Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE: Cruise ship Columbus, with a host of tourists on board, arrived at New Mangalore Port (NMP) at Panambur near here on Friday. According to Traffic Manager of the New Mangalore Port Trust S. Gopalakrishna, the ship had 284 people on board, including crew. The passengers, mostly tourists from Germany, Austria, France and the United Kingdom, had visited several tourist spots in and around Dakshina Kannada.

Mr. Gopalakrishna said that 28 tourists disembarked and left by flight to Agra, while the rest visited Panambur and then returned to the ship, which set sail in the evening. He said Columbus was the 17th cruise vessel to have visited the port this financial year. Another ship, Ocean Odyssey, was expected to arrive at the port on March 26, he said. Mr. Gopalakrishna said this was a record number of cruise ship arrivals at the port, and added that 14 such ships had landed at the port last year.

He said this rise was because the port was offering attractive concessions in berth-hire charges to cruise vessel operators. Further, the port's administration was giving priority to the handling of these ships, he added.

Welcoming visitors

He said the management was taking pains to ensure that visitors who arrived in cruise vessels at the port felt welcome, in an effort to attract more cruise tour operators to use the port.

It sought to make it easy for visitors to clear customs' and immigration checks without any hassles. A cruise lounge would also be set up for the benefit of visitors, Mr. Gopalakrishna said, and added that this would be ready for use in the next three months.