Friday, February 03, 2017

A Dreamy Sail aboard MV Kavaratti- Cruise to Lakshadweep

In just about 4 hours of being on board MV Kavaratti, I had gone around exploring the entire ship even before it could start sailing. I was already in love with the experience. Read here.

Around 3 PM, the ship finally started its journey from the port. The entire process of getting undocked and into the main waters took a long time. A smaller vessel first pulled the ship away from the dock and then turned it 180 degrees around so that the nose of the ship faced the open waters. Then slowly the cruise moved away from Willingdon Island and towards the Arabian Sea. Almost all the tourists seemed to be up here on the top deck to see the entire procedure. The blazing heat of the sun was disregarded as fascination took over.

MV Kavaratti stands in the middle of the Arabian Sea at Lakshadweep

We crossed many ships standing at the huge port. None of them were bigger than ours for sure, although some looked classier. I had never seen so many cruise ships so close before this day.

Once out in the open waters, with the ship sailing at full speed, other tourists were already going to the Bridge to see the Pilot area. We waited for some time for the crowds to dwindle and then finally went inside. The Captain wasn’t there, but the Chief of Officers Mr Krishna Raj greeted us and showed us around after being fascinated with my name for some time and guessing the right meaning in one go.

“The ship is running at its full speed of 13 knots right now and we are 14 hours away from arriving at Kavaratti Island,” he informed us.

A small vessel helps turn the ship around at the port, Willingdon Island, Kochi

Standing on the deserted top deck of MV Kavaratti as it made its way away from the mainland at Kochi

A visit to the nose of the ship greeted us with this view of the Bridge, MV Kavaratti

The entire room was full of equipments of all sorts and there were loads of numbers on display which were changing every second. Krishna cleared our queries happily and explained how the various machines work, in layman language. How the RADAR could catch even a tiny fishing boat, how deep the seabed was right now (400 metres if I remember correctly) and how the ship was running on 'auto-pilot' towards its destination.

“Can we climb above the bridge?” I asked expectantly.

“No. It’s dangerous because of the RADARs,” he told me.

“How is life back at home?” we asked Krishna.

“Well, I live in Kochi so it is 5 days at sea and then a day at home before the next trip begins,” he said quite frankly.

“Don’t you get sea-sick ever?”

“I did in my first year at sea. But now I am used to it. Right now the weather is good, the waters are calm, the waves hardly affect the ship. But during the monsoons it is insane weather but we have to keep sailing so the locals aren’t cut off from the mainland,” he informed us.

Two days later when I returned there with my parents, he was quick to recall my name and happily said ‘I am sure now I don’t need to explain the controls- you know them well and can explain it to them’. I sure did!

The entire crew seemed superbly friendly- not at all sophisticated around us- and made us feel at home. We were told not to touch anything but nobody protested when I picked up the binoculars to look at the setting sun. The ship was headed straight to it.

As the ship was moving out of the port, the final phone calls had been made to everyone back at home. There would be no connectivity for the next 4 days until we were back here in Kochi. (There is only BSNL network on the Lakshadweep islands, and Kavaratti has Airtel although I found that data didn’t work)

We all sat there on the top deck for some time, seeing the sun set as the cruise moved away from the Indian mainland and to the pristine and virgin islands of Lakshadweep. The next morning was going to be another adventure when we would wear life jackets and disembark from the ship into small motor boats to reach the islands.







The Inner connection
Over the next four days, the top deck of the ship definitely became my favourite spot. Almost every night after dinner I would head up there. It used to be dark, with lights coming only from the decks below. (Lights aren’t switched on inside the Bridge at night as it would make it difficult to look into the dark sea while sailing.)

I would sit there on the deck for a few minutes, the wind hitting hard on my face. I would stare at the sea waves being harshly cut as the ship made its way through it. I would stare at the distance where the horizon should separate the sea and the sky but none of it would be visible in the darkness of the night. I would stare at the sky above and millions of bright twinkling stars would stare back at me.

There we were, a tiny speckle of iron in the middle of the vast sea with nothing but water in every direction till as far as the eyes could see. It’s one thing to imagine it and absolutely something else to experience it for real. Just accepting the gravity of the situation is a thrill like no other.

I would be lost in my thoughts until the cold became unbearable. And then I would head back to my cabin.

On the last night the weather was a little rough and the ship was swaying a bit more than I liked. It had already been a tiring day at Kalpeni Island and I preferred going to bed early. I slept for 12 hours straight. By the time I woke up, we had already entered Indian mainland and MV Kavaratti was making its way through Cochin waters to the port. An epic journey was coming to an end. Epic in all proportions with loads of memories and unforgettable days at the islands of Lakshadweep.


MV Kavaratti makes its way to get docked at Willingdon Island, Kochi

A picture at the Bridge before disembarking from the ship on the last day

Some facts about MV Kavaratti

  • It is the 1st indigenous cruise ship of India that is functional since the last 10 years. It was built in Vishakhapatnam over a 10 year period.
  • It was built for a maximum running speed of 16 knots, but usually reaches only till 13 knots now.
  • It can carry 700 passengers in 1st class, 2nd class and Bunk class combined. The Samudram package tourists are in 1st class by default.
  • It was part of the mission to rescue Indians from Syria in April 2016.
  • MV simply stands for Motor Vessel.

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.

Now read:
Exploring Lakshadweep Islands with Samudram Package
My First Time on a Cruise Ship- Onboard MV Kavaratti

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14 comments :

  1. Interesting post.
    I think ship packages are best and easiest to explore Lakshdweep.

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    Replies
    1. True. Easier than planning on one's own with all the inconvenience that the permits and everything bring along.

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  2. That's a rather unique experience to have! I was in love with that sunset over the Arabian Sea and the fact that you could see so many stars from the top deck.

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  3. Wow this is such a unique experience. I have never been on a cruise or in the Arabian sea so I found this very interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Visit India some day Nicole. There is a lot more beauty here :)

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  4. I took some trips like that last summer. And yes, it was a wonderful experience to look at the water and feel the refreshing wind. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Sounds like an interesting trip. I love the idea of being able to stand on the deck at night whilst looking out into the darkness, I can imagine it would be a time for reflection.

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  6. I've never been to a long trip in a ship, sound like a cool adventure! Can't imagine living without connectivity for 4 days though, haha

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  7. It sounds like really nice experience. I like your pictures and detailed information about the sailing trip. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Wow...I'm in awe! I love the way you explained the entire experience, made me feel present in the moment. Now I want to go on a cruise ship!

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  9. Wow! MV Kavaratti looks pretty big, but at the same time quite smaller than cruise ships I have been on. It's always so fun getting on board and exploring the whole place!

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