The clock is ticking and is less than 100 days, Mumbai will get its first ever series of floating restaurants.

What’s even better, it will be a place you will never grow up.

The immortal story of Peter Pan and the phenomenon of never growing up, has inspired the christening of Mumbai’s first ever cruise ship, says Kounteya Sinha.

“Neverland” will sail the Arabian Sea – along the coast of Mumbai from early 2018

Interestingly, the cruise ships will also have Mumbai’s first ever floating restaurants.

Passengers will be picked up from designated points across Mumbai’s coastline and taken on board the ship for an “unparalleled dining session coupled with a cruise that would allow people to see the city from the water”.

According to the owner of the ships – young entrepreneur Shripriya Dalmia Thirani, who is just in her late 30s, the cruise will ply between Mumbai’s iconic Gateway of India and the world famous Chowpatty beach.

Mumbai floating restaurants
Shripriya Dalmia Thirani. Photo courtesy: Kounteya Sinha

She says that India’s food industry is reeling under a wave of experiential dining. It isn’t just the sight of the food that is turning us on – what we hear, smell and touch, adding and deciding on a fair meal as against a spectacular one.

In recent years, a growing number of studies have shown that taste can be influenced by a host of surprising factors, one of which being environment (where you eat) and memory (what you take back).

Mumbai floating restaurants
Gateway of India, Mumbai. Photo credits: Koshy Koshy (Flickr)

Thirani said: “The floating restaurants will not just whip up the best food money can offer but also bring with the sounds of waves lapping against the shore and a view of Mumbai’s enviable skyline to blow our senses. Celebration, a quiet family time or even a corporate get together will have an all new meaning with that view and an absolutely explosive gastronomic experience. The benefits of hosting a restaurant on a boat docked around the circumference of Mumbai are plenty, both for locals and tourists alike”.

Thirani’s ships will docked a few miles into the sea.

Mumbai floating restaurants
Shripriya Dalmia Thirani. Photo courtesy: Kounteya Sinha

Diners and those coming on to enjoy a cruise will be taken on small boats giving them a real feel of sailing on the sea.

“Food is central to the DNA of India. Demographically, it is also one of the youngest markets with more than 45% of the population below the age of 25 years. The psychographic profiling of India’s youth confirms that they are very liberal, enjoy experimentation and greater consumption. Eating out is a habit and not an occasion driven activity. The rise of eating out economy has propelled the restaurant industry to $48 billion, according to a report by the National Restaurant Association of India,” said Thirani.

Interestingly Mumbai is the tourism hub of India which boasts of over 55 million domestic visitors and 5.10 million international visitors annually. Over 15 million people inhabit the city. Mumbai houses over 500 restaurants. But till now, not a single restaurant has been on the Arabian sea.

Photo courtesy: Blackboard

Thirani further added: “Imagine a classic Turkish vessel standing majestically off the coast near Gateway of India and Chowpatty. Adding to the historic view and a delectable feast, this vessel will have an international feel to it from the outside and have the warmth of an Indian embrace from the inside. A meal ceases to be just a meal then. What it ends up becoming is a feast for all our senses”.

Peter Pan is a fictional character created by Scottish novelist J M Berrie. Neverland was Peter Pan’s home. He refused to grow up and hence Neverland is often used as a metaphor for eternal childhood and escapism.

Revealing why she chose Neverland as a name for Mumbai’s first such experience on water, Thirani said: “I believe that we now belong to the Peter Pan generation – the one that never wants to grow up. I have always been fascinated by the character and the philosophy that comes with it. I have believed that age is a misnomer. Inside every person is a younger one dying to be let free. I want my ship to bring out the child in every one of us. My cruise ship will not only give people a chance to sail the majestic Arabian Sea but will also open up a brand new world where one can watch a movie on board to check out the glistening stars through a powerful telescope”.

Photo courtesy: Blackboard

“I’m sure you are familiar with the story of Peter Pan, in which it says, ‘the moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it’. These words also helped me pitch for such a large venture when I have no experience in shipping or cruises. I love the sea – it is my place of endless fairy tales. I wanted people to enjoy the sea in Mumbai like never before and hence I decided to introduce the first very cruise ship. Peter Pan’s words give me courage. The ship’s deck will be my Neverland,” she added.

So what about the restaurants?

Food talk - Radisson Blu Dwarka
Photo courtesy: Blackboard

“I have plans of tie ups with some of the world’s top chains and chefs. Indians will no more have to spend lakhs flying to other countries to try out cuisines made by chefs who are like Gods of the kitchen. Instead, I intend to get the world’s top chefs to cook in our backyard. I will have multiple restaurants in multiple levels of the vessel catering various cuisines – both international and local. It will be an eclectic mix of high end fine dining and casual. The food will be of the highest quality and the chefs preparing them will be the world’s finest artists,” she added.

According to her, people in Mumbai love going out and experiencing new cuisines. This makes her confident that they will embrace the floating restaurants with tremendous warmth.

vegan food
Rustic Olive bread for staffies. PC: Nivi Das

It is India’s richest city with total wealth of $820 billion. Mumbai is home to 46,000 millionaires, 28 billionaires compared to 23,000 millionaires, 18 billionaires in Delhi and 7,700 millionaires, 8 billionaires in Bengaluru.

“Mumbai’s coastline with the impressive city scape can give a lot of global sea side cities a run for its money. I am certain that once the restaurant begins to operate, lots of new businesses will come up around the sea. Dining on the water will then become a must do for everyone just like it is for tourists who go to Monte Carlo or the French Riviera. I envisage that the ship will open its doors by early 2018. Pre booking will begin in November. The demand for seats is already shooting through the roof with people asking us personally from now itself on how they can book a table,” according to Thirani who is a mother of three, an alumni from The Indian Institute of Learning and Management which is affiliated to the University of Bradford and an MBA from Symbiosis Pune.

Kounteya Sinha is the former London based journalist of The Times of India. He is a renowned globetrotter, author and urban nomad. He is currently based in Calcutta.