As a fairly serious traveller, I dislike waterborne cities with too much mindless entertainment, huge casinos, too many bars, etc. Therefore the size of the 5,500-ton Ocean Odyssey was perfect for me and two weeks aboard in February proved a unique experience.
This holiday offered a feeling of real adventure without health and safety concerns. Having said that, I was really glad that, on forays inland by taxi and motor launch, I had the company of a couple of hard-bargaining fellow travellers.
The Ship Highlights
The cabins themselves are very small but, as a single occupant, this did not bother me. The food on board was excellent and we had a couple of fantastic buffets on deck when visiting the islands.
I was glad that I was advised that I could dine at whichever table because that was not made plain at first. But I hated the tipping system and found it demeaning both for travellers and staff. I liked all the staff and crew and I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures.
The girls who were doing the Ayurvedic massage were brilliant. The Ayurvedic Astrology offered is certainly interesting, if you like that sort of thing.
Although the ship would probably rate no more than three star, we were all agreed that this was one of the most memorable holidays that any of us had ever had.
The Cruise Highlights
Allepy and the backwaters will remain forever in my mind: the small launch ingeniously devised by the driver had three beautiful wicker chairs on to the viewing platform.
From this stately position we sailed back in time, it seemed, watching small children swimming near the banks. As well as the thatched houses, scrubbing stones (as the laundry is still done this way), houseboats, paddy fields and the famous long boats, we saw a party of nuns in full habit having a hilarious time in a large motor-launch.
However, the most surreal and delightful thing for me was a whole flotilla of domestic ducks which were meekly swimming in tight-packed formation (presumably moving from one field to another) under the supervision of two duck herdsmen, one on the bank and the other wading in the canal.
A meal with a difference!
Wildlife was abundant and photogenic, especially the egrets. Our taxi driver (who had been bargaining for most of the trip to the extent I wanted to push him into the canal) had also found the launch driver, an Allepy local, who, in his turn, had found a tiny thatched restaurant full of local fishermen and farmers.
In a specially reserved back room, we ate the freshest and most delicious fish from a large banana leaf. It was surrounded by dabs of vegetables and sauces, just like Nouvelle Cuisine. We suffered no gastric damage hygiene had prevailed!
The highlight of the trip, though, was visiting the Lakshadweep Islands. These beautiful uninhabited islands took my breath away and are home to a large number of sea turtles. From the zodiacs, we were even able to swim with dolphins.
The shore on one island had hermit crabs living in shells of every size and description, and the coral reefs were very much alive for divers. Fish of every shape and colour abounded, while the sea was an iridescent, pearly blue and the sunsets over the sea were unbelievably beautiful.
I am so glad I went to Sri Lanka, albeit on a coach and with a guide. The wonderful cone-shaped mountains, the dense woodland, the Elephant Sanctuary and the waterfalls were an inspiration.
In the Temple of the Golden Tooth, my best memory is of the complete reverence of all the pilgrims, sitting silently on the ground nearest to their sacred (invisible) relic.
Margaret Jolly –Ocean Odyssey
The perfect size ship, with a real sense of adventure