Masala Cruises are rare but exceptional Indian-style groups on existing major Cruise Lines. Masala Cruises Inc. was formed in 1999 with its first sailing “Millennium Masala Cruise” on December 17, 1999. Since then, we have sailed nearly 15,000 guests in over 40 sailings, including Indian conventions and weddings. The owners, Sunil & Sandhya Thakkar, while vacationing with friends and family on several cruises felt a strong need for some Indian ambiance, music, entertainment, and of course Indian meal options. Thus was born the concept of Masala Cruises, Indian-style cruising on superior Cruise Lines with unique itineraries. The owners oversee each Masala Cruise, from selecting cruise lines and itineraries, booking guests & groups, designing entertainment & menus, and thus a fantastic Indian Style Vacation experience. The cruises are advertised throughout the US & Canada, so our guests will meet other like-minded NRI’s. Each guest is counseled for selection of cruise and cabin to meet their needs. We answer questions about the sailing and shore excursions. Guests are free to book their own shore excursions, flights, hotels, pre- and post-cruise trips. And then there is the cruise: guests are warmly greeted by our young, energetic Masala Crew right at the pier or right onboard at Check-In. From the first welcome meal to adventurous Indian breakfasts and lunches to multi-course Indian dinners (appetizers, curries, sabjis, dals, parathas, raita, basmati rice, dessert and chai) to delicious mainstream and international fare, you simply are in foodie paradise on a Masala Cruise. But the one thing our guests tell us they will never forget is the Indian Entertainment led by comedian and emcee Sunil Thakkar. We spend the entire year selecting and rehearsing the best artists from the US, UK, and India, to give our guests a personal, warm, and HOT performance, whether it is Bollywood Fever, Disco Dandia, Indian Stand Up Comedy, or Bollywood themed DJ parties. In addition there are a multitude of guest participation activities to meet a variety of people including Ice Breaker Games, Bollywood Dance Classes and Aerobics, Basketball Tournament, Karaoke Competition, Indians Got Talent, and Costume Contests. There is only thing you will really miss during a Masala Cruise, and that is....sleep! You can only participate in all the Indian Events and the Upgraded Indian Menus when you book through Masala Cruises, as only we can place you in the Masala Cruise group booking with the cruise lines. Our rates are higher than booking the same cruise through the Cruise Line directly, or through another travel agency, as our rates include the specially ordered Indian meals and entertainment. Book Now: Masala Cruises at (US) 866-3-MASALA, (outside US) 001-281-277-6874, firstname.lastname@example.org, or online http://www.masalacruises.com...and join the party!!
Masala Cruises have very limited sailings, 2-5, in any given year. The better the economy, the more the sailings. Check the home page for all available sailings. Masala Cruises has sailed on most major Cruise Lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Royal, and MSC Cruise Lines. Our goal is to select the most refreshing itineraries on with the state of the art ships mostly during Summer or Winter break, so that multi-generations can enjoy this unique Indian family vacation.
This is a unique Indian cruise experience with something for everyone in the family. About ½ of the group will be mature adults, mostly couples, between 30 and 55. About 1/4 will be young adults between 18 and 29. The rest are divided into young kids, teens, and a few senior citizens. All Masala events and activities are fun for all ages, except the Adult Comedy Game Show “Shaadi Ke Side Effects”, which is for 18 & older and contains tastefully delivered but mature subject comedy. The Cruise Line offer exciting camp activities for kids 2-17. Teen clubs and activities will make them disappear and reappear only to eat. The one comment we have heard every sailing is “this is the best family vacation we have ever had.” Kids and Teen particularly like to have a wide choice of American fare at all times, while Parents and Seniors loved the additional options of Upgraded Indian Menus. Again something for everyone at all times.
