On 14th April 2011, Our ship, M V Swarajdweep sailed from chennai dockyard around 5.30 p.m. for Port Blair. Let me acknowledge the services rendered by my old colleague Mr. Anantachari We were allotted a First class 4 bedded coup, the 3 beds we were entitled to and the 4th one was allotted to a young girl. This girl was a smart one she already invited a friend to share her berth and lodged their luggage taking over two storage facility. We did object to this arrangement to the ship officials and consequently these two girls vacated the berth and went away to some other place. So we had this coup all for ourselves for the next 3 nights. As the Ship moved away from the shore the Chennai skyline as if going away from us. The move was so smooth that we did not feel the movement. This was our first sea voyage. After we settled our things in the coup, we went out on to the Deck. Water, water and water everywhere, and our ship was the only Island moving forward. The sky was clear and there was no possibility of rain or thunder shower. All the time we were swinging left to right. There were about 2000 people travelling to Port Blair. One could go round the ship using the deck passage. There were 3 canteens where one could buy food coupons. The govt.canteen needs immediate booking as soon as you are allotted your berth. This canteen has proper sitting and food serving arrangements. The quality and cleanliness is better than other two canteens operated by private canteen provider. Food is mostly non-veg and vegeterian people will find it difficult to manage with vegeterian food for which options are limited. Passengers were mostly army personnel, Andamanese and a few tourists. Tourists generally fly to Port Blair in package deal because of 3 reasons: First one is time saving, it saves about 63 hours, the second reason is the price you pay for a voyage as it is equal or more than a flight travel and thirdly, buying the ship ticket. Tickets are not available online, you have to have someone buy it for you either at Chennai or Kolkata in person with your ID proof. These differences discourage people to travel by ship. For us we just wanted to experience a sea voyage as a part of our Andaman trip. Of course our return ticket from Port Blair to Kolkata was by flight.
Over all the sea voyage was enjoyable but at times little monotonous. On board entertainment was insufficient except some movies were screened everyday. They should have indoor games, like carrom, badminton, tabletennis, chess, Ludo and many other available options. A swimming pool is a must for such a long time voyage. These entertainments would make the travel more attractive and travellers would opt for it. From the deck we could see flying sea water birds, they were also floating on water, there were also thousands of fishes swimming in groups and it was a wonderful sight to see, specially the color of sea water was navy blue and that too was for us a unique sight. We did not experience any unusual sea water turbulence and neither ever water spalshed onto the deck. Generally in Monsoon season the sea becomes rough due to choppy weather then passengers mostly suffer from sea-sickness and one cannot eat proper food.
On 17th April early morning around 7 we reached the Port Blair. It took sometime to alight. We had our accommodation booked at Teal House at Delanipur, a guest house maintained by the Andaman and Nicobar tourism Dev. Corp. We took a cab to reach the Teal House. April was hot in Port Blair and an AC room was a good option. we had our bath and Breakfast was provided. Arrangements were just all right. From the back of the guest house one could see the Andaman Sea about a mile away.
In Port Blair there are many wonderful things one can see. There autos are available in plenty and the ride is quite pleasant. Here around 4.30 in the early morning the sky clears up and by 7 it looks like mid day. The wonderful sea breeze keeps one refreshed while the sun feels very hot. Our first visit to some of the islands are
On our way back we flew to Kolkata. At the Port Blair airport the internet system went off and we had to wait in the queue for a long time. However, people like us who bought their tickets through Jet Air website were given first preference and those who booked through other agency had to wait for other clearances. When the flight took off we could see the sea below surrounded by deep forest area and the sea coast and sandy banks. It was a marvelous sight to see. It took about 2 hours to land at Kolkata Airport. At Kolkata we stayed in our Brother-in-laws house for a day before we took a train next day to Chakdaha. Chakdaha is a small subdivition under Nadia district of West Bengal. This is the home of my wife and we met her relations, specially my Mother-in-law who was then 89 years old. She was a freedom fighter during her younger days.
While my family stayed on for the next day, I ventured to visit Mayapur, where the famous ISKCON Temple and a hundreds of Radha Krishna Temples are located.