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Cruises to Kochi (Cochin)

50 Reviews
Cochin (Photo:Vladimir Zhoga/Shutterstock)

About Kochi (Cochin)

A fascinating amalgam of Portuguese, Dutch, Jewish, Chinese and British cultures, Kochi (aka Cochin) was Portugal's first settlement in India after Vasco da Gama's discovery of India in 1498. A major port in the spice trade for centuries, it has India's oldest synagogue, oldest European-built church, Chinese-style fishing nets, colonial Portuguese and Dutch buildings, distinctive dance forms and a big Christian minority, including Syrian Christians (St. Thomas Christians) who believe their Hindu ancestors were converted by St. Thomas in the first century. Called the "Queen of the Arabian Sea," Kochi traded with Arabs, Romans, Jews and Phoenicians over 2,000 years ago. Portugal built a fort in the early 1500s, the Dutch conquered it in 1663, the British took over and ruled from 1791 to 1947.

Cochin is the second-biggest city in Kerala, a tropical state on India's southwest coast filled with coconut palms and backwaters, a tangle of lagoons, canals and lakes that can be traveled by houseboat past tiny villages and traditional ways of life. Kochi's tourist attractions are concentrated in the historic districts of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry on the peninsula, reached by ferry or motor vehicle from Willingdon Island, where cruise ships arrive. But, the excellent Kerala Folklore Museum is in the modern city, Ernakulam, on the mainland east of Willingdon Island. Fort Kochi is calm and sleepy, Mattancherry is more touristed and Ernakulam is hectic and crowded.

With the highest literacy rate in India (over 95 percent) and a strong emphasis on education with many schools, Kerala is considered one of India's most progressive states. One of the world's first freely elected Communist government was here in 1957.

South Indian food differs greatly from that at most U.S. Indian restaurants and resembles Southeast Asian food in its love of coconut milk and spices. There are many good restaurants, from fine dining to casual eateries. Some are in a few of India's top heritage hotels, inside colonial-style buildings crammed with Indian art and handicrafts.

  • More about Kochi (Cochin)

  • Why go to Kochi (Cochin)?

  • Kochi (Cochin) Cruise Port Facilities?

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Seabourn Encore
Seabourn Encore

30 Night
Arabia, India, Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam Holida...Details

122 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Dec 7, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Seven Seas Navigator
Seven Seas Navigator

21 Night
Southeast Asia CruiseDetails

281 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Dec 1, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Seven Seas Mariner
Seven Seas Mariner (Photo: Regent)

132 Night
132 Night World CruiseDetails

375 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Jan 6, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Viking Sky
Viking Sky

137 Night
137 Night Viking World CruiseDetails

1,088 Reviews
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Dec 20, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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15 Night
India & Sri Lanka VoyageDetails

794 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Azamara
Nov 20, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

120 Night
120 Night Viking World JourneysDetails

1,088 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Jan 6, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Africa CruiseDetails

329 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Nov 25, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Spice Route CruiseDetails

1,686 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Nov 29, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Far East CruiseDetails

13 Reviews
Leaving:Mumbai
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Feb 11, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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120 Night
120 Night Viking World JourneysDetails

57 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Jan 8, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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16 Night
Far East CruiseDetails

329 Reviews
Leaving:Mumbai
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Dec 20, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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33 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

329 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Nov 25, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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16 Night
Africa CruiseDetails

329 Reviews
Leaving:Seychelles
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Mar 25, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Far East CruiseDetails

13 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
May 5, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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20 Night
Southeast Asia CruiseDetails

301 Reviews
Leaving:Bangkok
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Apr 26, 2025
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Kochi (Cochin)

Why go to Kochi (Cochin)?

Pros:

History- (especially Jewish history), culture- and food-lovers will find lots to savor

Cons:

Tourist attractions in the historic districts require transit from the cruise terminal

Bottom Line:

European-influenced city melds cultures and lacks the chaos of other Indian cities

Kochi (Cochin) Cruise Port Facilities?

