|picture courtesy- Rhea|
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
For a long time now, cruise has been on my mind. There have been many occassions when I have made plans, but it has not materialised. Mainly because I have to make a trip to someplace in Europe, Asia or America to take a cruise to exotic destinations. So, my happiness knew no bounds when I heard about this Costa Classica that will begin their cruise from my home town Mumbai. It is a brilliant idea mainly because the cost of travelling is slashed, no more travelling to another place to board the ship, nor any hassle of passport and Visa, its just pack my bags and I am on the go.
I was invited for the launch of ‘First time cruising between Mumbai and Maldives’ at Lotus Room in Trident Hotel. I was eager to learn about their services. Cruising is like a floating city with new view every day without any hassle of packing and unpacking at every port.
Like every other cruise, there is lots of entertainment on board like casino, theatre, disco, ballroom, etc. This classic cruise ship has a total of 654 cabins (with a capacity of 1700 passengers) including sea view cabins and suites with private balconies. It also has jogging track, pools, jacuzzis, library and shopping centre.
Not to forget the food, there will be Indian cuisine, vegetarian and Jain food in addition to their Italian regional menus, a choice of dishes representing different regions of Italy reflecting their culinary heritage.
Cruise of one week will start from Mumbai, pass through enchanting destinations within India such as Goa, Cochin, Colombo and Maldives at the price as low as 42K. Costa neoClassica will perform a series of weekly sailing from 16th December2016 – 18th March 2017.
Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai port, plans to make Mumbai port of International standard with latest technology and sound security. He spoke about opening the eastern front of Mumbai that will change the coastal line of the city.
Valsa Nair Singh, the Principal Secretary Tourism of Maharastra looked positive towards the future tourism where people could come back with happy memories. “This is the perfect mode of ‘Me’ time where you can unwind and just enjoy the cruise” he said.
Nalini Gupta, Costa Cruise India Head, was sure that it would attract lots of corporates, Bollywood clan, religious groups, senior citizens, etc. “We are conducting regular training and workshops for the travel agents to educate them on the product. Cruising is the future and we offer great value for money. We are targeting customers across the board, with kids go free policy,” said Gupta.
“India is one of our strategically strong markets for Costa Asia. With a large population base of 1.3 billion and economic growth, we are confident that India will become a key source for cruising. We have charted out an interesting itinerary for the Mumbai-Male route. This will be a home-port sailing for three months, providing unique experience of nature and culture, along with a customize holidays.” Said Kelvin Wong, Vice President Commercial Costa Cruise Asia,
This idea has appealed me so much that I am looking to contacting my closed circle of friends to accompany me for this trip.
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
I have been to Goa many times and always with set of friends/relatives who want to have a great time. Each time, I get to see Goa in a different perspective. There is Sun, beach, culture and food, Depending on your interest, you need to plan your itinerary. In old Goa, the history comes alive with churches like St.Agustine Church, Basillica of Bom Jesus Church, or you visit temples like Balaji temple, Mangesh temple, Mahalasa Naryani temple, Shanta Durga temple, Mahalaxmi temple, or you could also visit forts and museums. You take a cruise through Mandovi River, and the cultural program, that is performed on the boat is splendid. And of course, there are beaches every where, The city is full of tourist from all over the world and when you go for shopping, you feel as if you are in distant land, there are rows and rows of shopping lanes that look like a flea market showcasing beach-ware, hats, sun glasses, handicraft, jewellery and odds and ends. The city is clean and walking down the dirt roads or on the sand by the beach is pure delight.
This trip, touring around the city was not on my itinerary, this was purely a trip to spend quality time with bunch of friends (32 women to be exact) in some comfortable resort (we had checked in Aguada Anchorage resort). Most of our time was spend at the resort itself with lunches and dinners at nearby exotic places.
During my 3-days-stay at the resort, a secret outing was planned by the organisers. We were asked to get into the hotel bus and go some place. The suspense was unrevealed when we reach Coco beach.
The excitement grew as soon as we saw the boats anchored at the shore. All of us hurried towards the hat stall and started shopping for hats and sun glasses (Yes, we women are like that only, if we see something, we patronise the person who making a living, we have to BUY, if not for ourselves, then for people back home)
One hat on our head and two held in our hands, we walked down the stony, uneven path to aboard the boats (I wish there was a smooth steady path leading towards the boat, there are hundreds of tourists visiting these places everyday, but it was not easily accessible for the old and the handicap, getting into the boat was quite an effort)
But once, into the boat, it was an awsom ride. The cool breeze caressing our faces, the gentle swaying of the boat was soothing as we rowed down the stream. The boatman shared his knowledge, pointing out to the buildings lining up the shores, showiing us the Goa Central jail, fort Aguada, a house where “Hasina Maan Jaygi’ was shot, then there was Bollywood stars, (Jacky Shroff’s and Amir Khan) houses. and surprises of surprises, when I saw two Dolphins shoot up in the mid air for fraction of a second and dive back in.
My interest was now focused in waiting for those Dolphin again. I mean, they were so quick, jumping above waters, then dispearing into waters, with their slimy dynamic black bodies twirling in synchrony, much to our delight. Nobody had warned me about this. This was the surprise. I followed their movements, straining to see under water, watching their every moment as they swam across at a high speed. "Look there! Look there!" everybody was squealing as they followed their movements.
There were many boats on the waters, but they were no threat to the dolphins, this was a no-fishing-zone (Dolphins knew that)
This was thirty minutes ride, but most satisfying one.
The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),
.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” .....as it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.
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