1. Travel

The ultimate guide for Mandovi river cruises

Disclaimer: This is a user generated content submitted by a member of the WriteUpCafe Community. The views and writings here reflect that of the author and not of WriteUpCafe. If you have any complaints regarding this post kindly report it to us.



The Mandovi River, located in the Indian state of Goa, offers some of the most scenic and enjoyable river cruises in the country. Winding through lush green forests, quaint villages, and past imposing Portuguese-era monuments, a cruise on the Mandovi is a great way to experience the natural and cultural beauty of Goa. With an increasing number of cruise operators offering a variety of cruise options, here is the ultimate guide to help you plan the perfect Mandovi river cruise.


Choosing a Cruise Operator  

With cruises being a popular activity in Goa, there are a number of operators offering Mandovi river cruises. When choosing a cruise operator, consider factors like the type of cruise, route, duration, facilities on board, food options, entertainment, crowd capacity and price. Some popular cruise operators include GTDC, Santa Monica, Paradise Cruises, Neptune Cruises and Maharaja Cruises. GTDC provides basic sunset and dinner cruises whereas Santa Monica, Paradise and Neptune offer multi-deck cruises with DJ parties and entertainment. For a more serene experience, go for Maharaja Cruises. 


Best Time for a Mandovi Cruise

The winter months from October to February are the best time for a Mandovi cruise when the weather is pleasantly cool. Summer tends to be hot and humid. The monsoon months of June to September offer an enchanting experience of cruising through swelling green waters under overcast skies, but be prepared to get wet from splashes. If you want to sail during sunset, take an evening cruise.


Types of Cruises

Sunset Cruise (1-1.5 hours): The most popular option, sailing during sunset with breathtaking views of the sun dipping into the Mandovi river. Includes light refreshments.


Dinner Cruise (2-3 hours): A relaxed sit-down dinner is served on board as you enjoy the sights along the river. Choose from vegetarian or non-vegetarian set menus.


Day Cruise: Multi-deck cruises departing in the morning and sailing for 5-8 hours with DJ parties, entertainment like dancing and singing, buffet lunch and unlimited drinks. Ideal for big groups.


Private Charter: Hire the entire boat for special celebrations or corporate events. Choose from venue, menu, entertainment, decor and timing.


Backwater Cruise: A 3-4 hour cruise downstream into the backwaters of old Goa with fishing villages and birdlife. Includes lavish buffet lunch and cultural show.


Routes and Sightseeing

The most common route is from Santa Monica jetty in Panaji to Old Goa, taking you past scenic riverside landmarks. Sail downstream with stops at Reis Magos Fort and Old Goa. On your way back, admire Panaji’s waterfront and the lively Mandovi bridge. Other routes head upstream towards Divar and Chorao islands. Gaze upon Old Goa’s Basilica of Bom Jesus, churches, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, mangroves and migratory birds like kingfishers. 


Facilities on Board

– Multi-level decks with seating in the lower, AC section or upper open-air section for the breeze. First-come-first basis.

– Central dance floors for performances. Some boats have shower facilities.  

– Snack counters and fully-stocked bars serving beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks and water.

– On dinner cruises, spacious dining areas offer multi-cuisine buffets. 

– Safety equipment like life jackets and fire extinguishers. Anchors dropped mid-river during dinner.

– Commentary about the history and landmarks. Some boats have glass floors to view marine life.


Food and Entertainment

A Mandovi cruise lets you soak in Goa's festive atmosphere with live music, dance and entertainment:

– Talented local bands belt out foot-tapping music – from pop hits, rock, trance, Bollywood, Konkani and Goan songs.  

– On bigger boats, professional dancers perform shows like the traditional lamp dance.

– Singers showcase their vocals with karaoke sessions – you can take the mike too!

– Standup comedy, fitness contests and fun games get you in holiday spirits.

– On dinner cruises, relish unlimited drinks and lavish buffets with Goan, North Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines. Seafood lovers can savor local delicacies like kingfish and prawn dishes. Vegetarian thalis and Jain menus are available too.


What to Wear and Bring

Dress comfortably for the weather. In summer, light cottons and breathable fabrics work best. Carry a light sweater or jacket for the breeze during sunset cruises. The upper deck may get wet during the monsoons – wear waterproof clothing and shoes. Apply sunscreen and wear a sunhat during the day. Evening cruises tend to have loud music, so carry earplugs if loud noise bothers you. Photography enthusiasts should obviously carry their cameras!  


Crowd Capacity

Cruise capacity ranges from 50-750 people depending on the boat size. Larger boats naturally accommodate bigger groups but can get crowded and noisy. For a more exclusive experience, try a private charter or opt for smaller cruises with just 50-100 people. Check for availability and book well in advance during peak seasons.


Families with Kids or Senior Citizens

Several operators like GTDC and Maharaja Cruises offer kid-friendly and senior-friendly cruises during the day with gentler entertainment, activities, music and food options suitable for children and the elderly. However, parents should supervise children near railings and stairs. Wheelchair access is limited so check beforehand.


Price and Booking Tips

– Sunset cruises start at ₹500 per person for 1-1.5 hours. Dinner cruises cost ₹1200-2000 per person. Prices vary for day cruises and backwater cruises. 

– Book online directly from operator websites for deals. Walk-in options are available too.

– For big groups, contact cruise operators directly for bulk booking discounts.

– Make bookings 1-2 months in advance for popular weekend slots. Opt for weekdays to save money.

– Private charters will be significantly more expensive depending on customization.

– Carry cash for any incidental on-board expenses.


Other Tips for an Enjoyable Experience

– Reach at least 15-20 minutes before departure time for boarding formalities. 

– Seats near the stage or dance floor allow you to be in the thick of the action.

– The upper deck offers better views but can get crowded during sunset. Arrive early to grab railings spots.

– Avoid sitting too close to loudspeakers. The music can get uncomfortably loud at times.

– Use washrooms before or after cruising since onboard washrooms may be crowded.

– Drink responsibly; do not indulge in rowdy behavior which can spoil others' experience. 

– Dress code is casual but avoid revealing clothing and beachwear.

– Consumption of outside food and drinks is not allowed on board.  


Safety Tips

While Mandovi cruises have good safety standards, it is important to follow basic precautions:

– Remain seated when the boat is in motion and avoid sudden movements. 

– Supervise children carefully near railings and stairs. 

– Do not carry any sharp objects, arms or illegal substances.

– Don't lean over railings and keep arms/legs within the boat.

– Avoid getting too close to the river bank and touching the water.

– Co-operate with the crew and follow instructions for a smooth experience.

– Seek medical assistance from the crew if you experience motion sickness.

– In case of emergencies like fire, stay calm and proceed orderly to designated exits




A cruise along Goa's iconic Mandovi River offers the perfect mix of natural scenery, history, culture, entertainment and dining. Choose from a range of options depending on your interests and time constraints. Follow these tips to pick the ideal cruise package, time your visit, make bookings, and enjoy a memorable time aboard with family and friends!. With this detailed guide, you can now easily choose and plan for a fun and safe Mandovi river cruise experience.


Welcome to WriteUpCafe Community

Join our community to engage with fellow bloggers and increase the visibility of your blog.
Join WriteUpCafe