Cruise ships dock on Willingdon Island at Samudrika Cruise Passenger Facilitation Centre terminal or at nearby Ernakulam Wharf, both on the island's northeast tip. Decorated elephants and a band have been known to greet ships. The cruise terminal has a cafeteria and restrooms; the wharf has no facilities. Willingdon is between the peninsula, where the historic district is located, and the mainland. To reach Fort Kochi or Mattancherry, located on the peninsula west of Willingdon, or Ernakulam, the new city, on the mainland east of Willingdon, take a ferry, taxi or auto-rickshaw. You can see the nearby ferry pier from where your cruise ship arrives.

A Government of India Tourist Office is on Willingdon Island, near the Vivanta by Taj Malabar -- Cochin hotel. In Fort Kochi, a Tourist Desk Information Counter, a private tour company, offers many tours. Ask for the free brochure with a map and self-guided walking tour of Fort Kochi. In Ernakulam, a tourist desk by the ferry pier (also a private tour agency) offers full-day backwaters houseboat tours.

Good to Know?

A visa is required to visit India. Make sure your passport has four blank pages, though instructions say two blank pages are needed. Immigration clearance upon ship arrival is very thorough.

The swastikas you see in India are ancient religious symbols in the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions; the word is derived from Sanskrit. They face right or left, but aren't tilted, as in the Nazi appropriation of the symbol.

Getting Around?

By Ferry: Ferries to Fort Kochi from Willingdon Island take about 15 minutes (Mattancherry is five minutes more; the stop is between the Dutch Palace and the synagogue) and run every 20-30 minutes, from 6 a.m. to 9:10 p.m. It's a pleasant ride and a great way to see the unusual Chinese fishing nets that are the symbol of Kochi and colonial-style houses. Ferries to Ernakulam, the new city, from Willingdon Island run every 20 minutes, and similarly from Fort Kochi.

On Foot: You can't walk to Fort Kochi, Mattancherry or Ernakulam from Willingdon Island. But, it's a delightful half-hour walk from Fort Kochi to Mattancherry, after you arrive by ferry, taxi or auto-rickshaw. Walk on Bazaar Road from the ferry stop to pass many aromatic spice shops and warehouses.

By Taxi: Taxis and auto-rickshaws (three-wheeled open-sided motorized vehicles) are at the port gate, both inside and outside. But, the ferry to Fort Kochi or Mattancherry is faster, since the bridge that connects Willingdon Island with the peninsula is much further south, and traffic is hectic. Auto-rickshaws, which fit two people, are much cheaper than taxis, and the noisy, hot open-air ride, weaving in and out of traffic, can be exciting or scary, depending on your point of view. Both taxis and auto-rickshaws generally have meters, but drivers often don't turn them on, so agreeing on a price before entering is best. Take small bills; drivers generally don't have change. You can arrange inexpensive guided tours of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry that include shopping stops with the driver; feel free to haggle. Uber is in Kochi, uses cars only (no auto-rickshaws) and drivers take cash if you change your settings, if you want to avoid haggling.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The rupee is the form of currency in India. Paper money is in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 2,000. Torn, dirty or written-on paper money is rarely accepted. Take smaller bills, as merchants and drivers often don't have change. In Fort Kochi, a South India Bank ATM is a few blocks from the Chinese fishing nets, and two ATMs at Federal Bank and ICICI, plus UAE Exchange, are a few blocks further on Amravathi Road. Credit cards are accepted at bigger shops, restaurants and hotels. For current currency conversion rates, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.

Bargaining is expected, but the more upscale the shop, the less likely you are to succeed. Release your inner haggler.

Language?

English is widely spoken, since India is a former British colony. The official language of Kerala is Malayalam, which is nothing like Hindi and uses a different script.


Kochi (Cochin) Cruise Reviews
Visited the old Synagogue and the Mattancherry palace. Both well-worth seeing. Enjoyed riding in a tut-tut back to the ship.Read More
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davidh68
Easy to arrange own travel if you are just visiting Port Kochi. For a better look at the area you will need to travel further afield. Remember local currency needs to be changed at outlet just after immigration but Read More
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easyonthegas
We met some friends on the ship through the cruise critic forum who added us to their trip. It was a tuk tuk tour around the city and included a trip on the backwaters by a small motor boat. A good day out/Read More
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hopper4
Used a Taxi at the Port Terminal, no issues, cheap for the four of us. Pre arranged Tuk Tuk the 2nd day, taking us to the non tourist backwaters and some other sites. Good value.Read More
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aussie travel bird

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