Sunday 16 February 2020


1. “Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.” – Drake

2. “The journey never-ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.” – Antonio Brown

3. "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward

        Formation of a Group is established not as a summation of parts but by the integration of the parts to make a ‘Whole’. Much the same way 88 Veterans from Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai gathered to integrate at T2 Terminal at 0730 hrs on 07 Feb 2020  at Mumbai’s Sahar Airport to Board Flight to Male.

       This  third Veterans tour to Maldives and Srilanka by Costa Victoria Cruise liner was also the brainchild of Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President NFMC, just as the first one to SE Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) in Aug-Sep 2018 and the Second one to Europe (Italy, Switzerland and France) in 2019 at the same time.

      Preparation for this trip earnestly started in Aug 2019, when Cdr Vadhera approached Capt KN Surendran, partner of Costa Victoria. The aim was to take 90 Veterans to Male and Colombo on a week’s trip. Various combinations of flights from-to Mumbai/Cochin/Colombo were discussed and filtered down to Fly out from Mumbai to Male on the morning of 07th Feb 20 and regale the balance trip on Costa Victoria from Male-Colombo-Cochin-Goa-Mumbai to reach back Mumbai 0n 14th and disembark on 15th Feb.


       NFMC opened a new chapter to its glorious records of firsts by planning and executing an exciting trip of 01 Night at Male followed by 07 nights cruise onboard Costa Victoria for a group of esteemed Naval veterans and their families. The group consisted of 87 Naval, Army and Air Force veterans and their families – 85 years young was the senior-most among few octogenarians with an average group age of 65+. This unpreceded trip started on 07 Feb, culminated when the guests disembarked from the cruise the ship at Mumbai port on 15 Feb.

       This trip was conceived by CdrVadhera, President, Navy Foundation, as early as in Aug 2019 and finalized  the package of 01 N Male and 07 N onboard Cruise ship Costa Victoria with the Tour Operator – Lotus Destinations Pvt Ltd, a National Award-winning company.

       With a view to getting a sense of the ship and its facilities, Cdr Vadhera, together with Cdr Vedi and Lt Cdr Tarapur, treasurer NFMC embarked the ship earlier on and met with the Captain and Hotel Director which was facilitated by Lotus. The team walked around the ship and checked all facilities and had meaningful discussions with the ship's team as to the special requirements for the group viz. dedicated venue and facilities for daily games and dance/karaoke/catwalk practice. All arrangements were in place and the itinerary was finalized after due deliberations.

        Team Mumbai was present in full strength at Mumbai airport on 07 Feb to receive each and every guest and provided with a personalized Lotus folder with itinerary, air ticket, cruise ticket, Sri Lankan visa and other useful documents. Sharjeel Ibji, Manager (Operations), Lotus escorted the group for the entire duration of the trip. Guests were also provided complimentary coffee/tea/biscuits at the airport prior boarding.   The group flew from Mumbai to Male on 07 Feb and Lotus team at Male accorded a warm welcome to our guests. Chartered boats were standby to quickly transfer our group to Hotel Season Paradise at Tulusdoo island, Male. Upon arrival at the hotel, guests were received with traditional welcome and had lunch before they explored the beaches and enjoyed water sports. This was followed by a BBQ dinner, with traditional ‘Boduberu’ lighting, music and dance in a very romantic ambience on a full moon night which the guests enjoyed to the hilt.

         All the documentation required for embarking the ship was done in advance at the hotel itself which facilitated the guests to embark the ship without any Q or boarding formalities that a normal passenger has to go through.

          On Day 2 the guests, post breakfast, were transferred to Male airport jetty where their baggage was taken over by Lotus Meet & Greet team for onward transfer to ship. Baggage was placed in the respective cabins of the guests before they embarked. The guests proceeded for Male City tour. Upon completion of the City Tour, guests were transferred to the ship for embarkation. Thanks to the efforts put in by Team Male, the entire embarkation procedure was so smooth and without our guests having to stand in a Queue. The guests settled down and explored the ship and post-dinner set the disco floor ‘on fire’ which trend continued for the rest of the voyage. On Day 2, the group (75 guests in two batches) proceeded for ‘Whale Submarine Tour’ which afforded an opportunity to our guests a unique experience to go underwater and to watch marine life in its natural habitat.

