The Centre’s decision to develop new passenger terminals at five major ports will pave the way for international cruise liners to enter India, said a top official of the Pune-based CruiseBay.
CruiseBay offers 1,500 cruises from 35 cruise liners to over 100 destinations across the world. Right now, it has five offices and plans to take them to 15 by 2020. It opened an office in Chennai on Monday.
“Last year, 16 million Indian travelled overseas, of which only 1.80 lakh travelled on the high seas. It is hardly 1% and we are trying to create awareness about cruise travel by opening up offices in different parts of the country,” said Nikhil Thakurdas, director, CruiseBay. On the proposed passenger terminals, he said “In the first phase, the Centre has given grants to develop new passengers terminals in the west and east shores,” said Nikhil Thakurdas, director, CruiseBay. “The passenger terminals are being developed at Mumbai, Goa, Mangaluru, Kochi and Chennai ports.”
“Once the port infrastructure improves, many international cruise liners such as MSC and Costa Cruises will definitely look at entering India. But first, we have to improve the infrastructure on the east coast,” he said.
Stating the Mumbai-Goa corridor was the most sought after among cruise travellers, he said: “We are yet to see what kind of development activities have been planned at Chennai Port.”
“But, things are set to change with the launch of ‘Karnika’ luxury cruise by Essel Group next month along the Indian coastline which would operate for eight months. It would also include a schedule from Chennai to Visakhapatnam,” he added.