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Sunday, 17 June 2012

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A moving experience on a naval ship:

Jetliner gets closer to the public



Jetliner

The evening sky was slowly becoming red as the sun was ready to vanish in the deep seas off Colombo as we stepped into the Colombo harbour on that Saturday evening. An aura of festivity was there on the jetty as groups of nicely clad people, from kids to elders, were stepping joyously into the ship, the Jetliner.

Differently clad sailors and officers on the jetty were receiving the crowds at the entrance to the ship as they were taken in batches to the port in Navy vehicles from the gathering point at the car park opposite Lake House. As crowds were boarding the ship the other officers and the sailors were busy with their duty as the Jetliner was about to embark on their new venture to attract more people among the general public.

Dark clouds hovering in the sky were worrying the ship crew as they knew that rain would definitely spoil the joyous occasion of their guests and were praying for the weather God not to spoil the merry making evening of the people.

As the ship crew was preparing for the merry making evening, the crowds were slowly moving into the upper decks where they get more comfortable seating arrangements and open spaces were available to get a clear view of the surrounding of the port and to get the true feeling of a sea voyage.

The crew headed by Captain Anura Danapala were fine tuning plans to start their journey to the sea to give the crowds the opportunity to enjoy the sunset from the sea off Colombo. Unlike in the past they are not having worries about the security as the country now enjoys true peace and tranquillity.

Cap. Anura Dassapala, second in command, Commander Sujeewa Weerasuriya and the crew in the control room

Children trying the basics
Entertainment at its peak

The only worrying factor was the clearance they needed from the harbour officials to move out of the harbour and once they got the clearance the berth ropes were freed to set sail.

Crowds on the deck started cheering each other as the ship slowly moved into the sea and cameras started to flash to capture the distant view of the port and the Colombo city.

All were free to walk on the decks and enjoy their freedom with the sea breeze.

People loved to walk on the deck adjusting to the roll of the ship. But some who could not adjust to the unusual peddling of the ship had to hold onto the iron railing on the deck.

But it was the children who really enjoyed the journey running along the decks instead of the peddling of the ship to find out the manoeuvring of the ship.

As the ship sailed out of the harbour mouth, the control room of the ship was open for guests and they were free to study the navigation equipment as they enjoyed the courtesy of the Captain who was ready to pose for photographs to make that date memorable.

It was wonderful to observe a ship which was once restricted area even for Security Forces personnel,except for those who frequently travelled to the North from the East, become accessible to common masses now.

Therefore, it is definitely a different kind of experience for many who used to spend lavishly at star class hotels confining to the walls of a hotel and to swimming pools as the Jetliner provides them a moving experience for them while providing education on navigation and also about the sea.

Though many are aware that the Jetliner is available for weddings, functions and get-togethers now this opportunity has been made available to the general public by the Sri Lanka Navy after organising a monthly events enabling the public to participate at the event after purchasing a ticket.

Sharing his thoughts with the Sunday Observer, Captain Anura Danapala said that the Jetliner was earlier available only for corporate clients and for weddings, home comings and special functions.

"The possibility of ordinary people coming into Jetliner was very remote and the Sri Lanka Navy embarked on organising a function once a month enabling the general public to have access to the Jetliner after purchasing a ticket", Captain Danapala said.

According to Captain Danapala, the Jetliner is ready to offer a series of family entertainment, refreshment for the guests on board.

"We offer them a welcome drink, we sail out, upto Galle Face to see the sun set and come back.

A DJ and bands are playing to provide entertainment to the public and there is separate entertainment for children, face painters, magicians and cartoon movies. Invariably we have fashion shows and hair shows and things like that where the whole family can entertain together during Saturday evening", he added.

Captain Danapala says that there is a big demand for the event from the public and they are ready to organise two events per month if the demand is high.

"When we talk about the demand we are doing very well. For today's function we had about 350 tickets and 24 hours before the function, all the tickets were sold out. That shows how much of success we have", he added.

"At the moment we are holding it only once a month. With the demand we are planning to do two functions per month", he added.

Jetliner has now been refurbished to suit the present requirement and we have done a lot of refurbishment to host weddings, parties ,get-togethers, corporate functions, product launches and so on.

"We started these functions in February 2010 and upto date we have already completed about 370 functions, which showed well the demand and the success the people have looked up to and what Jetliner has offered", he added. The entire deck was full of crowds as the Jetliner sailed towards the sea off Galle Face green and the men were dancing to the tune of the DJ music. Sometimes, the sea waves made their dances a different from the usual as the roll of the ship added more oomph to their dance.

As the darkness engulfed the ship, it was lit up to a festive mood. Suddenly the crew and the crowds were getting a little excited as the sea conditions saw a slight change. The youth on board enjoyed the moment helping those who sought their help to move from one place to the other.

It was the return to the port after one and half hour sea journey and the officers and sailors on board the ship were carefully handling the ship as it was berthed at the port moving through other ships docked there at the port.

It's time for entertainment at the upper deck where seating arrangement were available for 350 people. Those who had access to the VIP section which had a capacity for 40 people had different music.

According to the Commander Sujeewa Weerasuriya, the Second in Command of Jetliner, general public were brought to the Jetliner by travel agents.

"The travel agents used to buy packages from the Navy and they sold tickets to the general public and used to bring people here on board the Jetliner.

They organised these events. So we thought we can arrange them in a better and a well organised manner. So far we have organised three such events and this is the third we organised", he added.

"Now, we are getting more organised groups for our events and the travel agencies are also bringing people. We have seen once such groups come they used to bring their families also at the next time. Therefore, the demand for the Jetliner is on the increase and I don't think that it will go down in the future too", Commander Weerasuriya added.

According Commander Weerasuriya, the demand for the Jetliner for other functions is also very high and it has hosted more than 20 functions per month at the latter part of last year.

"Last October and November we had more than 20 functions per month", he added.

"For the functions of the general public we give publicity with telephone numbers through the newspapers. Normally tickets are available at the Jetliner cubicle just outside the Gate Number 3 of the Colombo harbour", he added.

People can buy tickets from Rs. 3,750 to Rs. 4,500 for this events and for the children the ticket will be only Rs. 2,000.

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