The five-hour road trip from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi and a further six-hour back-breaking bus journey from Kochi to Kozhikode could now well be a thing of the past, with the arrival of two cruise ships in Kochi on Tuesday.
Expected to become functional in time for the Onam festival, the high-speed hydrofoil ferry service would be the first of its kind in the country.
The service will be launched in two phases with the Kochi Marine Drive being connected to the Beypore port in Kozhikode in the first phase. The second phase will see the cruise facility extended up to the Vizhinjam port in Thiruvananthapuram.
A MoU was signed between the NRK-funded Dubai-based Safe Boat Trip Pvt Ltd which is into Aqua-tourism and the state Department of Ports in Vizhinjam on July 15 in this regard.
Hereâ€™s a quick dekko at the mid-size cruise vessels:
- There are two of them and have arrived in Kochi all the way from Athens in Greece. The Cochin Port Trust has waived off all its charges for the ferry service.
- Both are fully-air-conditioned, equipped with pantries and can seat upto 130-odd passengers. Passengers can avail of entertainment facilities on board the vessels.
- These can notch up a speed of 30 to 40 knots or to put it in laymanâ€™s terms -60 kms per hour. Hence, passengers can reach Kozhikode from Kochi in around three hours and traverse the distance from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram in just under two hours.
- The subsidy of Re.1/- per kilometre per passenger announced by the state government would translate into a deduction of Rs.220/- per ticket on the Vizhinjam-Kochi route and minus Rs.150/- per ticket on the Kochi-Beypore route. Thus the fare per person would be in the range of Rs.1000-1200.
- To-and-fro daytime services are offered on a daily basis and the entire trip from the capital city to Kozhikode could hopefully be completed in around four and a half hours.
The ultimate aim is to provide a hassle-free and leisurely trip to regular commuters as well as tourists through the scenic waterways of the state. A laudable step indeed!
(All photos by Rajesh Kumar)