A cruise, particularly this Indian-style cruise, is the best way to have a relaxing family vacation. You can select everything in advance Cabin, Air Transfers and Vacation Protection, even Shore Excursions. We give you our Masala Events schedule and a list of What to Pack 30 days in advance as well. You have the ability to Check In with the Cruise Line in advance, so when you arrive with your Online Registration Complete printout, your room keys are ready! Your cruise adventure begins at the Cruise Terminal. First your drop off your luggage to a porter (keep valuables and medicines with you), show your printout and passport and get your Room Keys that also serves as your onboard charge card (linked to your credit card). Once you step onboard, your room and meals are completely taken care of 24 Hours a day. Room Service is mostly free (small charge for late night service) and available 24 hours a day with VEG and NONVEG snacks & beverages. You can eat in the formal dining room for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner at posted times, or eat at the Casual Dining almost all day. Casual Dining is cafeteria style with countless salads, appetizers, burgers, nachos, pizza, Chinese, and VEG and NONVEG entrees, and the most fabulous desserts! Special arrangements can be made for diabetic, low-salt, Vegan, Kosher, Vegetarian, Hindu Vegetarian, and Jain diets. Complimentary Main Dining Rooms serve 3-course Breakfasts Lunches and 5-course Dinners with exceptional service. Juice, Iced Tea, Milk, Coffee, Tea is available everywhere for no charge. Sodas and Alcoholic Beverages are an additional charge, but Unlimited Soda Cards can be purchased at any time. Reservation Only Specialty Dining for a nominal cover charge offers intimate dining experiences in high-end Mexican, Italian, Sushi and Steak cuisine. Your cabin is small but cozy, and cleaned 2-4 times a day! Every evening you receive a Cruise Line Itinerary for the next day including Kids Activities, Teen Activities, and Family Activities including crazy contests, ice carving and food prep demos, live band entertainment, Deck Parties, Broadway-style Production Shows, Ice-skating shows, and so much more! There are several Swimming Pools, Water Slides and Activities, Jacuzzis, Gym, Spa, Massage, Basketball, Volleyball, Surf Stimulator, and a Movie Theatre to give endless choices of how to spend your valuable vacation time. There is an enticing full serve Casino in operation 24/7 except in ports. You can have rooms close to your family or friends, and dine with them as well. At each destination, you can get take a shore excursion (additional charge), or catch a taxi to your choice of sightseeing, book local tour guides, or just walk around the pier teaming with shops, restaurants, beaches, parks, and more entertainment. Of course each person’s experience is unique!
Your Stateroom, Government Taxes and Port Charges are included. Your cozy Cabin (Stateroom) including minimum twice daily cleaning service. Also included is all casual and main dining room meals burgers and bistros, pizzeria, and mostly Complimentary 24-Hour Room Service (except small service fee between 12AM – 6AM) including milk, tea, iced tea, and juices. Cruise Line Entertainment is always complimentary. Finally, when you book through Masala Cruises, your Indian Entertainment and Upgraded Menus are also included?
Airfare, Air Transfers, Travel Protection, and Gratuities are not included, but you have an option to add on Pre-Paid Gratuities, or let the Cruise Line bill you onboard. Bottled Water, Sodas & Alcoholic Beverages, the Cruise Line’s Specialty Fine Dining Restaurants and National Brand Restaurants (Johnny Rockets, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s) are all not included. You are allowed to bring onboard your own Bottled Water and Sodas, but not your own Alcoholic Beverages (“if” Cruise Line finds it will be confiscated and returned at end of cruise). Additional onboard expenses are Portraits, Casino, Bingo & Gift Shop, Shore Excursions, Spa Services, Beauty Salon, Arcade Games.
All cabins come with 2 Twin Beds convertible to a King Bed for Guest 1 & 2, nightstands, clothes & luggage storage cabinets, dressing table and mirrors, standing shower & toilet, and full service room cleaning 2-4 times a day. Hairdryers are available in your room, however irons are not (so bring your own if necessary). Cabins are much smaller than hotel rooms due to limited space within a ship; typically 150 sq.ft. – 250 sq.ft. for Inside-OceanView-Balcony cabins, and 250-1000 sq.ft. for Suites. 3rd & 4th guests are given either 2 bunk beds or 1 bunk bed and 1 rollaway bed, which are setup out in the evening and packed up in the mornings. We recommend the 3rd & 4th beds only for short-medium height kinds 17 & under. We do not recommend 3rd & 4th beds for Teenagers, Tall children, Adults, and especially not for Seniors. It is initially attractive to save money by squeezing the entire family in one cabin, but we have experienced that the level of guest complaints, from delays in getting ready, cramped quarters, and lack of privacy to uncomfortable beds, far outweighs the savings. We will also suggest connecting cabins for families, even with small kids. We will not book seniors in 3rd & 4th beds, they are difficult to climb and maneuver.
