Lifestyle & Travel

Jun 1, 2017

Gourmet Cruises

The Bhende family decided to innovate and, on last April, inaugurated the first floating hotel and restaurant of Mumbai, betting on luxury gourmet cruises aboard the AB Celestial. 

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The ship was imported from the United States of America and has a capacity for over 660 dinner guests on all its four decks, allowing a 360 degree view, not only over Mumbai, but also over the Arabic Sea.

This floating restaurant also includes a cafeteria service on its lower deck, open 24 hours a day, being that the meals are served on the first floor and the highest deck will be an open sky terrace for its high end clientele.

Launching the first cruise was not an easy task for Aishwarya Bhende, the owner who, given the straight Indian bureaucracy, had to gather 108 permits throughout three years amongst several organs of the administration to assure it could open for business.

On a statement on "The Hindu" newspaper, Bhende made it public that "during my travels, I've dined on several boats, especially in Sweden. I wanted to bring a similar experience to the city; moreover, Mumbai has a great coastline. So my family and I thought this was a great idea".

The boat combines fine dining with a hotel, so the guests can aboard overnight. The banquet hall on the second floor holds 100 guests; this space is aimed at group parties from corporate anniversaries to private parties and receptions, and one can also rent the whole boat for birthdays and business retreats.

The menu is international, an open objective with the purpose of making the guests feel like they are somewhere else. The seafood and the new European cuisine are the main choices and are handed by chef Navneet Yadav, who graduated on France.

To assure that everything was according to taste, the owner and her mother, a fashion designer, took over the décor. Both decorated everything, from the bathrooms to the furniture, selecting the paintings and the colour combination, nothing was left to chance, nautical themes and white and blue are predominant.

To preserve the ambience and the guest safety an enterprise of this size demands to satisfy its top notch clientele, reservations are mandatory, otherwise you will not be allowed to board the ship – and children under 12 are also vetoed.

The boat is docked on the opposite side of the bay that bathes the city of Mumbai, hence the unique view over the city straight from the Arabian Sea, region of the Indic Ocean bordered on the North by Pakistan and Iran, on the West by the Northwest of Somalia and by the Arabian Peninsula, and on the East by India.

Historically the Sea has been known by other names, such as the Eritrean Sea and the Persian Sea. Its total area is 3,862,000 square kilometres and its maximum depth is 4,652 metres. The Gulf of Aden is in the southwest, connecting the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea through the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Oman is in the northwest, connecting it to the Persian Gulf and, sometimes, it's possible to watch dolphins swim next to the boat. "Usually on the afternoon and sometimes at the sunset" assures the owner, "watching them swim so close is one of the best things any Mumbaian will ever see."

To prevent any incidents, the hotel-restaurant will remain close during three months out of the year, the time of the monsoon on Mumbai – between June and September – that allies torrential and almost permanent rain to a huge raise on humidity and very strong wind, which would certainly make the experience aboard less pleasant. The concept of combining fine dining and a luxury hotel on a boat where one can go on real gourmet degustation cruises was unheard off on Mumbai and, certainly, on many other locations on the world that already have a good touristic quotation.

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