I don’t know many people who have ever been on a cruise ship. A cruise vacation does trigger a lot of curiosity and when we were headed to board MV Kavaratti for our first cruise vacation, I was definitely ecstatic. I had read everything about it available on the internet (and there isn’t much) and this post explores what my naive and curious mind experienced.
The Check-in Process
We reached the Lakshadweep Wharf and Passenger Facilitation Centre at Willingdon Island in Kochi and got the boarding passes from the SPORTS (Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports) office on the 1st floor. MV Kavaratti is a passenger-cum-tourist ship. Tourists were to check-in by 10 AM so as to avoid the crowd of the local passengers that came after that. The ship was scheduled to depart sometime in the afternoon.
There was a long queue for the security check and we proceeded with our luggage on trolleys. It didn’t take us long to cross this. The security definitely is strict, nowhere close to airport security though. There was a bottle of water in one of our bags and they got us to open the bag to make sure it’s just water and not alcohol. Carrying alcohol is strictly banned on board MV Kavaratti and in the Lakshadweep islands we were headed to.
From here, our entire luggage was tagged with our cabin numbers and was taken separately. We boarded a bus to head to the port, each one of us excitedly looking out of the windows to catch the first glimpse of the ship.
|Getting the first look at MV Kavaratti docked at Willingdon Island, Kochi|
|Lakshadweep Wharf and Passenger Facilitation Centre, Willingdon Island, Kochi|
|The security check counters. Yes there was a little chaos and crowd, but much faster than airports.|
Lakshadweep Whart and Passenger Facilitation Centre, Willingdon Island, Kochi
First look and climbing up
The bus arrived at the port and we got down. The huge MV Kavaratti stood a hundred yards away. It was huger than I had expected. The grin on my face was bigger than I thought it would be. The first pictures had to be clicked right here.
The length of this ship is 118 m and width is 19 m. The largest passenger cruise liner in operation currently, the Harmony of the Seas, is 362 m long and 47 m wide. How big would that possibly be?
We were at the tail end of the ship and walked towards the front where the gangway was located. There were some people already on board and I could see them on the top deck. I couldn’t wait to get up there and explore the entire ship.
We climbed the stairs and were on the third deck of the ship. A set of stairs on the ship took us to the upper level where our cabins were located. My eyes were in no mood to miss out even the tiniest of the details.
|The gangway to climb up the ship. MV Kavaratti|
|One of the huge and tight doors to enter the ship. MV Kavaratti|
Reaching our cabins
Entering through a huge and heavy iron door brought us inside the ship. There were cabins on both sides and it took us a while to figure out our rooms even after following the signboards. For some weird reason, the odd and even numbered rooms are on two parallel corridors. And the corridors look exactly how you might remember from Titanic.
Our luggage stood right outside the cabin doors and we finally made our way in. I knew we were not in a luxury cruise and having read about the ship a lot already, I didn’t have high expectations from the room. So when I entered inside the cabin, it took me by surprise because it was not as congested as I had expected. There was in fact good enough space for two people. There was a bunk bed, a cupboard, a mirror, a table and two chairs, a fan and yes, a little window. The bed was definitely comfortable as would be proved over the next 5 nights, the fan was never used, and the window was too misty to show the outer world clearly. The bathroom had a western toilet, a wash basin and a shower with 24x7 hot water supply.
|The corridor with our luggage waiting outside our cabins, MV Kavaratti|
|Interior of the 1st Class Cabins aboard MV Kavaratti|
|It was a superbly comfortable bed.|
|The washrooms in the 1st Class cabin aboard MV Kavaratti|
Safety and security
Inside the cupboard in our cabins there were two sets of life jackets for each passenger- one that can remain afloat for 48 hours and one that can stay in water for 48 days. There were instruction sheets for using the right life jacket as per the situation. There was also a Muster Station Number written in big letters in our room. That’s the point you need to reach in case of an emergency.
All along the corridors there were layout maps of the ship and its decks, safety instructions and muster point maps. I doubt if people were going through it at all, but I definitely didn’t want to miss out on any detail.
We were instructed to keep our luggage locked when we were not in our cabins for safety since the cabins were not locked from outside.
|Safety instructions on board MV Kavaratti|
|How to wear a life jacket|
Exploring the ship
I was soon on my way to explore the ship. The dining area was located on our deck, just a little away from our rooms. The hospital was two decks below (and yes, we had to visit it often, thank you sea-sickness!)
Navigating around in the ship did seem a little confusing but within the next hour I was a pro. Haha…yes! Right now I was on my way to the upper deck. I climbed one set of stairs to reach the 5th deck and was welcomed by an empty swimming pool and few tourists clicking pictures. A climb from here took me to the top deck that houses the Bridge (Captain’s room) and a vast open space for walking and staring around at the views.
It wasn’t noon yet. The sun was blazing high up in the sky. But there was wind blowing and we were clicking a lot of pictures. The Bridge had a huge ‘No unauthorised access’ sign outside it. I wondered how we could go in.
We then went around exploring the nose of the ship on the third deck and got a frontal view of the ship as well as the Bridge. We also went to the back side of the ship and to the top deck with the helipad and the Indian flag. It felt like free pass everywhere, nobody ever complained or stopped us.
|Nose of the ship while it was docked at the port. MV Kavaratti|
|It was a hot and windy day! On the top deck of MV Kavaratti|
|The helipad on the top deck of MV Kavaratti|
|A bit of patriotism when you see the tricolour, MV Kavaratti|
Sometime during all this, the tour manager welcomed us all on-board on the PA system and made the lunch announcement. With all the tourists arriving together, it did take us a while to get done with lunch- and this was the only full meal that most of us were able to have on-board the cruise because the ship wasn’t moving yet (More about it in the sea-sickness post soon). The food on-board everyday was good- both veg and non-veg- and with soups during dinner.
After lunch, we were called by the Tour Manager to the recreation room for a briefing. Jafar took us through the entire itinerary and cleared our doubts. He also informed us that once the ship sails from the port, we could get access to enter the Bridge and meet the Captain and crew.
Well it had just been about 4 hours since we had boarded MV Kavaratti and gone around exploring the ship. The ship was yet to start sailing. The magical journey was yet to begin. Stay tuned!
We were on board MV Kavaratti for 5 days- 4 nights in September 2016 for a family vacation as part of the Samudram package that took us from Kochi to Kavaratti, Kadmat and Kalpeni Islands in Lakshadweep and back.
Exploring Lakshadweep Islands with Samudram Package
A Dreamy Sail aboard MV Kavaratti- Cruise to Lakshadweep
A Dreamy Sail aboard MV Kavaratti- Cruise to Lakshadweep