There are 5 types of cabins available: Inside, Promenade, OceanView, OceanView with Balcony, and Suites. The least expensive cabin type is an INTERIOR cabin, which has no windows as it is built inside the ship. Slightly more expensive are the OCEANVIEW cabins, which have a non-openable, small (typically 4' x 5') window. PROMENADE cabins are often our favorite cabin category, as they offer views of the 3-store promenade with awesome people-watching. Sometimes people are more fascinating than the ocean. OCEANVIEW BALCONY cabins have approx. a 35-60 sq. ft. balcony with two chairs and small table, and floor-to-ceiling windows and glass sliding door. Balcony Cabins are much more expensive than Interior, but Masala Cruises highly recommends them for wonderful views and fresh air in the privacy of your own room. The most expensive category on the ship are the Suites, which is typically twice as large as the Interior-Balcony cabins, and usually have full tubs (instead of standing shower), as well as luxurious bedding and larger balconies. Each cabin type is located on different decks; the higher the deck, the slightly more expensive the cabin. Cabin selection is a purely personal choice. If you spend most of your time in activities, eating, and on shore excursions, then select the INTERIOR cabin. If you are claustrophobic, or enjoy late mornings, or are traveling with small kids, we recommend at least an ocean view. If you don’t vacation on cruises too often and want to experience the best accommodation, splurge on a Balcony or Suite, it is well worth it! As far as deck selection, it is commonly felt that a midship or higher deck affords less motion seasickness, and the lower decks have a bit more engine noise. Our entire crew has stayed at all levels of the ship, however, and we feel that once you have partied all day, it doesn’t really matter which deck; you will sleep like a baby. The higher decks do have a better view, and definitely easier access to the entertainment and dining decks. Whatever category you choose, it does not affect the quality of any Cruise Line or Indian amenities once you step out of your cabin. There is absolutely no opportunity to change or upgrade your cabin on board as all sailings are booked to capacity.
To gain access to the special Masala Cruises Indian Amenities (Indian Dining / Activities / Entertainment): Step 1: If you are comfortable and tech savvy, and know what category you want, register online by selecting the BOOK NOW option, which will transfer you to our travel agency online booking engine directly for the desired group. If you would like to get some quotes for various categories and ask questions, please feel free to first call us at 866-3-MASALA. Once you finalize your category and rate, you will be asked to go online and register (so the name / date of birth /contact details are registered accurately with us. This does not automatically book you on the cruise! Step 2: Once we receive notice of your registration, we will contact you to confirm your selection Once we go over the cabin selection, and you are ready to place the deposit, we will collect your credit card number by phone for the refundable Cruise Line deposit of $250 per person, and the non-refundable Masala Fee charge of $300pp for guests 1 & 2 (Adult 3rd & 4th guests 18 & over will be charged non-refundable Masala Fee of $150pp, and 3rd & 4th guests that are kids 17 & under will not be charged any Masala Fee). Once deposited, we will send you an invoice with the Cruise Line Reservation ID and Stateroom Number from our travel agency headquarters – Dream Vacations – which you must go online and confirm and then access. Note down the Cruise Line Reservation ID, Ship Name and Sail Date, pull out your passport, and next visit the Cruise Line website to complete Online Registration. Double Check the Cruise Line registration to make sure we entered all your names (spelling), birthdates, etc. correctly. Enter your passport information for each passenger, as well as one or more credit cards for charging your onboard expenses (this can be different from the credit card you used to make the deposit or balance payment), and answer all the cruise line questions about your travel plans. Once you have completed everything, your Registration Status will change to COMPLETE, and you can print out the Cruise Line “Ticket. No further documents or tickets will be mailed to you. Approx. 30 days before sailing, you will be able to further download your Luggage Tags. These Luggage Tags should be placed on the luggage after your arrive in the city of cruise embarkation, but before you arrive at the Port. While you are boarding the ship, your luggage is checked for security, and taken to your room between 3 and 6 PM. Keep your immediate personal items, valuables, and medicines with you while boarding.
