Chennai cruises

Chennai, the capital of the Tamil Nadu state is the gateway to Southern India. As the sixth-largest city in the country, there is no doubting the character and significance of this fascinating city. Your cruise to Chennai will lead you to see a unique viewpoint of India, providing an insight into a distinct local culture amid one of the world’s fastest growing cities. While hustle and bustle may jump to the forefront of your mind, it is easy to find a place to relax and unwind in the city, especially along the expansive beachfront.

The ‘Gateway to South India’

Chennai as it is known today was founded as Madras by the British East India Trading Company in 1639 where they developed one of their first Indian outposts. The British built Fort St. George, completed in 1640 which today houses the legislative assembly, and around it the first English settlement in India was formed.

Madras grew around the fort, and with connections to Bombay and Calcutta formed through the British railway developments, the city became a centre for trade. When India gained its independence in 1947, the city began to form a new identity, and in 1996 the city was renamed Chennai.

Discover Chennai

Your Chennai cruise will reveal the entry to India’s south, a region with its own individual identity and culture. The Tamil tradition rules here, from clothing and dance to architecture and art. The cuisine is also specific to the region, flavoured by a range of spices and using rice as the basis of many dishes. The spicy Chettinad cuisine is arguably the most famous, with Chettinad pepper chicken a favourite of the locals.

It makes sense to begin your exploring where the city’s own journey began, in George Town. This vibrant and chaotic area of the city resembles the seed from which Chennai grew. One of the best ways to discover the area is through a guided heritage walk where you will learn about the city’s vastly significant history and heritage.

The historical sites in Chennai are not confined to the George Town area. There are a number of impressive monuments, colourful temples and grand churches located throughout the city. Sri Ramakrishna Math, also known as the Universal Temple, is one of the most impressive temples, while the likes of the Karaneeswarar Temple and Kapaleeswarar Temple, the city’s oldest and best known religious complex, are also unmissable attractions.

Only three churches in the world are built upon the tomb of an Apostle of Jesus Christ, one of which can be discovered at Chennai. The stunning Basilica of the National Shrine of St Thomas was built upon St Thomas' tomb and since its 2004 restoration it has become one of the most impressive churches in India. You could also take the opportunity to visit St Mary’s Church, recognised as one of the oldest surviving churches built by the British in India.

After absorbing the many temples, churches, monuments and museums, a little rest and relaxation is in order. There is no better place to spend this than along one of the world’s longest city beachfronts. Head to Marina Beach for seven mile long sands or Edward Elliot’s Beach for a quieter, more sedate atmosphere on the sands of Chennai.

Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • Radisson Blu Resort

    Enjoy some time to relax at the Radisson Blu Resort, Temple Bay.

    Radisson Blu Resort

    The Radisson Blu Resort, Temple Bay is located off of the east coast road in Mahabalipuram, a two hour drive from Chennai. It’s the perfect place for those who just want to unwind. Upon arrival, enjoy a welcome refreshment before settling down on a sunchair for some leisure time. During your stay, you can relax and sunbathe around the hotel pool and perhaps take a refreshing dip, or simply explore the hotel grounds. A delicious local style buffet luncheon is included.

    BEACH/WATER RELATED EXCURSIONS
    For any excursion involving water, guests are reminded to exercise particular care. Alcohol and eating a full meal should be avoided before swimming. If buoyancy aids are provided for an activity they must be worn at all times. You should bear in mind that the sea is unpredictable. Lifeguards are unlikely to be present and there may not be a flag system to indicate whether or not it is safe to go in the water. In addition, beach activities may not be supervised or accompanied and so you should take care to satisfy yourself as to the safety of the beach and/or the sea at the time of your excursion. Please exercise caution when entering the sea as the seabed and aquatic environment is capable of springing surprises and we have not inspected the beach or seabed for its safety. Children must be supervised by you at all times near water. All activities on the beach, water and in the sea are undertaken at your own risk. You’ll need to take swimwear, a towel, sunscreen and flat shoes that can be worn in the water.

    LIABILITY
    Cunard will arrange for the excursions to be performed by the relevant excursion provider. Cunard does not provide or supply the excursion services. Cunard will exercise reasonable care and skill in the selection of the excursion provider, but will not in any circumstances have a greater liability than the excursion supplier and Cunard shall not be responsible for the negligent acts/omissions of the excursion supplier. Please note that in relation to all excursions Cunard is not responsible or liable for any loss, damage, or injury sustained by you unless such loss, damage or injury arises out of a breach of legal duty of Cunard.

    TRAVEL INSURANCE
    Before booking any activity excursions it is essential that you ensure your travel insurance extends to cover the specified activity. It is your responsibility to obtain adequate insurance.

    This excursion will operate by coach.Places are limited and this tour will sell out. The drive to Mahabalipuram is around two hours each way, with a comfort stop en route. The time spent at the resort is around three hours, which includes time for luncheon. A welcome refreshment is included, however additional refreshments can be purchased and are payable in local currency. Although the hotel is located on the beachfront, a walk of approximately five minutes along a pathway provides access onto the beach itself. Guests are strongly advised to swim only in the hotel pool as there is a risk of strong undercurrents in the sea. The use of the hotel pool and buffet luncheon are included, there may be charges for other services within the hotel and these are payable on the day in local currency. Please refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages prior to any swimming activities. There may be independent suppliers on the beach that offer watersports. These are provided by parties unconnected to Cunard.

