By Sulakshna Wadhwa
The firsts are always known to etch a special memory. Jalesh Cruises, India’s first premium cruise liner created that very memory for its passengers and the nation with the official naming ceremony of its ship as Karnika on 19th April. The ship with a capacity of 2,000 passengers cruised over the long weekend from Mumbai to the High Sea. Shreyasi Punit Goenka inaugurated the voyage and wished good luck, success, and safety.
While Jalesh is named after the Lord of the water, Karnika has been named after a celestial nymph, who according to legend emerged when gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrit, the elixir for life. The celebration of this paramount occasion saw five Indians who have been the first ones in their fields to bring international laurels to the nation. Gracing the stage were Milkha Singh, first Indian Athlete to win a Gold at Commonwealth Games (1958), Subhash Chandra, Chairman, ZEE & Essel Group, the first Indian to launch a private satellite TV channel (1992), Actor Sushmita Sen, the first Indian Miss Universe (1994), Mahesh Bhupathi, first Indian to win Grand Slam Tournament (1997) and Mary Kom, the first Indian woman boxer to win Asian Games (2014).
What s the experience on board like?
After a shuttle ride from the Green Gate at Mumbai s International Cruise Terminal, just like an airport, one will find themselves at the check-in counter. But instead of a ticket, you re handed over a card which acts like a key card, access card to amenities, and a cashless card allowing you to transact for paid services upon loading a balance. The foundation decks are submerged in water where the crew takes care of every detail to run the show. It is Deck 5/Atrium level onwards where your cruising experience begins. Like any other plush hotel, you re welcomed here with a host of welcome drinks, followed by allocation of your cabin, your home amidst the ocean. The rooms are categorized with an interior view, ocean view, and suite room. If your heart has endless admiration for the beautiful ocean, a room with a balcony offering this splendid view is recommended.
The culinary experience is where Jalesh cruise really stands out in its approach towards creating a luxurious International experience the Indian way. Most of Deck 12 is where a tastefully done up food court is housed where meals are served 5 times a day as a part of every package. A range of cuisines from Indian to Chinese finds their way here, including a dedicated Jain restaurant too! As many as 11 restaurants are included in the ticket price, barring 2 premium restaurants, and a Frozen Station which is to be paid separately for.
The entertainment front is straight from Las Vegas and New York with The Broadway Experience and The Burlesque Experience live on stage at the beautifully designed Marquee Theatre on Deck 7. This experience is further refined as exotic cocktails do the rounds to your seat. Furthermore, stand-up comedy presenting some of India s finest comics, magic shows with illusionists, and a jaw-dropping juggling show from across the globe take the stage. If you re cruising with your family, a gaming zone, teenage unwinding zones, a kids zone got you covered. Apart from shows, soothing live music performances on multiple decks, casino, and good old games will keep you constantly hooked.
For those who like nothing more than a spa vacation, the onboard spa overlooking the Blue sea is a definite treat. A fully-functional gym next to the spa caters to those who are constantly watching their calories and workout regimes.
Some insights straight from the team
Jurgen Bailom, President & CEO, Jalesh Cruises said, The idea of Jalesh cruises was created about a year and a half ago, we knew it had to be an Indian product meant for them to create a home away from home. He further added we want them to have an International experience without the hassle of a visa or passport. Shedding light on the cruising culture in India, Lydia Almeida, Hotel Director, Jalesh Cruises shared that cruising is a safe experience for elders who can t travel by air as special provisions have been made on the ship, as well as for solo travelers allowing them to connect with others.
Karnika will undertake 15 sailings for Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai and Mumbai-High Seas-Mumbai between April and mid-May 2019. The ship will undertake its first international sail from Mumbai to Dubai on May 24th, 2019 where it will port until mid-September 2019 before coming back to Mumbai. Additionally, the cruise offers land-based excursions at different ports for passengers.
(The author is a Mumbai-based travel writer. Views expressed are personal.)