseboat that is not prepared for them. By prebooking your houseboat, we can ensure you get a good one we know, that it is ready for you and fully and freshly provisioned. You may be leaving town soon, but we won't be so houseboat owners know that they must not mess us about.
We have spent a lot of time tramping the decks which you can benefit from, so if you really want to ensure the houseboat goes well... book with us.
Note: Cruise starts at 12:00 noon with lunch and ends by last day morning 09:00 after breakfast. As per government rule, the boat will be anchored from 05:30 pm to 7:30 am to ensure that the movement of the boats does not disturb the local fishermen whose lights you will see at night as they set nets.
Houseboat Cruise Rates
Prices vary across the season for cruises. Luxury boats are more expensive than superior boats as you would expect. Each cabin sleeps two people. For luxury category, price can vary a little as per the boat chosen.
Why are there 2 Rates?
Larger boats are less expensive per person than smaller boats. In other words: 6 people in a 3 cabin boat works out cheaper than 2 people in a single cabin houseboat. Remember that all our boats are Private; you don't share with anybody else, naturally.
Peak Season is the Xmas and New Year Period where prices usually rise by 25% but it can depend and we negotiate to get the best rates.