        The group had a professional choreographer, Mrs Kwa Jin Singh, in their midst and the team with an average age profile of 65+ years, under the leadership of Cdr Vijay Vadhera, President, NFMC decided to put up a variety entertainment program including a Catwalk for the ship’s Captain and his team on 13 Feb night, after the ship sailed from Goa. Costa Victoria was very gracious and supported our initiative by providing us with the venue - Concord Plaza for the rehearsals where our team honed their dancing and singing skills. Miracles do happen - Belying all ‘Nay-Sayers’, the grand finale presented to the Captain Sokratis and his team was nothing short of a fairy tale with guests in their 60s and 70s, giving the best of Bollywood dancers and renowned ‘catwalkers’ a good  run for their money.  Capt Agrawal, as Master of the Ceremonies did a great job.

       Captain Sokratis was requested to give away prizes, sponsored by Lotus, to winners of various events viz. best singer, dancer etc. which was followed by a cocktail. The guests were all over the ship, exploiting and experimenting with every facility on board. Right from Yoga at 0630 to gyrating to disco music well into the wee hours – the stamp of Naval veterans were all over and too pervasive for anyone to miss. Veterans tried their luck at Casino and bingo with mixed results. Cdr S Kumar hit jackpot in Bingo by winning Euro 500  and some others with smaller dividends.

       The ship’s Captain and his team were very happy and impressed with NF group and appreciated this very special, elegant and dignified group.  Wedding anniversary of Cdr&MrsDilip Phule and the birthday of Dr Sushma Goyal was celebrated on 14 Feb, coincidently Valentine’s Day, where all guests were present which was followed by a few rounds of housie.

         The trip ended on 15 Feb when all our guests disembarked from the ship at Mumbai port with fond memories of this 08 N trip etched in their memory. Guests were seen leaving with a sense of happiness and satisfaction, beyond words, writ large on their face. The deluge of appreciation, applaud and accolades so far received and still counting bears testimony to the high degree of professionalism and perfection with which the entire tour was conceived and executed jointly by NFMC and Lotus.  All the guests were presented with Lotus memento.


1) Best Dancer Male         =    Capt  PP Singh 
2) Best Dancer Female     =    Mrs Kwai Jen Singh
3) Best Karaoke Male      =   Cdr  RK Sharma
4) Best Karaoke Female =   Mrs Sachita Phule
5) Best Dressed Gent        =   Mr  Avtar Singh
6) Best Dressed Lady        =   Mrs Nina Sethi
7) Most Spirited Gent        =    Cdr  Bhushan Dewan
8) Most Spirited Lady        =    Mrs Sunita Vadhera
9) Cat Walk Gents              =   Cdr  Vijay Vadhera 
10) Cat Walk Ladies           =   Miss Kavneesh Kaur
11) Best Karaoke Duet    =   Cdr Vijay Vadhera & Mrs Meenakshi Verma

Mrs Kwai Jen Singh was presented NFMC memento for taking full charge of the entertainment programme.

There were two more stellar performers during the tour. Dr Gita Kasturi has performed all over India and abroad and has Won 18 awards/ titles having staged 55 dance ballet. Her master performance in Bharatnatyam was breathtaking. She commenced the programme with Jayadeva's Dasavatara song depicting 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu in Bharat Natyam style. After the dance, there was stunning silence and one could have heard a pin drop, just before a huge round of applause. Cdr RK Sharma's morning Yoga was superhit within a  day. While there were only a handful of yoga enthusiasts on the first day, the number rose to over 40 the next day. My Salutes to Dr Gita Kasturi and Cdr RK Sharma.       


The Success of this trip could be visualised by the appreciative remarks of  the Veteran friends.


