KOCHI: Kochi's own 'Sagararani' is busy entertaining guests who throng here from far and near to the extent that she can't take fresh bookings for the next two weeks for her prime attraction, the sunset cruise into the sea through the backwaters, as the annual school vacation has set in. The Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) operates two boats in the same name 'Sagararani' with a carrying capacity of 100 passengers each.
The government organisation alone is authorised to conduct such a guided tour into the sea here. The two vessels were built at Cochin Shipyard. Apart from the tourist guide and two singers on board, there is a well-furnished air-conditioned conference hall with 40 seats, a deck which can accommodate up to 90 people and a DJ floor where those on board can sing and dance to the accompaniment of a powerful music system. A lot of people make merry singing and dancing during the cruise as the sea offers cool breeze.
The history of Kochi city is unveiled by the tourist guide, including how Willingdon Island was made by British engineer Robert Bristo on the orders of Lord Willingdon, and other nittie-gritties which are not even known to many Kochiites. The boat meanders through the backwaters by the side of Willingdon Island, Mattancherry and Fort Kochi on one and Bolgatty, Mulavukad and Vypeen on the other to reach the sea and cruises deep over 15 km when it is time for the sun to set in. A number of ships and other vessels pass by which turns another treat to the eyes.
"Apart from the sunset cruise, we have breakfast cruise, lunch cruise and dinner cruise and the per seat rate goes up to Rs 350," said an official of KSINC. He said that the boat is also offered for groups of 50 people for Rs 25,000 which includes food. For schools and colleges, the package is in the range of Rs 17,000-Rs 18,000, he added. The common refrain from the tourists is that KSINC needs to deck up with better chairs on the deck for a better feel....