If you have gazed longingly at images of white ocean-liners sailing the deep blue and sighed because they were probably way out of reach, well, the answer to your prayers has sailed into the harbour. Say hello to the Angriya, a 131 metre-long, 120 metre-wide cruise liner with its seven decks, 104 cabins, sleeping capacity of 346 pax, and, more importantly, a fun potential that has whipped up waves of interest.
We sail out of the Princess docks at Mumbai’s BPT to step aboard the vast ship anchored some distance away, which is receiving its finishing touches before its maiden journey from Mumbai to Goa. Beams owner and Captain Nitin Dhond, who has been sailing since the past 41 years, “It’s actually a very exciting route because you have the financial capital on one side and the fun capital on the other, which we want to link seamlessly. When you leave Mumbai, you don’t have to reach Goa to start your fun – it starts the moment you step on board – and on the return the holiday ends only once you disembark at Mumbai!”
Now that sounds like a spectacular idea. The Captain’s sister, and Executive Vice Chairman of Angriya Sea Eagle Pvt Ltd., the very hands-on Leena Kamath Prabhu, adds, “The cruise experience itself is a primary attraction for Indian guests – we all aspire to be on a cruise ship. The main roadblocks are generally lack of leave as a minimum of a week is required. What we are offering you is a short getaway, you could choose to hop back onto the ship and it’s two nights of a welcome break.”
…That, it evidently is. Shares Captain Anand, CEO who is overseeing operations in Mumbai, “The idea has been to make the ship outward instead of inward looking, with malls etc. This is a journey of 14 hours devoted purely to enjoyment. There is a total of 6 bars on board, an infinity pool, a spa, two restaurants, one of which is open to sea and becomes a 24-hour coffee shop when the buffet (all buffet meals included in ticket price) is not being served.” Add to this, know-your-ship walkthroughs, nautical sessions with the marine staff who will teach interested guests about nautical terms and even knots, and finally under-the-sky astronomy sessions to gaze at and learn about the stars. “It’s also your chance to spot archipelagic birds which never come to land but are always at sea. We have so many types of dolphins on the way, if you’re lucky you might even spot a whale or two,” adds Captain Dhond, his light eyes twinkling.
For those seeking additional pampering, head to the therapy rooms for a full body massage, get yourself a much-needed mani-pedi, enjoy a lingering hair wash at the shampoo stations, loll by the poolside as you savour a back and foot massage, or even plonk down in a styling chair for a complete make-up experience, before your own li’l photo shoot!
Labour of love
Post-sunset it’s also time to truly let one’s hair down, what with a live band striking up jolly tunes by the poolside, a DJ blasting the latest dance hits at the two-level lounge-cum-disco and much merriment around the ‘watering holes’. For those desiring a quieter interlude, it would be best to chill at the Gazbar adjoining the heli-deck upfront, where all the sound you hear is that of the Angriya cutting through the ocean – gaz does mean the sound of the sea, after all.
“The enjoyment will continue till 2 am post which you could choose to retire to rest, wake up refreshed, enjoy your buffet breakfast and arrive ready for Goa!” vouches Captain Anand, who clearly finds much pleasure in his work. This passion is, in fact, reflected in the attitude of all the members of the Angriya family, who have been involved in hospitality and open-deck backwater cruises since years now. Their ‘new baby’ has a sentimental significance as it traces the journey of the erstwhile Konkan Shakti, the Bombay to Goa steamer back in the ’70s, which happened to be the very first ship that Captain Dhond, then just a lad, laid foot on. The interest and pride in the west coast maritime history percolates to every aspect; you will spot tributes to the first Maratha Admiral, Kanhoji Angre, who, legend has it, never lost a single battle, while the cabins bear names of various sea forts, and the sleeping-pods are named after various sea mammals and fish.
Charming, yes, but it’s the bridge that really takes our breath away. With its wide glass panels allowing for an unobstructed view of the sea, flanked by a row of radars, electronic charts, GPS systems and more, this is where the real power and romance reside… As the dashing second officer Sunil Khanna enthusiastically shares details about the Angriya, its powerful 2000 bhp twin engines, its steering, its bow thrusters, its healing tanks which steady the balance of the ship, its stabilisers and more, we, for one, have already found our fave spot onboard!