Launched in October 2020, India’s first luxury water cruise, Antara, wants to tap into the wedding market; get brides and grooms to say ‘I do’ onboard its ships.
We all know about India’s obsession with a big, fat wedding. From beach homes to heritage bungalows and luxury hotels, historic forts and royal palaces, the wedding party is always looking for newer, luxurious places to tie the knot in. Offering another option to Indians now is Raj Singh, whose company offers wedding packages on luxurious cruises.
Raj Singh, Founder, Antara Luxury River Cruises speaks to LuxeBook about what the company, Heritage River Journeys, which launched Antara Cruises, in October last year, has to offer for anyone looking to tie the knot on a cruise liner.
Why is Antara Cruises catering to the wedding market?
Our ships are exclusive water palaces of the modern age. They not only glide along the holy Ganga, but also recall the great celebrations of emperors and the intimate romances of antiquity. Water has been such an essential quality in life, connecting directly to nature and mother Earth and amplifying the auspiciousness of any occasion. We wanted to share such ethereal celebrations (wedding) on flowing water, in luxurious environs to create incredible memories.
Which ships offer the wedding packages?
All our four boutique vessels Antara Ganges Voyager I, Antara Ganges Voyager Ganges II, Antara Nauka Vilas and Antara Ganga Vilas can curate bespoke wedding experiences that are intimate, luxurious, and unique only to you. With colonial-era wood furniture and hand-stencilled murals, the Ganges Voyager I takes you back in time. It accommodates 56 guests. The Ganges Voyager II is a spacious, high-ceilinged 28 suites serene sanctuary and each suite offers a cosy sitting area and a French balcony offers all the luxury that you can expect of a five-star hotel. It accommodates 56 to 60 guests. Antara Ganga Vilas that can accommodate 36 guests is slightly smaller with 18 tastefully adorned suites. She blends the cultural and modern amenities with minimalistic designs. Antara Nauka Vilas on the other hand is the epitome of luxury in river cruising. An elegant, 32-metre vessel with just one presidential suite on a wooden ship offers travellers the most exquisite experience of romance. It can accommodate two guests. One can decide to take our small design ships individually or all together.
On which sea route does the wedding cruise sail?
We have meticulously carved out long and short itineraries exploring some of the most beautiful and romantic destinations along the Ganges. Boarding from Kolkata, one can choose a long journey that takes you from Kolkata to Varanasi or pick our 3 or 4 nights’ journey that takes you from Kolkata to the stunning terracotta temples in Santipur; or sail from Kolkata to the French town of Chandernagore (near Hooghly district); or to the silk centre, Murshidabad (near Hooghly river) and visit the Neoclassical palace Hazarduari Palace. Along the way, there are various experiences that are curated — from visiting an ancient historical ghat town to docking for a private river bank dinner or an evening deep daan (biodegradable clay light).
What kind of response have you been getting for you new venture?
We have organised two wedding-related sailing events. While the first one was a pre-wedding event with an overnight stay, the second was a 3-night sailing programme with a blessing ceremony in the Jaleswar Shiv temple in Santipur (West Bengal).
Who is your target audience?
Our bespoke wedding charter offerings appeal to the well-heeled and evolved traveller who enjoys unique and enriching experiences. Intimate wedding or a milestone celebration, the entire ship can be chartered for approximately 11 lakh a night. Along with all the plush facilities and unique gastronomy experience, Antara’s bespoke hospitality services and a dedicated coordinator will ensure that the cruise customisation is one-of-a-kind, stress-free and fun.
What makes these luxe wedding cruises a hot choice for consumers?
When we sail, we can enjoy the experience of the changing surrounding beauty of the river in a carefree and intimate way. You won’t see any other ships unless two of our ships sail together, one for the groom’s family and one for the bride’s. To drop anchor mid-stream, join both ships together and enjoy the festivities of being in the open air on the river, to enjoy exchanging the ceremonies and festivities with the river as a backdrop, makes for a truly wondrous occasion.
What does the wedding package involve?
The packages include our all-suite accommodations: each room with floor to ceiling river views, special meals freshly prepared and served by our chefs in our dual aspect dining room, bespoke lighting and fresh flower decorations.
What are the amenities that the guests can avail of on the cruise?
We can arrange for musical programmes and entertainment on our sundeck, tea and snacks in our spacious indoor lounge, unique gastronomy for all meals, spa facilities and religious ceremonies.