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Indian cruise ship providing quarantine floatel for Sri Lanka crew change

Photo: Angriya Cruises website indiacruiseship.PNG
Completely inactive all through 2020 due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, India’s first cruise ship Angriya is being currently used at the southern Sri Lankan port of Galle as a floating hotel to quarantine seafarers who are either leaving or joining duty.

As part of the sea travel bubble services for crew changes, the ship has been serving seamen who have been stranded across the globe due to the limited frequency of flights to either return home or join ship in Covid-19 conditions.

“Seafarers disembark from their respective ships, and stay on our vessel for four to five days in quarantine mode, while they complete formalities for their departure from Sri Lanka,” said Capt. Nitin Dhond, chairman and managing director of Angriya Sea Eagle, that owns and runs the ship.

“The sailors then proceed to Colombo airport, about 120 km away, before leaving for their destinations. Similarly, the sailors wanting to join duty fly to Colombo and then board out liner and stay on it for some time before joining their ships off Galle. At any given time, we can accommodate 400 people on our vessel.”

This innovative use of the cruise liner – which earlier operated short cruises on the Mumbai-Goa route, but had been lying idle at its homeport in Mumbai for over nine months – was started after an agreement was signed with a local company involved in the facilitation of seafarers in Sri Lanka.

The liner began operations as a quarantine floatel at Galle on 20 December 2020. She is manned by an all-Indian crew, for both hospitality and marine operations.

Capt. Dhond declined to disclose the revenue that the vessel has been earning from the assignment in Galle, but insisted that he did not look upon it as a commercial venture.

“It is just good for us that the vessel is not sitting idle, and that we can be of some assistance to seafarers,” he said. “Once the travel restrictions are eased further and normalcy returns, we will bring Angriya back to its homeport and use it as a cruise liner again.”