Remember Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar romancing on the deck of a cruise ship in Dil Dhadakne Do? Such is the case with many affluent Indian households who now prefer the sea to party and to holiday. Thanks to the growing cruise tourism market, offerings from international cruise brands have gone up and Indian travellers are ready to loosen their purse strings to experience luxury.
“Indian travellers are ready to spend as much as Rs 50,000 and above per person per night on our ultra-luxury offerings and as much as Rs 32,000 and above on our luxury offerings,” said Steve Odell Senior, vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
The ultra-luxury category on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers exclusive suites with private terraces and choice of multi-cuisine meals, among other experiential facilities. The top suites on board in the category cost up to Rs 65,000 per night.
“We get anniversary and birthday celebration groups on board to top locations like Europe, The Mediterranean belt, on the Baltic Sea and our customers are taken on board in popular port locations like Barcelona, Venice, London and others. There are packages which include airfare to these ports while there are those that only include the cruise costs,” added Odell.
According to Varun Chadha, COO at Tirun Travel Marketing, India Representative of Royal Caribbean Cruises out of the 2 crore outbound traffic from India, 1.5 lakh are cruise travellers. “We have a supply side constraint in the segment and we are offering more and more services to promote the idea of cruise holidays and travellers have also opened up to the idea of it.”
The Cox& Kings Travel Style 2018 study said cruising in the high seas, has its own charm, what with large cruise liners wooing travellers with luxurious offerings. The evolved Indian traveller has now moved on to more intimate experiences such as river and canal cruises in India and Europe. “Experiencing unparalleled comfort while exploring the heart of magnificent hinterlands in River cruises will be the flavour of 2018. Exploring magnificent cities in France as you sail in its inland waters like Arles, Avignon, Viviers, Tournon and Lyon to experience France’s beauty intimately or gliding along Russia’s river waters to explore Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kuzino and Kizhi, River Cruising has piqued the interest of travellers,” said the report.
The offerings in the segment have been curated especially for the luxury travelers. Celebrity Edge by Tirun Travel for instance has redefined and introduced an array of revolutionizing concepts in different arenas of cruise shipping. Talking of some of the facilities on board Chadha said, “The ship introduces an idea called infinite state rooms which allows the entire room to be taken right next to the vast sea’s edge, just at the click of a button. The food is prepared by Michelin-starred chefs and the resort deck is equipped with a jogging track, a solarium and a rooftop garden.”
Back home the Indian government too is contributing to the growth of the segment. In order to promote cruise tourism in the country the Government of India has exempted cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrollment for the major ports,the exemption will be in effect in the ports of Mumbai, Cochin, Chennai, Mormugao and New Mangalore for a period of three years till December 31, 2020. The government has also taken steps for customer-friendly and hassle-free immigration regime for cruise passengers such as implementation of e-visa and e-Landing cards at the five ports.
If the roadmap by Bermelo & Ajamil and Ernst & Young is anything to go by, it says close to 4 million passengers are expected to visit India in the coming years, and 3 million passengers are expected to take cruises from the Mumbai Port. Looks like the Mumbai Port Trust is also getting ready to handle the traffic by modernising and upgrading services at the terminal. A Rs 197 crore revamp of the Mumbai port is on the cards to transform it into an international cruise destination.
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Article & Image: Money Control