Though originally, ‘Kettuvalloms’ or houseboats were simple, large boats with roofs, used to transport men and materials in the Kerala backwaters in the olden days, the present-day version is completely different. It has got the comforts of a good hotel: well-furnished and air-conditioned bedrooms, modern hygienic toilets, cosy living rooms, a beautiful kitchen, balcony and in some cases an upper-deck. The major areas of a houseboat are :
- Living Area/ Sit-out: This would be the area that you would be spending most of the time during your cruise. Typically, there would be side-seats, sofa, dining table, TV, Music Player etc. in this area. Usually this area is Non- AC and open; but there are premium boats AC with glass-covered living areas and separate dining areas.
- Bedrooms: The no. of bedrooms on a houseboat ranges from 1 to 7; but the common ones are 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom. 80% of the houseboats have air-conditioned bedrooms. Almost all the houseboats have individual bathrooms attached to each bedroom.
- Upper-Decks: Some boats have an upper-deck, in addition to the ground floor. The size of the upper-deck varies from boat to boat. When some boats have small upper-decks, used as sight-seeing deck for the in-house guest, some other boats have bigger upper decks which are capable of holding 50 to 100 guests(usually used for conferences, events, get-togethers etc.)
There will typically be at least 3 crew members, including a cook and a head- sailor, in each boat. The staffs are usually locals from the area and are very friendly and hospitable.
You will get a completely independent boat. You can choose 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom etc. boats according to the size of your group.
Typically, houseboat bedrooms are not very large. Each room can hold 2 persons comfortably; with a little adjustment and an extra bed 3 persons can be accommodated (Extra person is chargeable). Ie. by default, a 1-bedroom houseboat is for 2 persons (Max.3 persons), a 2-bedroom houseboat boat is for 4 persons (Max. 6 persons) and so on.
There are two options for houseboat cruise:
- Day-Cruise: Can be booked anywhere between 10.00 AM and 6.00 PM. Though there are boats which can carry upto 100 pax for day-cruise, for most boats, the capacity is less than 25. Lunch and evening tea/snacks will be served on-board, as per requirement. The charge will depend on the no. of hours (A minimum of 4 hours is usually demanded) & the no. of persons OR could be a lump sum amount.
- Overnight Cruise: Check-in time will be 12 noon. Check-out time will be 9 AM the next morning. All meals(Lunch, Tea/ Snacks, Dinner & Breakfast) are included in this plan.
Most people opt for the Overnight option to get the complete experience and also as it is more cost-effective.
Boat Safety: It is totally safe to cruise or stay overnight on the houseboats listed on this website. Generally, houseboats are large vessels that carry only a fraction of their load capacity. Each boat carries all required safety equipments like fire-extinguishers, life-jackets, lifebuoys etc. Each houseboat is periodically inspected by the Ports Department and certified for the safety aspects and build-quality. Only safety certified houseboats are listed with us.
For Couples/ Honeymooners: It is safe for couples as well as for families. The staff are usually locals and well-informed about the surroundings. In most cases, the houseboat owner will be directly in touch with the guests and takes care of every minor difficulties of the guest on a real-time basis. There are active tourism police aid posts and help-lines around; they provide prompt assistance to the guests round the clock. In short, there is no chance of security problems.
Food is a speciality on houseboats. With an onboard kitchen, we have a variety of options.
The typical non-veg. menu on deluxe boats (included in the package rate) is as follows-
- Welcome Drink: Tender Coconut/ Fruit Juice
- Lunch:- Rice & Chappathi with vegetables and fish, usually ‘Karimeen’ /Prawns and/or Chicken Curry/ Fry.
- Evening:- Tea & Cookies/Local Snacks.
- Dinner:- Rice & Chappathi/ Rotti with Fish/Chicken/Meat Curry and/or Fry.
- Breakfast:- South Indian(Idli/ Dosa/SteamCake Etc.) or Bread with Butter, Jam & Eggs .
For Premium Boats(Higher Category) , multiple dish options will be provided simultaneously. We can make changes in the default menu as per our requirement, if communicated early.
