New policy makes India a key port of call for cruise operators

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on August 13, 2018 Published on August 13, 2018

In 2017-18, 162,660 cruise passengers called at Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi , Kolkata, New Mangalore and Mormugao   -  Prashant Waydande

Buoyed by a recent announcement by Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari that the government plans to invest in cruise tourism and port infrastructure, operators are lining up to take a share of the huge Indian market.

Tirun Travel Marketing, India representative of Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises, has announced India-specific sailings on Celebrity Constellation. The 6- and 8-night itineraries ex-Kochi and Mumbai are designed keeping the Indian tourist in mind, who can sail through ports in India and the UAE.

To make cruise tourism interesting, Royal Caribbean, the Berklee College of Music in Boston, US, and technologists have created SoundSeeker, an Artificial Intelligence tool that enables travellers create soundtracks for the photographs they take during their trip. As tourists upload photos onto the SoundSeeker website, they are analysed by the AI tool for colour, landscape, backdrop, body language and facial expressions, and soundtrack added.

Asian cruise operator Pandaw is to devote two additional ships to India. Known for its cruises in South-East Asia, Pandaw plans to move in December one of its small river ships, RV Orient Pandaw, to ply on the lower Ganga. A second ship, RV Katha Pandaw, is to sail the upper Ganga, and take tourists to Varanasi.

Next year, Pandaw is to launch a cruise on the Brahmaputra. The company's luxury motor yacht is expected to call in the Andaman Islands in early 2020.

MSC Cruises has announced sailings on MSC Lirica from Dubai to Mumbai.

In 2017-18, 1,62,660 cruise passengers called at Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, New Mangalore and Mormugao.

Noting that every three cruise passengers generate one job for the liner, Abhishek Chandra, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, had said: “If the numbers increase it is going to bring in more jobs. Plus, the contribution to the economy... For instance, the handicrafts industry could get a major boost.”

Published on August 13, 2018
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