After a month in sea, Mumbai’s first cruise ships – Neverland and See Yah has finally reached India. Indian husband-wife duo Mridul Thirani and Shripriya Dalmia Thirani received the ships this week in the Mumbai Port after it set sail from Turkey. The ships will be Mumbai’s first ever floating restaurants which will also cruise between Gateway of India and Chowpatty.
Indian duo hurls the Indian tricolour over the Bosphorous
Internationally renowned journalist, photographer and urban nomad Kounteya Sinha breaks this news exclusively for Blackboard. We had earlier released the exclusive news of the floating restaurants in Blackboard.
After scouting across the globe, the Thiranis zeroed in on these two ships in Turkey each having a capacity to host 400 diners. In a proud moment, the duo hurled the Indian flag over the Bosphorous in Istanbul along with two of the ship’s original owners before it set sail for India.
History was made when the duo in the late 30s won the first ever bid to open restaurants on the Arabian Sea.
Both of them who are rank outsiders in the food and restaurant business beat industry honchos and swung the tide towards them by a demonstration of their sheer love for Mumbai and its waterfront.
It has been the idea of the senior minister in prime minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet – Nitin Gadkare to open up Mumbai’s Eastern Sea front and turn it into a Riviera similar to that in the Mediterranean or Western countries.
The Thiranis intend to open up the floating restaurants this year.
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”.
“The year 2017 has been a year of butterflies in my stomach. From wanting to open restaurants on the sea into bidding and winning the tender to finally seeing the ships arrive in Mumbai is seeing a dream come true. I am incredibly humbled that I can finally do something for the city I so love and call my second home,” Shripriya said.
Shripriya also intends to open the ships for fairy tale destination weddings.
“Water is a very auspicious space and perfect for Indian weddings. Many Indian families you will see now are travelling to sea side destinations for their weddings. Now they don’t have to travel too far. I have brought that fairy tale to their doors now. The two ships can be a perfect host – maybe one for the bride’s side and the other for the groom’s”.
Shripriya says 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),” she says.
She added “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, weddings or even a corporate get together will have an all new meaning with that view and an absolutely explosive gastronomic experience”.
Thirani’s ships will docked a few miles into the sea.
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.
Shripriya has chosen to name one ship inspired from the immortal story of Peter Pan and the phenomenon of never growing up.
“Neverland” will sail the Arabian Sea – along the coast of Mumbai from early 2018.
“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.
Thirani said “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”.
So what about the restaurants?
“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.
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.