Cruise into the lap of luxury with Antara on the Ganges
Of all the things we thought we will miss in this pandemic, a flight departure waiting lounge was the last thing on our mind and yet, here we are, waiting to get our hands on a boarding pass. Travelling has now been replaced by staycations and people are scrounging around looking for a suitable alternative to catch a breather without getting on a public mode of transport. We have frantically checked for hotel prices and we have meticulously planned the best way of making the most of these road trips but we haven’t really considered utilising the rivers for a glorious travel experience, till we met Antara Luxury River Cruises on the Ganges. A luxury vessel docked at Indenture Memorial jetty at the Kolkata Port Trust in Khidirpur, Antara is home to multiple vessels like Ganges Voyager I and II that define luxury in the truest possible way.
Catering to mostly foreign visitors in the past, Antara provided the best possible experience of exploring the countryside of Bengal by taking the waterway. Initially, Ganges Voyager would travel all the way to Varanasi but now, the route is limited, making the experience better curated and more personalised. Opening her doors to the city folks, Antara is a one-of-a-kind experience on the Ganga, where one doesn’t need to be a water baby to appreciate.
Each vessel has a capacity for 56 guests, with 28 state-of-the-art suites opening straight into the river. Whether you are docked in one place or you are travelling around on their chartered cruises, the serenity offered is unparalleled. And if you are planning on celebrating a grand milestone in life — think weddings, anniversaries and birthdays — one can even choose to book the entire vessel for their family and friends.
Antara Luxury Cruises was launched in September and has been well-received by luxury connoisseurs around the country. With wildlife enthusiast and expert Raj Singh at the helm of this project and Hemant Mediratta as co-founder bringing in hospitality experience of decades, these cruises come armed with plans of exploring many different routes and untouched places around the country. Needless to say, when you have a wildlife enthusiast who has cruised on almost all of the important rivers around the world, there is inevitably an environmental consciousness that gets associated with the business. The flameless vessels with their own water filtration system purify the river water to provide 24x7 service. Former senior vice president of The Oberoi Hotels, Mediratta has major plans of building Antara into one of the most exclusive and environmentally conscious and sustainable brands in the country.
“The intent is to grow and have multiple ships in multiple river routes of the country. River cruising is a slow form of travel, at a pace that is immersive and one is able to absorb the fineries of life. When you sail on our cruise, our intention is to try and make a difference to your life,” said Mediratta.
“I have travelled all the way on a country boat from Varanasi to Calcutta and this brand is born from these practical experiences of learning and unlearning to provide the best possible product to our visitors,” said chairman and founder Raj Singh.
The Ganges is now on the world map for river tourism as is the route of Calcutta-Dhaka-Guwahati so there couldn’t be a riper time to sow the seed of river cruising. With more ambitious and luxurious vessels in the plan, like the Gangavilaas, Antara Luxury River Cruises could change the way we take a vacation or even spend a night on the still waters.
t2 walked through Ganges Voyager II and gorged on lunch served at the beautiful restaurant with the Vidyasagar Setu for view.
Duration: 2 nights/3 days
Route: Calcutta — Kalna — Shantipur — Calcutta
Price: Rs 1,00,000-plus
MAYA ON THE GANGA
Duration: 3 nights/4days
Route: Calcutta — Kalna — Mayapur — Shantipur — Calcutta
Price: Rs 1,50,000-plus
Price: Rs 11,500-plus per night
With 28 suite-style rooms with attached bathrooms, sun deck, a bar that oozes old-world charm and a spa to boot, this luxury vessel is a dream on the river.
Every wall of the Ganges Voyager II is adorned by reproduced prints of Daniel Brothers’ paintings. The bar takes you back to the grand club-houses of the city with impeccable service available 24x7.
The in-house spa allows you to sneak a peek at the river in between your relaxing massages, which are available to patrons on demand.
With Burma teak flooring and furniture, a small seating area, a spacious bathroom and open French balconies, the rooms of Antara cruises define luxury on the move.
Their in-house dining feature follows a farm-to-table route often sourcing from the villages where they stop to explore, on the route. This authenticity only adds to their sustainable model of working.
All the rooms of the vessel come armed with a view like this if you choose to book it for an overnight stay!
The sun deck is the perfect place to curl up with a book and a glass of wine, with the stillness of the river for company. Need we say more?
Pictures: B. Halder