VAdm Kanta Mukherjee: Dear Capt. Surendran, I must acknowledge the promptness & perfection with which lotus destinations group has dealt with members of Navy foundation, ever since we have booked our Cruise trip with you. It has been smooth & comfortable experience with Lotus representative Mr Sharjeel at the Mumbai Airport. Onboard the Costa Victoria ship, it's enjoyment from early morning to late evening along with a vast spread of food to satisfy everyone's taste. Staff at Costa are courteous and ever Smiling. Overall it was a great experience and I shall recommend all my friends a cruise at Costa Victoria. Many thanks to you and your staff specially Zeenat and Sharzil who were ever helpful to our queries. Please convey my thanks to the captain and the entire crew of Costa for a Hospitality everyone was extremely happy with. The Submarine tour was breathtaking with a deep-sea diver to cheer us and feeding the fish to give us a good view of a variety of beautiful fishes. I just loved it. As a non-diver couldn't think of going down 30000 feet and having a heavenly view.Thanks for your thought of putting us on a submarine tour. With best wishes to you and your entire staff for a memorable Cruise.

Cdr Rachh Pal Singh: Before Disembarking Costa I would like to convey my sincere thanks to Cdr Vadhera sir and Capt Surendran sir for organising this Unforgettable Cruise. For me, this Voyage would not have been possible (because of my shoulder fracture)without the help and encouragement of  my family members including Kong, Ping & Abdul and onboard help and encouragement given to me by Cdr Vadhera, Capt Sethi sir, Didi Sunita, Didi Nina, Cdr Vedi, Cdr Sharma Ji (my cabin mate )and all other members of NFMC Veterans and ladies cheering me.Looking forward to meeting you next Cruise. Goodbye,  sincere thanks and warm regards to all.

Cdr Dilip and Sucheta Phule: We sign off with a deep gratitude to Cdr Vadhera, Captain Surendran, Sharjeel and team NFMC and Lotus for organizing such a fantastic cruise. We are taking away unforgettable memories with new bridges built over old friendships and adding more friends. Celebration of our anniversary will remain etched in our hearts forever. Many thanks for the affection extended to us and blessings from all the cruise mates. Looking forward to more such trips. Best regards. 

Capt  P Parashar: Our thanks to all the organisers of this outstanding cruise - the amazing attention to each detail and punctilious execution was stellar. Hats off and a hundred bows to the Mumbai chapter for this initiative. The rest of us - notably Delhi chapter - must emulate. Thank you all for being such excellent cruise mates!!! We, - Alika, MIL, Prerna and I take back with us unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships. Thank you. 

Capt SS Sethi: Nina and Kavneesh join me in conveying our thanks for the tremendous amount of bondage and love and affection shared during this memorable trip. The tremendous amount of efforts put in by Cdr Vijay Wadhera and Capt Surendran are praiseworthy and beyond words of appreciation. May this bondage continue  with more get-togethers . Our best wishes to all the families. God Bless. God Speed.

Capt Param Pal Singh : It has been a very enjoyable sojourn on board the Costa Victoria especially because of the company we had in all of you. Ananya, Papa, Kwai Jen, MIL, Kwai Ping and Abdul Rahim join me in thanking all of you. Ably led by Cdr Vijay Vadhera and appropriately facilitated by Capt Surendran and his Lotus team, we had a whale of a time. Male, Colombo, Goa, Mumbai each stop was as pleasant as the cruise! For some time to come, we will miss the time spent at Concorde Plaza. Kwai Jen especially thanks to all the Boys n Girls who were so sporting and cooperative. We are going to miss the love showered on us by all our seniors. We would request all the friends to keep in touch. And do drop by when in Pune! 

Cdr RS Vedi : Vijay sir thanks a pile for the  WOW- cruise. No words will suffice to acknowledge the memorable outing. In fact, the heartening response of entire group members in person and posts speaks for itself.  Everyone is looking forward to some more outings the same type. You are kind of booked already. Your personal rapport with  Captain and all other ship staff was very appreciated which started with your visit to ship 3 months prior to our cruise.  Cheers.  Lucky us with you at the helm. Our Army & Airforce counterparts gelled very well and enjoyed too.BZ sir from all of us if I may.

Mr Bhrigu Lal, Pilot ‘B’:  Me and Neelu thank the Navy Foundation for accepting us in their Costa victoria cruise tour. It was indeed a wonderful experience for us.we enjoyed every moment of it. The service and hospitality by Capt Surendran and his Lotus team made our complete tour a cakewalk. Also the dedicated  and v. well-coordinated effort of Cdr Vijay  Vadhera and Sunita ji's support to him made this whole trip a memorable and marvellous one. Thank you one n all. Regards.

