It was Thursday evening and I got a message from the Hong Kong Desi team if I would like to go on a cruise as they had two extra tickets. And lo and behold, it was! Just the month before, I saw a Bollywood themed, luxury cruise and was thinking of going…but due to my work schedule, I couldn’t make it. I have always wanted to go on a luxury cruise for the past few years. So, I jumped on the opportunity and agreed. I left the laptop behind.
Aryaman, my son was excited too. He immediately said – mommy, let’s go before other kids tell their vacation stories, I must have mine. Oopps! He just wanted a perfect vacation story. So, we just organized our stuff to carry and hoped we did not change our mind at the last minute. We completely focused our thought on Bollywood dance, Indian food, movies, bingo and more – a perfect Bollywood life on a cruise. Life would not be grander…
The cruise was indeed a Bollywood cruise. It was full of high energy like the final scene of a Bollywood film. After check-in, we went to our palace suite and knocked on the door. Upon entering, I found a butler waiting for us! A special butler assigned to us…that was super luxury. I was hoping she would bring large welcoming cake for us, but she did not. I believe she would have if we asked her.
She was sweet and explained everything in her sweet, but broken English. Communicating with her was kind of like reading the English subtitles to a Bollywood movie. I found out all palace suite passengers had a butler. Wow. I really felt like a Queen…
The butler later took us to a The Palace restaurant and seated us so we could order our special food – It was not filet mignon. It was not chicken francaise. It was none other than a vegetarian food! How do you think I stay healthy? We are not eating American food. We are eating Indian vegetarian food!
Things worked out very well except that Aryaman wanted to bring a friend. But with such short notice, no one could join us at the last minute on the cruise.
Friday was pretty much a relaxing day without many activities apart from losing at bingo and performance on board with passengers.
Saturday was an exciting day that started with celebrity yoga guru Denise Keller and later another yoga session with yoga guru Deepak, whose 3 generations of experience were in teaching, promoting yoga, and eating Bollywood vegetarian food. This intense yoga session was followed by tai chi and laughter yoga.
The day was filled with various activities catering to audiences with wider interests – everything from beer to gin and tonic, and then wine.
Apart from the watch and jewelry sale on broad, the main attraction was a Zumba session for kids and adults! And that is when I couldn’t believe that Zumba was created by a South American when I watching Salman Khan’s last movie as I recognized all of the moves!
My son enjoyed Zumba dance, little master chef pizza making, and Bollywood dance etc. He seemed to be destined to become a dancing pizzeria owner. Another major attraction for him was swimming and slides. He was super excited with the longest slide onboard. I feared for his life the whole time. I just hoped he wouldn’t be swallowed by the longest slide. But, he was grinning when he came out of the tube…
There were many other attractions for kids onboard such as ‘my dad is better than yours challenge’. Many children and fathers left this attraction with low self-esteem. There was an arts and craft session, an ancient Chinese kids program, Monopoly and the 3D movie Coco – all these activities including the cooking, dancing, movies and games kept the kids busy and kept the parents drunk. For both the kids and the parents, one day was not enough… the excitement and inebriation on their faces were priceless.
I did wish they allowed ten year old kids in the hot tub without parents as they had a lifeguard and security people watching over them. I had much to do on this dream cruise and the hot tubs were not deep. Without parents, it becomes difficult for kids to enjoy their time because they end up locked up in the cabin or the suite with the butler while the parents are at the craps tables. How much fun is that?
As a parent, I loved this dream cruise as I found it was safe and secure . . . . . with adequate life guards and pool staff around. The gaming and entertainment zone and swimming areas were safe. It was the buffet that was excellent, but unsafe for belly. So much food!
Parents also wish to enjoy and have fun and not every family can afford to bring a nanny onboard. However, there is a caretaker service available onboard and the service is charged on a per hour basis.
The main attraction I found was Bollywood dancing and Indian food. Without these, Indians can’t think of entertainment. For Indians, it’s like thinking of your children attending school and not thinking about Harvard. It’s the same thing.
There was such a high energy onboard during the Bollywood dance party in the afternoon and the Bollywood disco party with celebrity DJ Rink at late night. The party started at 11pm and ended at 2 am in the morning. Both kids and adults enjoyed famous Bollywood DJ Rink. We indeed had a great time dancing in open sky in middle of the ocean, – it was way better than any famous nightclub! And, the best part was, kids could also join us on the dance floor…
Indian food was served in the Lido restaurant in a buffet style. We needed a buffet so that instead of gaining five to ten pounds, we could gain 50. Huh! Many Chinese people were also relishing Indian curry for a change. I told the Chinese that curry is not eaten with chopsticks and showed them how to use a hand. Dal, rajma, paneer, chapatti, and aloo gobhi for Saturday afternoon along with western dessert. It was lovely like a bi-racial marriage. I would have imagined if rasmalai and gulba jamun or gajar /suji halwa were served, they would have cracked the code, and we would have all entered nirvana. Without these sweets the Indian food seemed a bit incomplete.
To my surprise, the dream cruise manager informed me that there would be Bombay street-food available on the deck by the pool because the cruise manager knew we were all ravenous for more food. So we rolled our way onto the deck by the pool. We had no more legs. We were just stomachs that moved from one part of the boat to another. If we continued to eat, the ship would sink little by little. We could buy the street food with coupons, which made it even more convenient for us to eat. My son enjoyed vada pav and papadi chat and samosa. I too relished samosa and dal vada. The biggest hit was masala doodh (milk). This was heavenly and my son and I continued to gulp. The counter was crowded and fatties. – I mean foodies — waiting for their turn. The masala doodh made up for the Indian sweets. I finally received that happy ending to my meal!
I personally enjoyed the world-class variety performance watching it from a front row. I couldn’t watch it completely as I was attending the captain’s exclusive cocktail party where he invited guests staying in the palace suite and villa. I loved the privacy and the exclusivity. I felt like the rich on the Titanic.
Overall it was a fun-filled, exciting and exhausting trip of wonderful Bollywood dreams and memories. It was the best weekend getaway a family can think of.
The best part is that no travel was involved when we reached the terminal by taxi and boarded the ship. It was just like going for an outing. You walk on the ship and then they roll you off the ship to taxi stand and you are in your home…
Here are my tips for travel on a dream cruise:
- Please carry your swimsuit and vacation clothing.
- There is no fashion show on dance floor. You will regret your fancy, revealing dress on the open deck in the cold weather.
- Dance in your comfortable shoes or you are going regret bringing your Jimmy Choos.
- Check out the itinerary and plan your day well in advance, so you don’t miss out on your favorite activities.
- Go to the 16thdeck to enjoy swimming early before 10 so you can enjoy swimming before everyone that has a hangover from the night before comes to the pool. Hit the hot tub and slides for at least a couple of hours before lunch so you don’t balloon up into a whale prior to your meals. Otherwise, you can consider planning on other activities like watching foreigners stuff their face with samosas and having no dance rhythm on the dance floor.
I hope you enjoyed my featured travelogue!