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Port Review: Cochin, India

Joanna Hall

Also known as Kochi and "Queen of the Arabian Sea", Cochin is a cosmopolitan city boasting one of the finest natural harbours on the Arabian coast of India.


Cochin is located on the coast in the popular tourist state of Kerala, it’s a town with a distinct European feel, largely thanks to being inhabited at different stages in history by the Portuguese, Dutch, and English. Their influence on the town's architecture, including forts, palaces, museums, and old churches is evident today. Once the centre of the Indian spice trade, Cochin is geographically interesting as well as historic, as it straddles the Kerala backwaters. Thanks to a location near the equator, it enjoys a year round hot and humid climate, with monsoon rains between October and December.  

The Facts

Location: On the southwest coast of India, on the Arabian Sea.

Language: Hindi, Malayalam, and English is also spoken.

Currency: Indian rupee.

Docking/Anchoring: Ships dock at a dedicated cruise facility in the port on Willingdon Island, which is in an outer suburb of Cochin, and you’ll need to use transport to get to the centre of town.

Transport: There are usually plenty of taxis and tuk tuks available, or your ship may provide a shuttle. 

Don’t Miss

Visitors to the Port of Cochin will not want to miss a trip to Alappuzha, the main jumping off point for exploring Kerala’s famous Alleppey Backwaters. Called the "Venice of the East," the network of navigable backwaters contains more than 900 kilometres of serene waterways lined with palm groves and rice paddy fields. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about rustic life in Cochin. 

Take a tuk tuk tour of Fort Cochin if you’re feeling adventurous, and you can hire one to take you on a tour of the city’s famous fort. And while the drivers speak English, be prepared to flex your haggling muscles!

The Chinese fishing nets, called Cheenavala, and located at Fort Cochin, is a place where teams of local fishermen operate nets which are in the sea a short time. Visitors can buy the fresh catch and take it to a nearby street vendor who will cook it.

The Hill Palace is located around 10 kilometres from Cochin at Thripoonithura, and it was built in 1865 and it is a fine example of Kerala traditional architecture. The complex contains 49 buildings, with the heritage museum and its 11 galleries, and ethno-archaeological museums as the centrepieces. 

Best Photo Op

Undoubtedly one of the best is the Chinese fishing nets, which rock as counterweights, and are operated with hypnotic rhythm.


The best streets to shop for souvenirs and local handicrafts are Market Road, Marine Drive, and Princess Street. There is a bustling market scene with top picks to buy including cool trinkets, antiques, rosewood carvings, spices, jewellery and saris.

Food and Drink

Cochin has a wide variety of culinary options, with Keralite, South Indian, Chinese, and North Indian cuisine all available. If you like your food spicy, zesty, and peppery, you will love the local cuisine - it’s not called the “land of spices” for nothing! Many dishes are served on a banana leaf and include coconut and tamarind paste, and plenty of seafood thanks to its coastal location.

Pick of the Excursions

If you’re a first-time visitor with plenty of time in port, a city tour will get you around the major sights, including the pier, the lighthouse, and the Mattancherry Palace which dates back to 1555. City tours also often include a brief stop at some of the city markets, and include some of the scenic surrounding countryside which is home to migratory birds.

A tour which includes a boat trip of the Kerala backwaters is essential for most first-timers, however, and experience not to be missed.


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  1. Posted by on 6th Nov 2018 Verified Customer

    Cruises To India? 4 Star Review

    What cruises stop here? I want to go to Kerala but happily swap for a great cruise!

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