In the wee hours of 9th May 2019, as Mumbai slept a gigantic and beautiful cruise ship quietly entered the harbor and docked at the berth. The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s (RCL) - Spectrum of the Seas , one of the world’s largest and most luxurious ships called at Mumbai on its maiden voyage from Barcelona to Shanghai. This was the largest cruise ship to ever called at Mumbai. J. M. Baxi & Co. had the privilege of Spectrum of the Seas , as their agents for the calls at Mumbai and Kochi.
Spectrum of the Seas is the first Quantum-Ultra class vessel designed and built specifically for the Chinese market. Quantum-Ultra is an upgraded (enlarged and enhanced) version of the Quantum-class ships Anthem, Quantum and Ovation. This 348 meters long, 168,666-ton ship is the largest ever to call at ports in India and can accommodate a total of 5,622 guests and 1700 crew. The ship will debut her Shanghai season from June 2019.
The ship called Mumbai and Kochi with approxim ately 4500 passenger and 1600 crew. With this huge compliment on board and the ship calls being only for about 12 hours in each port, it was essential that the immigration and customs clearances be carried out expeditiously to maximise the passenger time ashore. Special approval was taken from the Bureau of Immigration to depute six immigration officers to the previous port of call (Muscat) to carryout immigration clearances during the passage to Mumbai. At Kochi, additional immigration officials were requisitioned from the airport and a huge temporary tent was setup for the Immigration staff.
To celebrate these maiden calls in India, plaque exchanges were conducted between Spectrum of the Seas ’ Captain Charles Teige and various government officials. At Mumbai, the plaque exchanges were done by Shri Jaykumar Rawal, the Honourable Minister of Tourism Maharashtra, Shri Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port and Mr Bani Bhattacharya, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai. At Kochi, Mr AV Ramana, Deputy Chairman of the Cochin Port Trust exchanged plaques with the ship’s captain. Plaques were also exchanged between the J . M. Baxi & Co. and the ship at both locations.
The J. M. Baxi & Co. team at Mumbai and Kochi along with the Cruise Cell at the Headquarters made special arrangements for receiving the ship in India. Preparations had commenced almost 10 months ago, with RCL deputing their Risk and HSSE officials to evaluate the berths available at Mumbai and Kochi. The ship could not be berthed at regular berths which have Cruise Terminals and therefore posed major challenges.
At Mumbai, due to the excessive height of the pier above the waterline at the Indra Offshore Container Terminal and the large range of tide, innovations were the order of the day as special platforms were fabricated to enable gangways to be placed on much higher decks than the ship is normally designed to accommodate them at. The gangways had also to be shifted from one deck to another as the tide changed with passenger movement ongoing on the pier.
The hard work, ingenuity and dedication of all the staff involved in handling the ship paid off in good measure with J. M. Baxi & Co. getting rave reviews for its performance. Alessandro Carollo, the Director of Port Operations of RCL for Europe, Middle East and India had the following to say
"I believe it is important to recognize hard working people, who never give up nor slow down for any reason; your team at the port of Mumbai has gone the extra mile once again, and delivered a fantastic call of the Spectrum of the Seas.
I personally saw them days before ship’s arrival, working on the pier, in order to make sure all the necessary services were in place, and I remember being extremely surprised when I realized they spent tireless days and nights, until (and including) the day of the call.
I have an incredible amount of respect for a team that knows no pause nor rest, until the project is delivered, working around the clock and having such knowledge of the operations and pride in what they do; I’m pretty sure this is not news at all to you, but I wanted to make sure I highlight their commitment, efforts and dedication, in order to make such a success of the Spectrum of the Seas ’ call, under difficult and challenging circumstances, as well as the pressure of having media and attention from the wider cruise community in India.
They are the team who not only delivered the Spectrum’s call, but an entire season for the rest of our ships in the region, Celebrity Constellation, Azamara Quest and the Explorer of the Seas, please make sure you convey my sincere gratitude for their hard work and dedication"