The first visualization that would pop up into the mind at the mention of a houseboat or a cruise would probably be the sparkle off a modern cruise boat but add Kerala in front of the “houseboat” or “cruise” and you have a novelty promising a spiritual and rejuvenating journey. India is a land of chaos and mystery, so it is only natural to wonder what is actually going to happen in one of the famous ” backwater houseboat cruises” of Kerala.
So what exactly is a houseboat?
Originating from the need for transporting men and materials on the Kerala backwaters, the houseboat has its origins in the “Kettuvallams”, made from local and eco friendly; bamboo poles, coconut fibre, ropes, bamboo mats, carpets etc. The onset of modern transportation soon turned these into remodelled luxurious houseboats that are now one of the chief attractions of the tourists.
What makes it special?
While there may be five star resorts and other luxurious accommodations for experiencing a tranquil vacation, the houseboats offer a rustic experience, bringing the travellers in touch with the grandeur of nature.
What kind of amenities do I expect on it?
Most of the latest designs incorporate bedrooms with toilets, a living space and kitchen. There are several variations ranging from lesser rooms to large living space and maybe a deck balcony at the roof level. Normally, the platforms that cantilever from the hull are used as balconies. Innovative changes have been made to accommodate modern fittings. The amenities vary depending upon the kind of package that you have chosen. Some of the facilities include dressing mirror, luggage compartment, writing table, wardrobe, attached bathrooms,television, music system, and air-conditioning.
How long do the cruises last?
There are two types of cruises: day cruises and overnight cruises. Usually the overnight cruise is suggested by most people. Check-in time for day cruise is approximately 11 am while checkout time is 5:00 pm. For overnight trip check-in is usually around 12 pm while checkout is next day 9:00 am (the timings vary with cruise operators). According to Govt regulations, Houseboats are usually not allowed to move from 5:30 pm to morning to allow fishermen to work, hence they are usually docked, near the banks, for the night.
What kind of cuisine does the Houseboats follow?
Kerala houseboats in particular are famous for its reputation for good sea food. Of course, sea food anywhere is expensive but because of the proximity of the state to the seas and oceans, sea food tends to be cheaper in Kerala. But depending on your budget and liking, food served in Kerala houseboats can vary. However, most often the houseboat foods includes fish and vegetarian food because that is what is most often demanded by the customers. Breakfast in houseboats in Kerala mostly comprise of the quintessential south Indian foods such as idly, dosa, sambar, with hot tea or coffee. During lunch most of the times, the menu will include foods such as different kinds of fish fry and they are also accompanied with different kinds of chutneys, papad and different kinds of sweets. During most evenings in the house boats, the passengers are given tea and other snacks which may or may not be south Indian. They could be from different parts of the country depending upon the kind of Kerala house boat package you have chosen.
Do I get alcoholic drinks on the Houseboat?
The stringent licensing requirements by the Kerala State Government has its effects on the houseboats and consequently the boats do not have a bar or stock alcohol. Some cruise operators maybe okay with you carrying your own alcohol , or buying (at request) you beer from the local shops.
Which is the best time to go for a Houseboat Cruise?
The pleasant and equable climate of Kerala makes it a favorable place to visit throughout the entire year. Winter and summer (October to March) are the peak tourist seasons. A cruise in the houseboats on the backwaters of Kerala, or experiencing the beauty of sunset over the Arabian sea from Kovalam beach during summer and boating in the Thekkady lake, or trekking the highlands of Kerala during winter,all are sure to be experiences worthy of being cherished throughout life. But for those, who really want to enjoy the day under the cloudy sky, and feel the bracing scent of the wet soil, revitalizing the body, mind and soul, monsoons are meant for you.