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Travails of a cruise tourist in Chennai Port

Cruise promotion in the country revolved around the west coast with Mumbai as the country’s major base and Goa and Cochin the main attractions for international cruise tourists. Chennai is the only port in the east coast which has a little cruise infrastructure.

The tourists were taken to the terminal in shuttle buses

But when an international cruise vessel empress made a call on Chennai port whatever little infrastructure the ministry built virtually collapsed. There is no parking lot available inside the port and the tourists were taken to the terminal in shuttle buses. There is no covered walkway from the terminal to the ship and the tourists were made to wait under the sun. Security personnel at the port were not adequate leading congestion near the entrance of the ship

The scene was worse in nearby Puducherry port where there is not standard operating procedure to handle a cruise vessel.

The vessel was denied entry to the port and tourists missed the potential of Puducherry

The cruise tourists who signed up to travel by The Empress at Chennai had to report almost seven hours before departure at Island Grounds, three kilometers away from the port. They were taken to the terminal by shuttle buses. After almost an hour of chaotic boarding procedures, they walked a long way under the sun lugging baggage.

Chennai Port has a terminal but is also the most difficult to access. “The challenge of access to the port for the guests is because ports in India are mostly government-owned and are trading ports. There are lots of rules and regulations. That has to change a bit.

Chennai Port Trust chairman Sunil Paliwal said private cars cannot come inside due to movement of  4,000 trucks and trailers. Handling security may also become complicated for CISF. “We will put additional infrastructure at the terminal if required. We plan to use the ground floor for the Andaman ferry and first floor for cruises. We will wait till September and work it out.

If we get international cruise, we have space to expand the terminal on the southern side.

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