EXTENDED cruises on the beautiful Kerala backwaters in southern India are now available for the first time.
Visits to the backwaters were previously limited to a night or two aboard houseboats but the new, week-long cruises will offer a deeper insight into the life, traditions and customs of the waterways.
The cruises are being offered by Adventure Resorts and Cruises. There will be 36 seven-night sailings aboard the nine-cabin RV Vaikundam from Cochin (Kochi) to Alleppey (Alappuzha) and vice versa.
To mark the debut of the extended journeys aboard the traditional wooden, 18-passenger barge, a discount of 20 per cent is available for sailings from October this year to April 2020.
In addition, single travellers will be able to explore Kerala's labyrinth of palm-lined lakes, lagoons, canals, rivers and inlets without paying a solo supplement.
Passengers will visit villages, temples. churches, spice markets, martial arts schools and Ayurvedic medicine centres, meet traditional craftsmen and farmers and watch the schoolchildren, traders and fishermen who use the waterways in dugout canoes for daily commutes and trade.
They will also visit an elephant shelter, watch colourful dance displays and see how coir, or coconut fibre, is used to make products.
The two-deck Vaikundam is modelled on a traditional rice barge and features air-conditioned cabins with en-suites and water views, a restaurant serving Indian and international cuisine, a library, an open lounge area and a panoramic sundeck.
Fares for this inaugural season start at US$2170 per person, which includes the 20 per cent saving. The first cruise sails on October 4.
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