Marine drive in Cochin, Kerala is a popular promenade facing the backwaters. Even though it is called a "drive", the road is actually a walkway. There are a number of shopping centres such as Bay pride mall on the other side of the walkway. There are several boat jetties along the walkway and boats offer 1 hour boating on the lake for about Rs.50 ($1). You can also hire a private boat for as little as Rs.500.
However few of the boats offer luxury cruise experience within a reasonable price. The only affordable cruise seems to be operated by KSINC under the name SagaraRani. For Rs.250 ($5) they offer a 2 hour sunset cruise with on-board entertainment/tea with snacks.
I recently went on Sagara Rani cruise with my family. This is a detailed trip report on the experience. I highly recommend this cruise as a weekend evening trip with family or friends.
Sagara Rani Boat Cruise
Sagara Rani is a luxury(it is luxury in Indian terms and don’t expect beer served on board) boat owned and operated by Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation Ltd.(KSINC) in Marine Drive, Cochin. KSINC is a Kerala government undertaking and considering this fact the cruise operated is pretty good. KSINC operates fixed trips on Sagara Rani every day in the morning and evening. It is also possible to charter Sagara Rani for private trips. Trips are organized with on-board entertainment and light refreshments.
Sagara Rani has an air-conditioned conference room, two toilets, a small restaurant and DJ floor with open upper deck. The conference hall can accommodate about 40 passengers and the upper deck about 50/90 passengers. I think the boat can easily accommodate up to 120 people if you are chartering the boat for private use.
As of August 2012, The following cruises are offered on SagaraRani from Marine Drive.
- Morning Cruise (10am – 12pm)
- Sunset Cruise (5pm – 7pm)
On Demand Cruises
- Lunch Cruise (12:30pm – 2:30pm)
- Dinner Cruise (7:30pm – 10pm)
- Ghazal Cruise (7:30pm – 10pm)
Sagara Rani Cruise Route
The following diagram shows the route taken by Sagara Rani during our cruise. I think this is a slightly altered route since we have gone only about 4KM into the sea (The sea was rough due to rains). Usually the boat goes up to 12KM into the sea and if you are lucky, you can watch the sunset from there.
Sagara Rani Boat Cruise : My Trip Report
It was from my brother that I came to know about the Sagara Rani boat cruise. On a Saturday I called up the cruise manager on his mobile and he promptly replied that there are no seats available on that day. He offered me tickets for Sunday and said we should reach there by 4:45pm to board the boat. We started off early on Sunday from Kakkanad and half way through our car ride, the cruise manager called me on my mobile and told that the cruise is cancelled due to lack of reservations!! We then changed our course to one of the malls in the city.
After a couple of weeks I was in Thrissur for Onam holidays and decided to give another try for the Sagara Rani cruise. Again called up the cruise manager and he confirmed our booking. We started from Thrissur early since it was Onam and traffic jams were the order of the day in Ernakulum. We also had alternate plans assuming another cancellation of the cruise.
We reached the boat jetty around 4:00pm and the cruise manager promptly accepted money and gave us the entry tickets. Since we had about an hour or so before the boat departure, we went on a walk along the Marine drive walkway. The Sagara rani is docked on the north edge of the Marine drive walkway.
By the time we came back from the walk and a short coffee stop it was already 5pm and almost everyone had already boarded the boat! If you are going as a group, I recommend getting on the boat early so that you get adjacent seats during the trip. Also get seats in the middle or at the back if you don’t like high volume music blaring in your ears 🙂
Sagara Rani boat has two decks. The upper deck is where all the action happens during the evening trip. The upper deck can hold about 90 people as they have extra plastic chairs to accommodate additional people. The dance and music happens at the front of the upper deck. The captain’s cabin of the boat is also located on the front of the upper deck. When you reach the high seas, I highly recommend you visit the front of the boat. The waves, cool breeze hitting your face and the endless ocean ahead creates a magical experience.
The lower deck has a small restaurant (it was not operational during our cruise) and an air conditioned conference hall. It also has two toilets. You can also sit in the conference hall if you want but they you will miss all the action on the upper deck!
Sagara Rani has a small crew of about 8 to 10 people who keeps the trip interesting. After a quick introduction, the lead guy pointed us towards the various landmarks we passed as we sailed towards the sea. First we saw the Bolgatty Palace and the Goshree bridge on the right. Other landmarks we saw on the way are Vallarpadam bridge, Vallarpadam container terminal, Ramanthuruth, Vypin Ferry, Cochin ship yard and Chinese fishing nets. I saw the Seagull bar on the left side and it is a place I will be visiting in future. Sipping beer with the amazing view in front should be something. The crew pointed us to anything remotely interesting along the way!
We went through the shipping docks and then we headed towards the open sea. We went about 3KM towards the sea then returned back. Usually Sagara Rani goes much further into the sea, however being a rainy day the crew decided to trim the trip to the sea and some of the tourists were very unhappy. However the duration of the cruise was still over 2 hours.
I felt bad for the only foreigner in our cruise who had no clue what the crew was saying in Malayalam for the entire trip.
Sagara Rani Entertainment On-board
The crew tried their best to make the cruise entertainment lively and engaging. However we Malayalees are very reserved and it took a bit of persuasion to get everybody energized. The events started off with a set of songs followed by dance performances by "Cochin Tigers" ( I hope I got the name correct!). During the stage performances, tea and snacks were served. Snacks consisted of vada, biscuits and a small cake. Entertainment team also involved the audience in songs/dances. The trip ended on a high note with everyone dancing along a fast disco song!
The lighting and the music system on the DJ floor is of decent quality. All the seats are provided with life jackets and the boat seemed pretty stable and reliable.
It was cloudy during our entire trip and just before we reached Marine drive, there was heavy rain all around us. The boat took a route very adjacent to the Vallarpadam container terminal and the the view was breath-taking through the rain and the lights. It is something I will never forget.
We reached Marine drive around 7:50pm. All of us left the boat with lots of good memories! I think I will return one day for a private cruise.
Sagara Rani Boat Cruise Video
They say a photo is worth 1000 words and if that is true, a video should be worth about 10,000 words. Here is a video summary of the boat trip. The video is best viewed in full screen HD resolution.
- To book the Sagara Rani cruise or to know more details call up the cruise manager (9846211143). See this page for the latest info (scroll to the bottom for contact numbers).
August 30, 2012 | Posted in Travel Reviews 2 Comments » | By Jayson Joseph