On our way north towards Mumbai we encountered a warship, the RNIS Vikramaditya, a modified Kiev Carrier conducting exercises. We were asked to give her a 3-mile clearance and the reason why became clear as she reached that point; she was towing something, a long cable stretching away from her stern. We wondered about its purpose and thought that maybe it was a towed array sonar.
Up on the Bridge at 6 a.m. to supplement the bridge-team on their approach. Already stifling hot, the air thick with humidity, a portent for temperatures to come. Strangely enough, although Mumbai is accessed via a long buoyed channel, the compulsory pilot will not board until we are almost in the berth. As you know by now, we prefer doing it ‘our way’, so we weren’t objecting to this unusual circumstance.
Our arrival time-lapse
I have been to Mumbai before, on the Amsterdam and, in my younger years, on plodding General cargo ships, so I know its idiosyncrasies reasonably well. One of them being the depth of water under the keel, or lack of it would be more appropriate. Although channels are marked on charts with depths, silting and lack of dredging actually results in considerably less water than charted. We for example, had 1½m or around 4 feet under the keel as we made our way to the turning basin and I’d swear we were dredging the channel ourselves as we backed towards the berth; the power needed to even get our baby to move was the equivalent of fighting a 30 mph wind and getting to the dock took an age.
We were scheduled to berth at the Offshore Container Terminal, our usual berth, Ballard Cruise terminal being occupied by a Costa ship which was conducting a turn-round, passengers disembarking and others joining. It is the first time they had berthed a Cruise ship at the OTC (and, if I have anything to do with it, the last time one does so). It is remote, a long causeway bridging the berth to the mainland and a 12-minute journey by vehicle to the ‘Green gate’, the dock gate access to the city.
Ballard cruise terminal, occupied by our interloper.. To the left is a decommissioned aircraft carrier
Once on the dock, we had challenges with a gangway, although ordered several days before, it was there, tantalisingly close, unfortunately someone had neglected to arrange the crane to lift it to the shell door which was to be used for access. One hour after docking, the crane arrived; had my blood-pressure been measured it would have been off the charts. Guests and Crew then had to go through a face-to-face Immigration inspection. 4 hours after arriving, the final guests managed to get ashore. Passes are checked at the bottom of the gangway and at the Green gate and upon return, the same procedures.
I appreciate it is for Security purposes too, however one is left with the overall impression that India did not really appreciate us being there.
In the evening I went ashore with our friends, destination? The Taj Mahal Palace hotel and a curry in their restaurant. After the day I’d experienced, it was a welcome and pleasant break. We had to watch the time though, the dock gates close at 11:30 p.m., effectively closing access to the ship, guests and crew alike. Those guests who so wish, could stay ashore overnight though and many took advantage of this. Here are some of the photos I took during the journey to the Taj and Karen has taken her camera with her today, so hopefully some more colourful and interesting photos after we have sailed.