I woke up with the gentle sway of the ship and to the most beautiful shade of blue stretching for miles and miles. From my cabin in India’s first premium cruise ship, the Arabian Sea glittered in the sun and the waves around the ship burst into white frills. This was Jalesh Cruises’ Karnika’s second voyage and our destination was the high seas. After a glitzy, yet patriotic, inauguration ceremony, the 70,285-tonne ship set sail in the night.
Karnika enters the Indian market with expert precision. After its maiden voyages to both Goa and the high seas, the ship aims to make 15 sailings until mid-May. On May 24, it will travel to Dubai from where it will operate until mid-September before coming back home to Mumbai. Where Indian cruises are limited in number and experience, Karnika aims to offer an international cruise that caters to Indian tastes.
The crew calls it a home away from home and they aren’t entirely wrong. Karnika can host up to 2,000 passengers (plus crew members) and the 14-deck ship offers something for everyone. The cruise has designated activities and areas for children and also happens to be wheelchair accessible
The food is primarily Indian, and guests can find plenty of vegetarian and Jain options. The food court has 11 food stations, and there are three fine-dining restaurants—Waterfront serves Indian food, Chopstix has a pan-Asian menu and the Chef’s Table can be booked for a more intimate setting.
The sail was smooth, and when I got tired of the views, I turned to see what facilities Karnika had to offer. My two-day trip became an unintentional digital detox. The ship still has a few kinks to fix when it comes to the wifi, but the lack of connectivity was quite refreshing. My time was spent reading rather than scrolling, and meals were a group affair where the conversation was constant and not made up of phone pings.
At any given time, the cruise is abuzz with activities. There is an onboard spa, a salon, a multi-facility gym and duty-free shopping. If that’s not enough: Karnika has nine bars, a casino, a gaming room, movie screenings, and a club to keep everyone engaged. DJ Bally Sagoo performed for the sundowner at the topmost deck. On deck seven, we headed to the Marquee where comedian Papa CJ entertained right after a juggling act—did I mention that the jugglers juggled humans? It got better: the musical Written in the Stars was spectacular, and the adults-only burlesque show was provocative and classy, though a lot peppier than I expected.
At night, I stood in the balcony of my cabin. The white frills of the waves turned grey as the sea lulled into darkness but on the deck above, the party continued. Turns out, much like the sea, Karnika doesn’t tire either.
From INR 7,700 per person, per day; jaleshcruises.com