Cruise the subcontinent: get to know the ports of India & Sri Lanka

In the magical form of India and Sri Lanka, you have two of the world's most fascinating travel destinations. This region offers an impossible-to-ignore assault on all of the senses and never fails to thrill, beguile or enthral.

Sinquerim Beach, Goa © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH - Alamy Stock Photo
Sinquerim Beach, Goa © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH - Alamy Stock Photo

Life is lived large and bright in this part of the world and each port of call offers myriad rich and colourful sounds, sights, aromas and flavours. Here you will waft through spice-filled markets, drift through incense smoked temples and have the chance to learn all about the history of this intriguing region.

Getting to India and Sri Lanka: hop aboard a Marella Cruises ship to experience the very best of the Indian subcontinent. Check out the latest deals on cruises to this part of Asia* in 2020/2021 today.

Each port offers something different but always deeply rewarding. So take a deep breath, open your mind and hurl yourself into the glorious world of cruising in India and Sri Lanka.

Mumbai, India

The intriguing old city of Bombay is one of Asia's most mystical and has been eulogised as the 'Gateway to India'. It offers a brilliant introduction to India as the new shiny face of the country is on show as well as lashings of the old British colonial-era India that brought the city many of its most charming historical buildings.

Intricate architecture of the old Victoria Terminus railway station, Mumbai © Ondřej Žváček - Wikimedia Commons
Intricate architecture of the old Victoria Terminus railway station, Mumbai © Ondřej Žváček - Wikimedia Commons

You can explore the colonial legacies by taking tea street-side, chai-wallah style, and checking out the Rajabai Clock Tower, designed by an English architect with London's Big Ben as an influence.

Shopping is one of the city's favourite pastimes - head to Fashion Street for local brands mixed in with big international names and then, for vintage, dip into the Chor Bazaar. Guided tours of the markets can be booked onboard.

This cosmopolitan hub is a fun city, too, with its famous rooftop bars a great way to get above the hectic streets and grab a breather. Mumbai* is not a city you'll forget in a hurry.

Weather in Mumbai

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Mormugao (Goa), India

The ex-Portuguese colony of Goa* remains the quintessential Indian beach destination. Mention India and beaches and most people will immediately think of the Goa region. It boasts plenty more faces, though.

Delicious curry lunch on the beach in Goa © Demphoto - Fotolia.com
Delicious curry lunch on the beach in Goa © Demphoto - Fotolia.com

Yes, today it's a fully-fledged beach destination with all the glitzy hotels and resorts you would expect to make full use of those glorious beaches. But it also still clings to the tantalising vestiges of its hippy past in the 1960s and 1970s.

There's also the intriguing legacy of Portuguese colonial rule, four centuries of which are beautifully reflected in the architecture, plus layers of various Indian civilisations and rulers. You shouldn't miss a trip to UNESCO-listed Old Goa.

This is a port of call where you could choose to just laze all day on the beach, but drift off it and there are temples and markets to explore so why not at least do both? Food is a real highlight too - vindaloo is reputed to have been invented here and the ubiquitous fish curry is a thing of real beauty.

Weather in Mormugao

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Mangalore, India

This Indian port of call's charms are manifest - as you cruise in you will see a sprinkling of tempting sandy beaches where watersports, boat trips and lotus-eating tempt.

Mangalore* is far more than a gateway to the wider region. Relax on those beaches and explore the 230-year-old Sultan Battery, which was built to ward off seaborne invaders, plus explore a rich collage of temples and places of worship.

A trip booked aboard will take you to the historic Gokarnanatheshwara Temple in the Kudroli district of Mangalore, which is bedecked with gold statues, before heading into the hills to visit the much older Kadri Manjunath Temple, which houses some of the oldest artefacts in southern India.

The tour culminates at St Aloysius Chapel on Lighthouse Hill, with its stunning frescoes. Push further and you will find the banks of the Gurupura River are evocatively lined with coconut trees as it flows up from the Arabian Sea south of Mangalore into the Western Ghats mountain range, where UNESCO World Heritage-listed treasures await.

Weather in Mangalore

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Cochin, India

It's into sultry Kerala in India's deep south now to enjoy the charms of the Kerala region. Cochin* (also known as Kochi) is far more than just one of the country's largest ports. The setting in itself in the Lake of Kochi at the head of a grand estuary on Willingdon Island is beguiling with ferries a popular way of getting around.

Orange-headed thrush in bird sanctuary near Cochin © Koshy Koshy - Flickr Creative Commons
Orange-headed thrush in bird sanctuary near Cochin © Koshy Koshy - Flickr Creative Commons

It's a charmingly eclectic city as the indigenous influences are spliced with vibrant Portuguese, Dutch, British and Chinese touches. The varied culture here can be explored in the city's artisan cafés and galleries.

The Mattancherry Palace was originally gifted from Portugal to the King of Cochin. Today it has morphed into a gallery awash with portraits and striking murals. Fort Emmanuel awaits as an evocative legacy of Portuguese rule with a beach handily here to laze on, too.

For a slice of the local flora and fauna retreat to the Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary on the shores of Ernakulam City, where the exotic birdlife includes brahminy kites, redshanks and marsh sandpipers. Look out for Eurasian otters and Indian flying-foxes too. Guided tours into traditional villages in the hinterland can be booked aboard.

Weather in Cochin

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan capital is one of the great old colonial port cities. Today the charming legacies of the days when the British (and the Portuguese and Dutch) Empire's ships sailed around the southern fringes of the Indian subcontinent via Colombo* still ripple through a city rich in colonial-era architecture.

Colombo is also at the heart of the dynamic nation of Sri Lanka, which has been making its way up the tourist charts. Cruise in and you are greeted by a striking mix of glitzy skyscrapers and graceful colonial buildings.

Old meets new in Colombo - the old Parliament building © Evgeniy Fesenko - Dreamstime.com
Old meets new in Colombo - the old Parliament building © Evgeniy Fesenko - Dreamstime.com

It's the same experience walking the atmospheric streets (walking tours can be booked aboard) where glass and steel modernity rub shoulders with three-wheeled taxis, street vendors and Buddhist monks.

The Fort District, where the Dutch and the Portuguese built their forts, remains the hub of city life with a distinctly colonial feel. Check out the famous clock tower, the President's House and a smattering of colonial-era buildings. Nearby lies the vibrant Pettah bazaar.

The National Museum sets the historic scene, while the National Art Gallery delves into the cultured side of this fascinating island nation. Sri Lanka is these days famous for beach holidays and beaches lie within easy reach to the south.

Weather in Colombo

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

Planning your cruise in southern Asia? If you're tempted to experience everything is enchanting part of the world has to offer, check out the latest offers and itineraries from Marella Cruises for 2020/20201 to ensure you get there in style.

Cruise finderCruise finder

More about Southern Asia

  • Top deals & discounts
  • Southern Asia weather overview
  • Southern Asia climate averages by month
  • More destinations
  • Best time to go to Southern Asia
  • Southern Asia 5-day weather forecast

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie
Posted on Friday 23rd August 2019 in: Asia City Cruises Culture Indian Ocean

Related posts

Back to Blog Top ^

*affiliate links: find out how we are funded and why this helps us remain free to use.