Though this is the default menu, that is not at all it. On request, they will sail us to the local fish markets from where we can buy whatever we like. They will cook it onboard for us(will cost us an extra nominal amount, ofcourse). The most popular is the typical Kerala style spicy fish recepies, especially the ‘Karimeen’(The Pearl Spot), Prawns, Crabs etc. Different kinds of meat (Chicken, Duck, Beef, Rabbit etc.), is also usually available on request. Moreover, if we want, they will take us to local ‘Toddy Bars’, which are famous for the food they serve. Lunch is the most important meal on a boat; so always try not to miss that part.
The typical veg. menu on deluxe boats (included in the package rate) is as follows-
- Welcome Drink: Tender Coconut/ Fruit Juice
- Lunch:- Kerala Pure Veg. Meals – Rice & Chappathi with Vegetables(Thoran, Sambar, Aviyal, Pappad, Pickle, Curd Green Salad)
- Evening:- Tea & Cookies/Local Snacks.
- Dinner:- Rice & Chappathi/ Rotti with Dal Fry/Aloo Gobi/ Paneer Dishes, Pickle.
- Breakfast:- South Indian(Idli/ Dosa/SteamCake Etc.) or Bread with Butter, Jam.
For Premium Boats(Higher Category), multiple dish options will be provided simultaneously. We can make changes in this default menu as per our requirement, if communicated early. Most boats provide Jain Food as well on demand.
The fabulous thing about food on a houseboat is the flexibility; we’ll be able to specify how we want it, spicy or not, with coconut oil or vegetable oil etc., as it is made exclusively for us. The only thing is that we need to communicate it with the boat vendors atleast the previous day so that they can do the purchases accordingly.
No. Night-cruise is not possible. There will be fishing nets installed in the cruise paths during night time, making it impossible to cruise. The cruise ends by 5.30PM or at the most 6.00PM. After 5.30PM, the boat is docked at a safe location by the shore. In the morning, by around 7.30AM the cruise will restart and continue till 9.00AM.
Yes, there is. Majority of the houseboats have ACs only in the bedrooms and not in the common area. By default AC works only at night (from 9.00PM to 6.00AM). If we need to use the AC any other time, we will have to pay extra for that (usually a nominal per-hour charge is collected OR we can opt for full-time AC option by giving a lump sum amount ). There are premium boats where the sit-out is also air-conditioned and full-time functional.
The living area is not air-conditioned for many boats. But there are premium boats in which the Front sit-out is air-conditioned and is glass-covered, so that sight-seeing is not affected. In some boats, there is an open sit-out and a separate air-conditioned, glass-covered dining area.
Houseboats, in a broad sense, are be classified as follows:
- Standard Houseboats: Standard houseboats can be considered the base category boats. They will have all the basic amenities, a living area, bedrooms(usually non-AC) with attached bath etc. The difference with the other categories is basically in the size, the interiors and furnishing. Due to smaller sizes, some of them are used for inland cruise, through small water-ways and canals; and this attracts some tourists.
- Deluxe Houseboats: Majority of the houseboats are called ‘Deluxe’. Though nothing solid can be inferred from this, it generally means that it has air-conditioned bedrooms. Seeing the photographs of the boat is the best way to choose the boat that we want.
- Premium Houseboats: What is called premium are of two types. In the first type, they give neat deluxe boats with premium services (ie. Full-time AC in bedrooms, premium food menu etc.). In the second type, the boats will be different than the deluxe ones. They might have air-conditioned living areas/dining areas with glass covering. The interiors, furnishing and baths will be more premium. A few ones even have Jacuzzi pools and Ayurvedic Massage Rooms in them.The food menu will also be of premium category.
A houseboat trip is generally a peaceful, relaxed affair which blends us with nature. If we need to make it more active could do some fishing (most boats provide fishing rods), Toddy bar visits, Market visits, POI Visits etc. If you are interested in any activities, do inform the vendors in advance so that arrangements can be made accordingly(if possible).
You could carry Books/ DVDs/ Games of your choice if you wish. Though TVs and DVD players will be there on most of the boats, cable or dishTV won’t be there as it is in motion; so players can be used to play movies/music of your choice.
Though first-aid kits will be available on boats, it is better to carry the general medicines usually used by you, if any.
Though AC rooms are free from insects, in the Non-AC open air areas, during some seasons, at night time insects might be there. So those with sensitive skin are recommended to carry insect repellent cream.
Beverages/ Beer: Though ample mineral water will be available on board, beverages/beer of your choice might not be. So it is better to take it with you. Most boats do have refrigerators in the kitchen.