    Tour code

    MAA_007

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Meal included

      Meal Included

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    7 hours

  • Mahabalipuram - Town of Temples

    Visit the town of Mahabalipuram, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site for its magnificent group of monuments.

    Mahabalipuram - Town of Temples

    The coastal town of Mahabalipuram is dwarfed by the magnificence of its ancient monoliths and carvings, and the Shore Temple which has stood by the sea for 12 centuries. Situated a two hour drive away from Chennai, the town owes its incredible structural history to the period of Pallava Kings, who ruled this part of South India many centuries ago.

    Marvel at The Five Rathas, monolithic temples that were sculptured out of the rock in the mid 7th century and that are part of an amphitheatre of art. The sculpture of the magnificent elephant and sacred bull are well worth seeing.

    Visit The Shore Temple, one of India’s oldest temples that sits in a prominent coastal position overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Dating back to the 8th century AD, it provides an insight into the first phase of Dravidian style construction.

    Krishna’s Butterball makes for an interesting stop. A natural rock boulder that rests precariously at an angle of 45 degrees on a smooth slope. The area of the rock is said to have a calming effect on the senses and has become quite an attraction over the years.

    Arjuna's Penance is believed to be the world’s largest bas-relief, sculpted on the face of 2 enormous rocks. It shows realistic, life-size figures of animals, humans and celestial beings, and tells the mythical story of the River Ganges rising from its source in the Himalayas.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The journey to Mahabalipuram is around two hours each way with a comfort stop en route. It is advisable to eat a hearty breakfast as only light refreshments will be available during the tour. This tour involves around 20-40 minutes of moderate walking at each stop, which is over varying terrain including rough and uneven ground and steps. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    MAA_003

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    7 hours

  • Darkshinachitra Centre of Living Traditions

    Dakshinachitra offers a wonderful insight into the art, folk performing arts, crafts and architecture of India.

    Darkshinachitra Centre of Living Traditions

    Supported by the Madras Craft Foundation, a non-profit organisation, Dakshinachitra opened to the public in December 1996. The centre occupies 10 undulating acres overlooking the Bay of Bengal, at Muttukadu and is a unique heritage centre.

    During your visit, you’ll see traditional craftsmen and folk artists working and performing in the reconstructed period settings of 19th century streets, homes and workshop spaces. The structures are representative of those once found in India’s four Southern states, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. The centre offers an enlightening and educating insight into the diverse lifestyles of the people of Southern India.

    You’ll have around 2½ - 3 hours to explore Dakshinachitra with your guide and discover everything the centre has to offer.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The journey to Dakshinachitra is around 1½ hours each way, with a comfort stop en route. This tour involves around 2½ hours of leisurely guided walking, which is over paved surfaces including some steps. Flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Local currency is required for purchases at Dakshinachitra.

    Tour code

    MAA_004

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    6½ hours

  • Chennai City Highlights

    This tour will allow you to discover the highlights of Chennai, also known as the ‘Capital of the South’.

    Chennai City Highlights

    Fort George was built by the British East India Company in 1640 and symbolised the beginning of British rule in India. Within the remnants of the fort is the Fort George Museum, one of the oldest surviving buildings. The museum was opened in 1948 and began with a small collection of objects of the British Raj that were donated by the local government and authorities. Today it houses a much wider collection and offers an interesting insight into the history of the fort.

    The San Thome Cathedral Basilica is a beautiful neo-Gothic style white structure and its spire is 183 feet high. It is believed to have been built over the tomb of St Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. This sacred place has been awarded the status as a National Shrine of India.

    The Bronze Gallery is located in the Government Museum and showcases a fascinating collection of period bronzes. You can view Saivite, Vaishnavite, Jain and Buddhist pieces from the early years and discover more about the unique Bronze collection.

    Kapleeshwara Temple is believed to be one of the oldest and most revered holy places in the city. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kapleeshwara Temple is characteristic of the Dravidian architectural style with its elaborate and intricate carvings. Its striking gopurams (monumental towers) are colourful creations and within the carvings of the temple are inscriptions that date as far back as 1250 AD.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves around 35-60 minutes of moderate walking at each stop, which is over relatively flat ground. At the Fort George Museum and Bronze Gallery there are numerous steps to negotiate. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    MAA_001

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    5 hours

  • Grande Bay Resort

    An easygoing option that gives you the chance to chill out and unwind at the Grande Bay Resort in Mahabalipuram.

    Grande Bay Resort

    The Grande Bay Resort Hotel in Mahabalipuram, a two hour drive from Chennai, is set amidst a lush tropical garden and close to the shores of the Bay of Bengal.

    Upon arrival, enjoy a welcome refreshment, before settling down for some leisure time. During your stay you can relax and sunbathe around the hotel’s inviting pool and perhaps take a refreshing dip, or simply explore the hotel grounds.

