Cruise Market Shows Signs of Growth in India
As cruise lines expand rapidly in the East Asian market, the fastest growing in the world, India remains largely underdeveloped – but with new offerings this year and next, that may be set to change.
India’s relatively low number of cruise port calls may be due to infrastructure limitations. "India urgently needs to improve on its cruise port and cruise tourism infrastructure for a more enhanced experience for cruise guests and to better accommodate ships, especially the larger ones,” said Ratna Chadha, CEO of Tirun Travel Marketing, which represents RCL in India. “The infrastructure of the ports in India does leave a lot to be desired . . . Our ports are mostly being used for freight forwarding and not for tourism. There is no uniformity between the ports.”
But several lines have not been deterred by the absence of modern terminal facilities. MSC already calls at Goa and Cochin on its long-distance "grand voyage" tours, and Royal Caribbean sent its newest and most sophisticated Quantum-class vessel, the Ovation of the Seas, to Cochin in June. This November, Norwegian Cruise Lines will send a ship to India for the first time. Departing from Dubai, Norwegian Star will call at Goa, Mangalore and Kochi, then on to Sri Lanka. She will return in March 2017 after a series of SE Asian cruises.
Newly formed promoters Monarch Cruise will offer a cricket- and Bollywood-themed cruise with voyage legs to Kochi and Mumbai early next year, with well-known cricketers and movie stars aboard.
"There is a lot of excitement, not only among the Monarch team, but also for the cricketers and the stars," cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar told the Economic Times. "With sportsmen, Bollywood stars, chefs, DJs and comedians coming together, it's going to be formidable experience on board."
"India has a huge untapped potential when it comes to the cruising industry and with the government being proactive to support the industry, it helps players like us," said Josh Hill, vice-chairman of Monarch. The firm's series of eight themed cruises will be held on the Star Cruises flagship, SuperStar Virgo.
Carnival subsidiary Costa Cruises has recently announced plans for a series of sailings out of Mumbai on the Costa neoClassica this winter. The neoClassica will carry passengers to the Maldives via Mangaluru and Kochi, with return trips calling at Goa. Passengers can opt for the seven-day outbound leg from Mumbai, the return voyage from the Maldives, or both.