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*What are Kerala house boats?
Present day houseboats are a reworked version of country boats that were used to transport materials in the past.Local eco friendly materials are used for the construction of these houseboats.Single bed room to ten bed room houseboats are presently available.Each of these has bed rooms with attached toilets,living room and dining room and a kitchen.some even have seperate dining room and balcony,upper deck,Glass wall etc.Usually 3 staff is present in house boats (captain,chef and driver).
* What are different types of house boats?
Mainly house boats comes in 2 categories namely Deluxe & Premium house boats.In deluxe house boats,AC will be operated only from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am while for premium houseboats AC will be operated round the clock.Luxury furnishing,Premium food menu,Candle lit dinner,Jacuzzi,Shower panel etc are provided in premium house boats by many providers. Some even arrange functions like weddings on houseboats.
*What type of cruise are available?
Day trip & Overnight stay are the two major cruises available.Check in time for day cruise are 10:00 to 11:00 am while check out is usually 5:00 to 5:30 pm.For overnight trip check in are usually 11:30 to 12:30 pm while check out is next day 9:00 to 9:30 am.All meals are served in houseboat.
*Which cruise should be selected?
There will not be any problem in any season if opting for a luxury house boat.However its better to avoid overnight stay in deluxe houseboats in monsoon season as there are chances of mosquitoes.
*What will be the itinerary?
For both day and over night cruise,the cruise time is usually 5 to 6 hrs.Over night cruise house boats will be anchored at shore of a backwater village at 5:30 pm till 8:00 am next day.cruise will be finished by 9:00 am
*What are various backwater routes?
Most popular back water for house boats cruise are Alapuzha and Kumarakom.There are house boats available in Kollam,Thrissur and Valiyaparambu in North Kerala.
*Which is preferred-Alapuzha or Kumarakom house boat?
The best to select will be Alapuzha-Kumarakom cruise which allows travelers to check in Kumarakom and check out at Alapuzha or vice verse at a nominal additional charge.By this cruise ,visitors can enjoy beauty of both back waters.most operators are providing this route.There are more number of houseboats options available in Alapuzha and cruise are done in narrow channels.While in kumarakom,you may have a glimpse of all luxury resorts and bird sanctuary while on cruise and can travel in less traffic.Heavy traffic is observed in Alapuzha route. The longest house boat cruise in Kerala,Alapuzha-Kollam may also be done
*What are the activities available?
TV and DVD players are available and its suggested to carry some DVD's and book with you since the available items are mostly in regional language.Some operators provide indoor games,fishing etc.When house boat is anchored at evening,its possible to do village visit,church & temple visit,visit to coir factory etc.Its also highly suggested to do a canoe ride and you may ask house boat staff to provide it.
*What menu are available?
Usually Kerala cuisine are provided.However you may request in advance for special menus like Vegetarian ,Jain ,Chinese,North Indian etc and most operators will provide it.Lunch,Evening snacks,Dinner and Breakfast are served for over night cruise while Lunch and Evening snacks are provided for day cruise.You may request for honey moon cake,candle lit dinner etc in advance.Visitors can buy fresh fishes like Jumbo prawns,Pearl spot(karee meen),Crabs etc directly from fisherman and chef will prepare it in houseboats.
*What are the tariffs?
October to February are tourist Season and charges are higher in this time..Maximum rate of houseboat are from Dec 20 to Jan 10 and charges can be even double as that of off season.Off peak tariffs which is the best available price are applicable from march to September. Premium.Premium house boats rates are couple of thousands more than that of standard ones.Also rates varies in a large extend between operators.Most of the good houseboats has higher charges than that of normal houseboats.Always do negotiation before fixing an operator.you may be required to pay around 25-50 % as advance.
*Should i pre book houseboats in advance?
Its recommended to pre book houseboats in Season time.Even though houseboats are found for spot booking in off season,reputed providers houseboats usually gets booked and its a good idea to book in advance if opting for reputed providers houseboat.There are tourist departments prepaid counter at Alapuzha and Kumarakom and visitors can book through them either on spot or in advance.Also travelers can check various houseboats directly on spot that are anchored at backwaters,negotiate with operators to get best price and select a house boat
*Is it safe to travel in houseboat?
It is completely safe even for a single women in houseboats.There is no need for any fear and houseboats crew are always available for any help.No need to worry about privacy in bedroom and toilets,all rooms are well secured and privacy is given top importance.Also all major safety precautions like life jacket,extinguishers etc are available in houseboats.houseboats. Travelers can contact 9846 300 100 (tourist police),0471-3243000 in case of any emergency.
*Why are there lots of complaints regarding houseboats ?
Most of the people complaint about houseboats that : For a 22 hr overnight cruise,there is hardly 6 hours cruise.According to Govt regulations,Houseboats are not allowed to move from 5:30 pm to morning to allow fishermans to work.Also problems of mosquitoes arise only for deluxe boats while for premium boats chances of mosquitoes are very less.For deluxe houseboats ac will be operated only from 9 pm to 6 am .To sum up,if opting for premium houseboats of reputed providers,most of problems are solved. Also take a look at the cheaper options below.
*What are other cheaper options to enjoy back waters?
During off season,houseboats can be rented on hourly basis.There is no need to book these services in advance and one can book it on spot.Most resorts arrange one or two hours evening/sunset cruises to all their guests free of costs.
Shikkara rides are available for approx rs 500/- hour and its an economical way to enjoy backwaters.Upto 10 people can travel for Rs 500. Also canoe ride is a cheaper option. If interested to travel with locals and also enjoy the backwaters ,there are ferry services between Kumarakom,Alapuzha and kollam and it cost just a few rupees for travelling.