    A delicious local style buffet luncheon is included.

    BEACH/WATER RELATED EXCURSIONS
    For any excursion involving water, guests are reminded to exercise particular care. Alcohol and eating a full meal should be avoided before swimming. If buoyancy aids are provided for an activity they must be worn at all times. You should bear in mind that the sea is unpredictable. Lifeguards are unlikely to be present and there may not be a flag system to indicate whether or not it is safe to go in the water. In addition, beach activities may not be supervised or accompanied and so you should take care to satisfy yourself as to the safety of the beach and/or the sea at the time of your excursion. Please exercise caution when entering the sea as the seabed and aquatic environment is capable of springing surprises and we have not inspected the beach or seabed for its safety. Children must be supervised by you at all times near water. All activities on the beach, water and in the sea are undertaken at your own risk. You’ll need to take swimwear, a towel, sunscreen and flat shoes that can be worn in the water.

    LIABILITY
    Cunard will arrange for the excursions to be performed by the relevant excursion provider. Cunard does not provide or supply the excursion services. Cunard will exercise reasonable care and skill in the selection of the excursion provider, but will not in any circumstances have a greater liability than the excursion supplier and Cunard shall not be responsible for the negligent acts/omissions of the excursion supplier. Please note that in relation to all excursions Cunard is not responsible or liable for any loss, damage, or injury sustained by you unless such loss, damage or injury arises out of a breach of legal duty of Cunard.

    TRAVEL INSURANCE
    Before booking any activity excursions it is essential that you ensure your travel insurance extends to cover the specified activity. It is your responsibility to obtain adequate insurance.

    This excursion will operate by coach.Places are limited and this tour will sell out. The drive to Mahabalipuram is around two hours each way with a comfort stop en route. The time spent at the resort is around three hours, which includes time for luncheon. A welcome refreshment is included, however additional refreshments can be purchased and are payable in local currency. Although the hotel is located on the beachfront, a walk of around five minutes along a pathway provides access onto the beach itself. Guests are strongly advised to swim only in the hotel pool as there is a risk of strong undercurrents in the sea. The use of the hotel pool and buffet luncheon are included, there may be charges for other services within the hotel and these are payable on the day in local currency. Please refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages prior to any swimming activities. There may be independent suppliers on the beach that offer watersports. These are provided by parties unconnected to Cunard.

    Tour code

    MAA_006

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Meal included

      Meal Included

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    7 hours

  • Discover Kanchipuram

    Kanchipuram is one of the 7 most sacred places of pilgrimage for Hindus and is a must see for any visitor to Chennai.

    Discover Kanchipuram

    A two hour drive away from Chennai is Kanchipuram, often referred to as the ‘Golden City’ and was also once known as the ‘City of a Thousand Temples’. Today there are just over 100 shrines within the surrounds of Kanchipuram and the most important being those where the practice of worship remains active.

    View the Kailasanatha Temple, which is one of the oldest in Kanchipuram and famous for its artistic limestone art and sculpture. It was constructed in 685 AD by Pallava King Rajashimha and completed around 705 AD. You’ll also view the 10 storied and intricately sculptured Goporum of the 16th century, the Ekambareswara Temple.

    Kanchipuram is also renowned for its traditional art of silk weaving. A stop will be made at a local weaving centre for you to enjoy a demonstration of weaving a hand loomed silk sari. You may even wish to make a purchase as a souvenir of your visit.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot.It is advisable to consume a hearty breakfast in the morning as only light refreshments will be available during the tour. The journey to Kanchipuram is around two hours each way with a comfort stop en route. This tour involves around 30-45 minutes of moderate walking at each stop, which is over varying terrain including some rough and uneven ground and steps. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    MAA_002

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    6¾ hours

  • Leisurely Chennai

    A leisurely option that combines a panoramic drive around Chennai, with a visit to the Kapaleswarar Temple.

    Leisurely Chennai

    Sit back and relax, as you set off on a panoramic drive through Chennai, passing by the Madras High Court, part of what is believed to be the 2nd largest judicial complex in the world. Your drive will continue to the Fort St George viewpoint, where a short photo stop will be made, before heading past Marina Beach, the country’s longest urban beach. Look out for the War Memorial and Madras University Building, as you drive towards the local fish market and then onto the San Thome Cathedral Basilica. Here, a short photo stop will be made for you to enjoy the exterior of this beautiful neo-Gothic style white structure and 183 foot spire.

    Afterwards, you’ll continue to the Kapaleswarar Temple, believed to be one of the oldest and most revered holy places in the city. The temple is an elaborate and intricate colourful creation with inscriptions that date back to 1250 AD. Enjoy a short visit to admire the striking temple, before taking the drive back to the port. En route you’ll pass by more city sights, including the Cricket Stadium, Central Railway Station and Parry Corner.

    This excursion will operate by coach. To derive full enjoyment from this tour, some walking is required at the Kapaleswarar Temple. This is leisurely and over relatively flat ground. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    MAA_005

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    3½ hours