Col & Mrs N S Rawat: Dear members of Navy foundation it was an amazing experience to be co-travellers with you in Costa during the past week. What camaraderie, what energy and what spirits. It was all in abundance. Kudos to Cdr Vijay and kudos to Kauai Jen and family for transforming the trip into an unforgettable bouquet of memories. And kudos to our very young comrades' ladies and gentlemen for forgetting the number of years lived so far and becoming once again young participants in each activity with so much enthusiasm and warmth. We will relish and remember these moments. We are also beholden to team Lotus so very ably led by Capt Surendran for keeping a tag of each minor detail 24/7. Even if we make an effort to recall some uncomfortable moments during the cruise, nothing actually comes to mind. So we can only thank team Lotus, team Costa and  our Navy Foundation, all veteran cruise mates, families  Vir Naris, Mr Sahil, Capt Surendran and Cdr Vijay Vadhera. Thanks to all and hope we meet again. With profound regards to one and all.

Dhanbir Khattri : Costa Victoria cruise has come to an end... with a lot of fond memories of a lovely time spent together...It wouldn't have been possible without the painstaking efforts put in by President, Navy Foundation and the Team Lotus...My wife Ninu joins me in thanking Cdr Vadhera and Capt Surendran for the excellent time we had...special thanks to Sharjeel and all others in Team Lotus also who continued to work behind the scene to ensure... that our cruise becomes a grand success...Thanks to all our "young-at-heart" co-passengers also who enjoyed every phase of the trip...

Capt Rakesh Agrawala: Thanks a ton for an experience out of this world Capt Surendran of the lotus team and also to Vijay Vadhera to have us on board the Navy foundation for this wonderful cruise. Also a lovely set of thermos flasks, glasses gift wrapped at the Mumbai terminal for all.  Neera, Dr Sushma Goyal and Dr Suresh Goyal join me in thanking Capt. Surendran, Mrs Surenderan in their gestures to honour us and make the cruise an everlasting memory in our lives...God Bless them. Also to Vijay Vadhera to have us on board the Navy foundation for this wonderful cruise

Cdr Srikant Patnaik :  After a sorrowful early deboarding at Mumbai on 14th noon, we reached Shirdi and have prayed Shree Sachidananda Sadguru Sainath Maharaj to bless us all including the fabulous leaders and their support staff of Lotus and Costa. Thanked Baba on everyone’s behalf for our safe and memorable cruise/trip since 7th February. Requested him to shower special blessings on Cdr Vadera, Captain Surendran, Sherjeel and plan our next cruise. My special and heartfelt thanks to Kwaijin for making me dance for the 1st time ever and that too at 68. “Sab ka Malik Ek “

Cdr Anoop Verma : Meenakshi joins me to convey our sincere thanks to the organisers of this excellent cruise. It was a memorable event n experience, particularly bonding with so many new friends.  Looking forward to catching up with all in future too,  with many more such tours/ cruises. We convey our thanks to Cdr Vadhera n Capt Surendran Sirs n Lotus Team for making this event such a success.  Particular thanks to Sharjil for taking special care all along. Wishing all best of times and good health all the way.

Capt SurendranLotus is indeed grateful to NFMC for giving us this unique opportunity to create and execute a specially prepared itinerary for the Naval as well as Army and Air Force veterans and their families under the guidance of Cdr Vadhera, President, NFMC.
We are delighted that the trip went off very well and the group enjoyed the 01 N Male and 07 N cruise onboard Costa Victoria from 07 to 15 Feb. It is quite gratifying that the dignified conduct and demeanour of our group came in for appreciation from the Captain and his team.
Belying their age profile the veterans and their families were literally on their toes right from Yoga session in the morning to setting the disco floor literally on 'fire' late into the wee hours keeping everyone wondering and even envying the abundance of the energy of this 'never say die' group. Our gratitude to Kwa Jin Ping for raising the cruise to an altogether different level by stitching together a fantastic evening for the Ship's Capt and his team. We are grateful to our esteemed guests for their appreciation and encouragement given to Lotus and we cherish the experience gained during the trip. Warm Regards.

PS- Even as the Cruisemates are rejoicing the present trip, plans are afoot for the Fourth NFMC excursion to RUSSIA scheduled for Aug 2020.

Shano Varuna...Jai Hind.