Rainbow Cruises is a Gold Star rated brand that owns and operates some of the best houseboats in the backwaters of Alleppy (Alappuzha) district, which is one of the leading tourist destinations in Kerala, India.
Floating tranquilly on the crisscrossing network of Kerala’s backwaters, these cruise boats offer an idyllic setting to the discerning traveller who is looking for a peaceful holiday surrounded by the beauty that is Kerala. Several tour companies operate houseboats in the backwaters.
I had the pleasure of experiencing a day cruise on one of these crafts owned by Rainbow Cruises, during my media tour which was organised as a run up to the Kerala Travel Mart KTM2018 held in Cochin, Kerala, India from Sep 28th-30th, 2018.
Come cruise with me down the Punnamada lake which morphs into the mighty Vembanad lake and savor the experience of the sail.
About the houseboats or Kettuvallams –
The houseboats of Kerala were originally barges that were used to transport cargo like rice and spices and even passengers. They however took a backseat with the advent of more rapid means of transport like trains and trucks.
The revival of these boats took place when they were discovered to be popular in tourism and there was a surge of new crafts that were built, resulting in over 2000 boats that ply the backwaters today in their upgraded avatar of tourist houseboat.
Kettu means to tie and vallam is boat, referring to the method by which these crafts are constructed. No nails are used in the assembly and the boat is put together using wooden planks fastened together by ropes of coir and made waterproof by paining over with cashew oil based resins. The planks are mainly made of jackfruit tree wood. The roof is thatched with interwoven bamboo and palm leaves. Basically all natural and local material (read eco friendly) is used in the construction. The sizes of the boats range from 60 ft to 100 ft in length.
The houseboats used for cruising are well equipped with all modern facilities to provide a comfortable, luxurious and safe experience to the tourist. This includes safety systems, power, clean water, kitchen with chef and trained staff on board, hotel style bedrooms, fresh linen, modern washrooms and sometimes even a conference hall. Depending on the size of the boat, the number of bedrooms range from 1 to even 5.
Ratings are awarded by the Tourism department of Kerala, based on the features offered by the brand.
On board entertainment can also be arranged on request and includes performances of classical dances, martial arts and local theater.
In order to protect the environmental sanctity of the waters, on board sewage treatment plants make sure that waste is not directly discharged into the lake.
About Rainbow Cruises –
Rainbow cruises is one of the well known houseboat operators in the Alleppy region and they own around 25 boats of various categories ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms. They are one of the few companies that own their own private marina.
Apart from providing cruises for leisure they also have facilities to conduct corporate meetings and events.
Our experience –
We set out by road from Cochin from our hotel The Gateway Ernakulam, to reach the Rainbow cruise jetty at Alleppy, around 60 km away. Ours was a 3 hour cruise that included lunch which was freshly cooked on the boat after we boarded.
We set sail from the Punnamada lake that led to the vast waters of the Lake Vembanad, going past the Punnamada resort and the Sports Authority of India’s Water Sports Center, installed the midst of Lake Vembanad.
We were welcomed with Kerala’s own soft drink, the tender coconut water. We spent our time exploring the boat and relaxing on the deck in the cool breeze of the lake.
If one is not constantly attempting to shoot pictures, one can have a very restful time and lie back on the comfortable chairs and enjoy the holiday as intended 😀 In my case of course, I was happier trying to feed in all the sights into my camera, including other boats passing by and cormorants and other water birds that very kindly posed for me.
Lunch was an interesting affair with a mix of vegetarian and non veg Kerala style food. There was the quintessential whole Karimeen (Pearl spot) fry which is one of Kerala’s signature items. The bitter gourd (karela) salad was one of the outstanding veg dishes. Chicken curry, avial, prawn fry, cabbage stir fry, rice and chapathis completed the meal. Dessert was the Ada payasam that followed us at every meal that we had in Kerala but I am not complaining because it has always been one of my favorites and I could indulge in it forever 😀
The houseboat experience ended after lunch and Arjun our boatman brought us back to the jetty where we disembarked and bid our crew adieu before setting out to our next destination, the Kumarakom Lake Resort.
A notable sight on my way out was this tiny little Japanese lady was sitting at the marina and sketching the houseboats of Kerala !!! (The pic was clicked with her consent).
Booking and Contact –
Rainbow cruises can be found at
Mamood Junction, Avalookunnu P.O
Alleppey, Kerala – 688006
Mobile: +91 9447444077, 9447444066
Tel: +91-477-2231110/ 22311111
E – Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
On this trip I was hosted by the Kerala Travel Mart Society and partnering hotels, as a media invitee and I thank them for the hospitality. My narration is based on the inputs I received from various sources as well as my personal experiences.
Sep 22nd-29th, 2018