I recommend you read the review by joemdas - 19 November 2016 - which is detailed and very accurate.
We also booked the Samudram package via Mint Valley, but travelled on 21st November for four nights. We travelled as a group of four, and were amongst only 7 Europeans on the cruise. Usually there are none, as this cruise is very much geared towards the Indian tourist. As a foreigner you need to be aware of the regulations concerning the special Lakshadweep permit and ensure that your travel agent arranges this at least three weeks before you embark. They will need electronic copies of your Indian visa and passport.
Embarkation occurs at Lakshadweep Wharf. The process is quite crowded and chaotic, but eventually you will get through - collecting tickets, checking in, security check etc. Be aware that no alcohol is allowed to be carried or consumed on this cruise. Although I normally enjoy a drink I have to say this didn't seem a huge sacrifice. We let the company take our luggage on board and it was at the cabin by the time we got there.
MV Kavaratti is a working passenger ship which transports the islanders from Kochi to the islands and between the islands. On the days it drops the 'tourists' off at the tourist resort islands it spends the way visiting other islands. Do not expect 'western' cruise ship luxuries. The swimming pool had no water in it and the small snack bar is very limited in stock and opening hours. None of this matters, because there is a packed itinerary to keep you fully occupied. The ship itself is only 8 years old and comparable to passenger ships I've travelled in around the UK. It is clean and well maintained. The cabins are a reasonable size and have AC power and en suite bathrooms. The aircon is sufficient and the ship is relatively quiet on the upper decks. We slept really well.
The first meal served after departure was a very basic biriyani, with little meat (non-veg version) and many of our fellow passengers were complaining. However, the subsequent meals on board were fine; a mixture of rice, dhal, veg dish and a meat / tuna curry with chapatti and pickles. It was clearly designed to please the mainly north indian tourists - we would have preferred a few south indian dishes as variety, but that's a minor quibble. The filtered water is safe to drink. The tea is always sweetened, in true indian style, but we found it possible to request a pot of tea with no sugar (though the crew thought this rather strange).
The Tourists visit three islands in turn. We visited Kavaratti, Minicoy, and Kalpeni in that order - but the order does change. The order of the day is similar each day: 7am breakfast (we didn't bother with 6.30am sweetened tea), then don lifejackets (provided in cabin) to jump onto the launches which take you to the island. Back on the launches between 4-5pm, then dinner at 7.30pm.
Kavaratti was the first island we visited. The 'resort' is not far from the port. The beach appears idyllic, but there is some diesel pollution from the nearby harbour. The (free) trip in the glass bottomed boat was great - we saw three turtles and a small shark, as well as hundreds of brightly coloured fish. Various other activities are offered, including scuba diving, and jet-ski. The jet-ski was allowed to operate right up to the beach, which was dangerous, and would be forbidden on european beaches. A tour of the island was offered in the afternoon, which is interesting. We also went for a walk to explore our surroundings on foot. The island is very built up compared to Minicoy and Kalpeni.
Next day we visited Minicoy, which involves a long 30-40 minute transfer by launch from MV Kavaratti. First stop was the lighthouse, built by the Brits in 1885. You can see the whole island from the top! The 'resort' was excellent and the buffet offered at lunchtime, as on the other two islands, was really excellent. At Minicoy snorkelling costs a few hundred rupees. You must do this - the coral was absolutely sensational. Not as dramatic as the Barrier Reef or as colourful as Fiji, but there was a huge variety of colourful fish and the giant clams were amazing. You are expected to wear lifejackets for this activity but may be allowed to discard them, as we were, by explaining that you can actually swim.
Our final stop was Kalpeni, which is perhaps the most picturesque of the islands. The snorkelling here is free. Again, you must do it - though the coral doesn't rival Minicoy's. We borrowed a bicycle from some of the local workers and went off to explore the local village - which was a great experience. The organised tours in the afternoon, including the T-shirt shop, were chaotic and meant we didn't get back to MV Kavaratti until it was nearly dark.
Every day was a full on experience. Once back on the MV Kavaratti you will just want to shower, eat your evening meal, and then sleep. The lack of 'luxury cruise ship' amenities is immaterial because of the excitement of each island visit.
As joemdas says, make sure you have adequate sun protection, especially for pale white skin. We carried beach shoes, which are good for walking along coral beaches. Our indian friends appeared to get 3G connection, but we couldn't afford to check this!
Finally, we have to say, the staff of the MV Kavaratti were fantastic: always friendly and helpful. We found there was really good spirit amongst our fellow passengers too - we may have been in a minority as european tourists, but everyone was really friendly. I have to say this is our experience generally in India, which is why we love travelling in this country.
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