There are different steps to follow in these different scenarios: 1) BOOKED with Cruise Line Directly & No Deposit or only Deposit Paid: If you have not paid deposit, or only paid just the deposit, you can contact us and giving us the Reservation ID and Stateroom Number, and call the Cruise Line and ask them to transfer your booking to the Agency Masala Cruises with Dream Vacations. We will monitor the booking and once it is transferred to our agency, we will contact you for the credit card information to charge the Masala Fee, and then move the booking to our group. 2) BOOKED with another travel agency, no deposit paid. Please contact the travel agency to send in a letter to the Cruise Line to transfer the agency on record to Masala Cruises with Dream Vacations. If the agency does not agree, ask them to cancel the booking, and we will re-book for you. If you have paid a deposit and will lose the deposit upon cancellation, and the agency does not agree to transfer the booking to us, we will contact the agency and work out how to transfer your booking to our group. You may owe a transfer fee in addition to the Masala Fee. If you have paid deposit, and will not lose the deposit upon cancellation, and the agency does not agree to transfer the booking, ask the agency to cancel the booking in writing, inform the cruise line, and we will re-book for you. If you must book with the Cruise Line to use points, then you will be charged an additional Transfer Fee in addition to the Masala Fee to join our group.
There are numerous promotions available by the Cruise Line. Most of these seeming great promotions will have a net rate that is higher than our group rates (when you add the Masala Fee to the promotions rate). When you book, we will go over with you all the current promotions, and will make sure you are booked at the very best available rate to the group. Many promotions are not available within the group, and we apologize for this policy by the Cruise Lines to give certain attractions to individual cabins, and not to the group. We hope, however, that the Indian Entertainment and Upgraded Menus is the better attraction that the glitzy promotion that may save a few dollars. Masala Cruises provides a significant discount for adults booked as 3rd and 4th guests in a cabin, and a waiver of the entire Masala Fee for 3rd and 4th guests 17 & younger.
Even if our rates are the same as the ones available directly from the Cruise Line or other agents, we offset the Indian Entertainment and Dining expenses with the surcharges and commissions built into our rates which are only available by booking by phone 866-3-MASALA, email email@example.com or web www.masalacruises.com. If you have already booked through RCCL, but not paid in full, you can transfer your booking by calling us. If you are using a complimentary cruise, call us for the additional fee required to join our group. Most legitimate discounts available through any other agency will be also be available through Masala Cruises. We will not be able to honor other agency’s “kickbacks” or the discounts they use from their commissions. Please note that we have security at the entrance of all of our events and private dining area for the Upgraded Indian Menus we design and pay for, and thus we strictly admit only our group members to our events and dining areas.
No - only those who have booked through Masala Cruises. Our Masala Cruise guests will receive special plastic wristbands to access our activities and our private dining room. You must keep your wristband on throughout the cruise. Wristbands are not available for purchase on the cruise, unless you have pre-booked to have one or more members of your cabin join the group onboard, as we sell to capacity in the private dining room and entertainment rooms.
Since we select different ships every year, capacities range from 2500 – 6000 total guests. Cruise Line Crew members add another 1500-3500 guests, so these indeed are mega ships, or really floating resorts. The Masala Cruise group size in any sailing depends on the demand for that itinerary and guests abilities to book before the deadlines or before the ship sells out. Masala Cruise groups range from 100 – 1400 passengers. Our Indian events and dining will be in separate areas, accessible to our group only (identified by wristbands), but our guests can access all the other areas of the ship and can always select from the Mainstream Menus.
If you do not regularly get motion sick from car or plane rides, you will not get seasick from these large and stabilized mega ships. If you are prone to motion sickness, you may feel the motion on the first day, until your body adjusts, and then complimentary Seasickness medicine Is available 24 hours on the ship. If you are normally prone to motion sickness, we recommend that you take one Bonine (it is non-drowsy unlike Dramamine) every morning. The Cruise Line makes every effort to avoid rain & wind storms to keep the ship as stable as possible, and 90% of guests say mostly forget they are on a moving ship.
You are in for a treat, because you have plenty of mainstream and Indian vegetarian options on this sailing. Every menu, whether breakfast/lunch or dinner, appetizer, salad or main course has continental vegetarian selections. In addition, at lunch and dinner, we have complete Indian vegetarian meals available (including Jain options). 24 hours you can order vegetarian items at room service or the pizzeria, and there are vegetarian burgers, soups, salads, and sandwiches available all day.
