On the Backwaters

Spice Coast Cruises

Spice Coast Cruises

, Kerala
, India

Welcome aboard Spice Coast Cruises for a memoir-inspiring journey through the backwaters of Kerala. It’s a journey along the Vembanad Lake on a Kettuvallam, which is a large traditional houseboat.

In Malayalam, ‘kettu’ means ‘to tie’ and ‘vallam’ means ‘boat’. The Kettuvallam is the most enchanting vehicle to explore the various facets of life along the backwaters.

You’ll be amazed to know that ‘Kettuvallams’ or Houseboats are handmade. They are made of huge planks of wood held together by thick coir ropes tied to knots. They are coated with fish oil and black resin made from boiled cashewnut shells. Back in the day, Kettuvallams were used to transport rice, spices and ferry people through the backwater canals. Steering the Kettuvallams are boatmen, who are specialists in navigating them along the backwater landscape through its every ripple, with ease.

Our Rating: Premium
Property Type: On Water


The villages along the Vembanad lake are a blend of one common element – charm! They reflect local customs, occupations and social standing of various groups that have chosen to make their home in and around this vast and wondrous lake. Your cruise is not all water, but a bit of land too. If you choose to stay for two nights or more, you can explore the villages on bicycles and savour the flavours of local life.

You’ll be amazed by the canvas you’ll ride past. Whether you choose to walk or cycle through any of these villages, you’ll celebrate this journey into a culture. The Vembanad lake is a habitat to different flora and fauna, with the backwaters being home to many birds. A lot of them can be seen at the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary on its eastern shore. As you cruise along the backwaters, you’ll see several species, both marine and non-marine, that are a mix of native and migrant. The backwaters have a unique ecosystem comprising a variety of species, all of which make the Vembanad lake a unique blanket of water. So on your trip in a Kettuvallam, get ready to be greeted by charming sights in the sky, with a mesmerizing view of the sunset from your houseboat, forming the backdrop.


Its bedroom cabins are cozy, comfortable spaces to relax in. So, while you have your privacy and are also protected from insects and the elements, you still stay connected to nature. The boats are air-conditioned (at night) and equipped with 1 or 2 ensuite bedrooms. The foredeck is a place to sit and enjoy a breezy, beautiful view of the landscape along the waters. As the boat sails, you’ll feel a mild sway in your sleep, with sounds of gentle lapping of water against the sides of your floating bedroom.


The most distinctive stand-outs of your on-boat meals will be freshness and flavour created by the members of the crew, who are also renowned for their culinary skills in regional cuisine.

Seafood is the mainstay of this menu, with the fish always caught fresh from the backwaters. Aside from Karimeen, do relish the lentils and gourd made authentic with fresh pepper and mustard seeds, served with greens handpicked from the markets that dot the canals on the cruise. All of these come accompanied with steaming bowls of rice.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)