The Kerala Houseboat is a very unique concept which attracts many tourists. Staying in a huge private houseboat in the backwaters is always a very enchanting experience. Many people around the world appreciate the concept of houseboat which evolved from the backwaters and the traditions of coastal Kerala. Today there are more than eight hundred houseboats operating in the backwaters, and the number of people who come for a houseboat stay is soaring high. For any tourist, it is always better to get a prior reservation than to walk in to a houseboat, there might be chances that you might not get one when you are on your tour. Houseboat operators offer both day cruises and overnight stays, a houseboat never cruises during the night. All meals are provided within the boat. There are separate bedrooms, bathrooms, dining space, overhead balcony. It is almost like a floating suite.
Top 10 things you should know before a Kerala houseboat booking is made.
1. Condition of the boat
one should always make sure how old the boat is. Houseboats of Kerala are made of wood. A yearly maintenance is always done to keep it in good condition. The age of the boat affects the condition of the boat. The average lifespan of a houseboat is approximately six to ten years. This depends on the quality of the make. Try asking your houseboat operator about age and condition of the houseboat.There are always certain important facts you need to know before planning a houseboat cruise and making a reservation for it.
Houseboats are comparatively expensive. Its because the running costs are high and there would be three crew members on-board. The driver, the engine operator and a chef. There is no particular standardization for the houseboat rent. The rent is directly proportional to the quality of the boat and its services. So if you find a less priced houseboat then the quality of the boat and the services provided would be accordingly. Since there is no specific pricing standard, always look for the services offered. Book the boat much in advance. When you go to the houseboat jetty to rent one, then the costs would be much higher than what you would pay in an advance booking. This is because you will not be able to meet houseboat operator directly at the boat jetty, you will need to approach a mediator at the entrance of the jetty, so these mediators would charge extra money.
3. Cruising route
This is a very important aspect. The most common cruising route is Alleppey to Alleppey; this means that you take a round trip. You will be moving through canals and other backwaters areas where they take you to the real villages of Kerala backwaters. The more the cruising hours it takes, the more would be the rent. Kumarakom to Alleppey and to Kollam and Cochin takes longer hours, so the pricing would be higher.
Food is normally cooked and served within the houseboat. If you have special meal preference, you would need to ask for it much in advance. All the raw materials and other requirements are normally stocked in the boat before the cruise. If you would want to consume wine or alcohol, then you would need to carry it on your own. Mostly the food served in the houseboat is of the local cuisine in Kerala. If you would want to cook on your own, you would need to mention the ingredients required much in advance and this is a extended service and not all houseboat operators offer this service.
5. Check in and check out
The normal check in time for houseboat would be 12:00 PM and checkout time would be nine to ten in the morning. These timings would be approximate and depends on your houseboat operator. Boarding points are normally fixed and most cases they would mention it once a booking is made.
6. Cruising time
Once you board the boat, the cruising starts, there will be no cruising during meals timings. By evening the boat stops cruising and is docked at the banks of the backwaters. This is because it is not advisable to cruise during nights. The cruising resumes next day morning.
7. Crew members
There are mainly three crew members on board a houseboat. The driver who navigates the boat, A engine operator who is responsible for the operations of the houseboat engine, and the chef who is responsible for the preparation of your food.
8. Air conditioning
There are both Air conditioned and non air-conditioned houseboats. Most houseboat operators give air conditioning service during nights. From night 9 pm to morning 7am. Every another hour is charged and only the bedrooms are air-conditioned, other areas are more of open space. These air conditioners are powered with generators.
9. Other services
There are many other complimentary and free services offered in the houseboat. These services depend on the each houseboat operator. Other services normally operated are village trips, coir factory visit, church visit, fishing, canoe village ride and so on. Some operators charge for these other services.
10. Booking and cancellation
One can reserve or book a houseboat for any number of days. An advance deposit is what houseboat operators take to guarantee a houseboat booking. The advance money can be deposited online into their bank account or through any online payment system. You need to ask for the cancellation policy of the houseboat operator before booking a houseboat. During peak tourist season, the operators ask for a complete advance payment.
Always make sure that you have answers for all these questions before you make a booking for a Kerala houseboat.
Written by Benjamin John