Masala Cruises regrets that most Cruise Lines do not offer Halal meat, but there are plenty of seafood and vegetarian options. We have noticed that sometimes, the dining rooms do accommodate Halal choices if there are enough Halal crew onboard, but it is not guaranteed.
We will send you a detailed WHAT TO PACK email at least 30 days prior to the sailing. This will be after the ship confirms all of our Masala Events and approves themes. For example if the White Bhangra Party is approved, we will include information to optionally pack a white evening party outfit. We encourage you to pack lightly to the weight limitations of the airlines you are traveling on. There is no luggage weight restrictions on the Cruise Line, however alcoholic beverages and live fruits and plants are not permitted to board the ship and will be confiscated at security. You will tag your luggage with the labels provided in your Cruise Documents, and drop them to the porters who will take them to your rooms. Bags are left outside your room so please lock them if you are concerned, and carry all valuables and medicines with you while boarding. The first night is casual and you can stay in whatever you boarded with. On the last night of the cruise, you need to have packed your large bags, labeled them with luggage tags provided in your room for Disembarkation, and leave them outside your room before 12 midnight. It is critical that you NEVER pack your passport, valuables and medicines in your luggage, either when boarding or getting off the ship. Your bags will be taken off the ship and collectable at the Pier. Porters are again available at the Pier to take your luggage to the Air Transfer bus, taxi, or your private vehicle. Generally, guests tip porters $1-$3 per bag.
All of our guests book their own flights, and half take a taxi from the Airport to the Cruise Terminal and back. Half of the guests prefer to book an Air Transfer, if they are arriving on the day of embarkation (the day everyone boards the ship and the cruise sails away) or leaving straight to the airport on disembarkation (the day the cruise returns and everyone leaves). The Air Transfer is an air-conditioned bus arranged by the cruise line, that fills up with passengers and then takes you to the Cruise Terminal. Many Guests take a taxi so they do not have to wait until the bus fills up, or find that the taxi for 4 guests is less expensive than a transfer, and then they have the flexibility to arrive the day prior or extend their stay. Your itinerary before and after the cruise is completely on your own; our cruise package starts at the Cruise Terminal. We encourage all guests to arrive the night before the cruise, so there is no chance of a missed flight, flight delay, or flight cancellation causing you to miss the cruise. If you do not reach the Cruise Port in time, speak with the Port Agent to see if there are any options of flying in to the next Port at your own expense. If you do not reach the cruise one hour prior to takeoff, and you have not purchased any Travel Protection, you will miss the cruise without any refunds.
When you are boarding, the Cruise Line will ask you for your credit card, and give an "on-board Sail & Sign card." When you buy things on board, your charges accumulate on the card, and then at the end of the cruise they are charged to your credit card. You can even withdraw a limited amount of cash per day to play at the casino from this ‘Sail & Sign” card. This card serves as your room key as well.
Please read the cancellation policy for each sailing, and the our cancellation policy varies with different Cruise Lines, Itineraries, and length of Sailings. The Masala Fee portion of any Masala Cruise is non-refundable at all times. Certain portions of your Cruise Line’s deposit and balance are refundable depending on when you cancel. We strongly recommend everyone to purchase the Cruise Line Travel Protection, often starting at just $59pp (rates fluctuate on categories), so that for covered emergencies such as sickness or death, or flight delay or cancellations (read coverage disclosure for exact policies) the Cruise Line fare is refunded. Most policies will give a high percentage of the Cruise Line Fare as a future cruise credit for uncovered reasons like “could not get out of work” or “had a family wedding come up.” Without purchasing the Travel Protection, there is limited, if any refunds on the Cruise Line fare, except the Government Taxes and Pre-Paid Gratuities. Most Cruise Lines allow you to change names of everyone in the cabin except for one original guest, or the cabin is considered cancelled. In other words, if you cannot go on the cruise, you can replace 1 of 2, 2 of 3, or 3 of 4 guests as long as one original guest remains in the cabin and sails.
We want this to be the best vacation of your life! So to make sure you have nothing to think about except having a good time, we recommend protecting the value of your vacation against unexpected emergencies by purchasing either the Cruise Line Travel Protection (which must be confirmed and booked by Final Payment Date) or Dream Vacations “LEISURECARE” which can be booked up to the day prior to the sailing. Coverage vary, so please check the INSURANCE tab on each sailing to get the exact coverage details.