India’s first solar-powered cruise is to be launched soon this year in Alapuzza, Kerala. It is the country’s premier solar-powered cruise boat.
The initiative comes from the State Water Transport Department (SWTD), whose solar ferry Aditya in the Vaikom-Thavanakadavu route has proved to be a success.
As compared to expenses, Aditya incurs a rock-bottom energy expense of Rs 200 a day as against Rs 8,000 needed for diesel-powered ferries.
“The ₹3-crore cruise boat that can carry 100 passengers is under construction at a boatyard in Aroor and comes from the stable of the builders of Aditya. It will be rolled out in Alappuzha in December. The hybrid vessel will be powered by a motor that can source energy from solar panels, battery, and generator. Its battery will have 80 KWh (kilowatt hour) power backup, as compared to 50 KWh backup in Aditya,” says Shaji V. Nair, director of SWTD.
The vessel will have an air-conditioned lower deck and pushback seats. The upper deck, which is non-air conditioned, can be used for dining and to get a better view of the backwaters. Apart from regular cruise, the vessel would be ideal to host parties and conferences.
Considering the huge savings in energy expenses, the SWTD has also drawn up plans to introduce three sister vessels of Aditya by the end of the year. The SWTD is, in the meantime, readying to launch a sister vessel of its fast ferry Vega-120, which was launched in the Vaikom-Ernakulam-Fort Kochi route early this year.
The new ₹1.90-crore vessel will operate a trip each from Kottayam to Alappuzha and back during peak hours.
It will operate from Kumarakom to Alappuzha during the rest of the day, ferrying people between the two tourist destinations in 30 minutes. It takes about two hours to cover the distance by bus.
The department has also planned a water taxi service each in Ernakulam and Alappuzha. Each such vessel can carry 15 passengers, has a 400-horse power outboard engine, and can touch a speed of 26 km per hour. They will be available for tourists at an hourly rent.