All Aboard the Aqua Princess: A Mediterranean Cruise by Diipti Jhangiani

Rhea Khanna tags along with her Massi (mother’s sister) on a cruise. Her husband to be Samir, left her at the altar just a few days before the wedding and now all she wants is to be away from people, men in particular. Rina Massi, an eclectic, independent and colourful retired teacher is the perfect pivot and distraction in this plot. She manages to steer Rhea through her mental storms, and with a little help from serendipity, quite a few stars align at the end of the story and everyone is happy.

Especially me the reader; thanks to the gorgeous setting the story is based in. Back in 2006, I backpacked across the western loop of Europe and in 2014 a Winter in Vienna. But I was yet to experience the food and passionate of Italy. With All Aboard, I spend a couple of weeks, drinking flutes of Champagne, aboard the Aqua Princess, a luxury cruise line through the Mediterranean, taking off from the sea port of Civitavecchia in Rome with pit stops at Naples, Cannes and Florence. And with France being the capital of love, Cupid’s true home, sparks fly between the two in Saint Paul de Vence, a sixteen century village and the oldest medieval village in France. This happens in chapter 12 and if I say another word I will be tempted to tell you all! Get your copy on Amazon.

Travelling with The Khannas and the Shahanis

What is it about the sea… that makes you want to stare till it’s infinity? And what better a place to do that than on a cruise? Through Kiran’s book, I vicariously step aboard this cruise across Italy and France. With the best food on board, brewing romance and wanderlust, I am in for quite a treat.

Serendipity plays a big role in a lot that happens on this cruise. How Rhea landed on the cruise to begin with, her being related to Kamal’s school teacher, both their estranged pasts and their finally getting together at the end of the story.

Punjabis and Sindhis have almost always made a rocking pair. In this story Rhea Khanna and Kamal Shahani (is there a real one around? Single and available, leave me a note?) sure do.

I feel like giving Rhea a lecture about getting over it already because she keeps going back into the past. I mean I turned 30 this year, and I don’t feel any older. And here I see Rhea sobbing away about her lost love, her unfulfilled marriage and her fear of being alone at 30. But through the course of her weeks on the cruise, she begins to realise how one sided the relationship was. For everything she and Samir did together, he was mentally always somewhere else. And then there is Kamal, always there, beautiful, thoughtful and brooding Kamal. Is it his entrepreneurial success that makes him so hands on? It sure does give him an air of maturity and wisdom. But when she sees him playing with his niece and nephew aboard the ship, he becomes comical and carefree; so endearing!

On that cruise, Rhea has an adventure of her life. She travels across Europe, which you will agree has to be the most romantic continent on this planet. She falls for the wrong guy and is saved just in time by the right one, busts a criminal heist, and finally right at the end of the story, when we all give up all hope on this blumbering fool, she  rights all the wrongs with a kiss.

Oh and my most favourite part of the story? That has to be Rina Massi! She is so magical. She falls in love on the cruise with a retired colonel, she openly flirts, she makes Rhea fall in love, she wears the most colourful dresses and ensures everyone has a fabulous time! The kind of person that is the jaan of the party, I have an uncle like that! Oh and his name is Kamal! That’s just a crazy coincidence, but really everyone just waits for him to walk in for the party to truly begin. My favourite kind of people, always always, they are the ones that brew truly magical stories!

When I asked Kiran about her cruise experience, she said she hasn’t even been on one! (All you cruise companies out there did you hear that?) Every scene aboard the ship is described so well, I would have imagined her writing it while she was on a cruise herself through the Mediterranean. So go on, get your copy to experience the story of All Aboard, to enjoy the infuriating but addictive twists and turns of Rhea’s life. And while you are at it, get tempted to book yourself a cruise; for the new year perhaps?

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