Kochi

India’s first full-fledged global cruise terminal in Kochi

Fun time: Passengers enjoy a sunny sky from the 14th deck of cruise ship Costa Victoria that arrived in Kochi on Wednesday, carrying over 2,000 tourists and 800 crew members.

Fun time: Passengers enjoy a sunny sky from the 14th deck of cruise ship Costa Victoria that arrived in Kochi on Wednesday, carrying over 2,000 tourists and 800 crew members.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

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Facility to come up at Ernakulam wharf in Willingdon Island by February 2020

India’s first full-fledged international cruise terminal that is coming up at Ernakulam wharf in Willingdon Island will be commissioned in February 2020, Cochin Port Trust (CPT) chairperson M. Beena said on Wednesday.

The ₹25.72-crore cruise terminal with facilities to handle 5,000 tourists will be spread over 12,200 sft.

It will bring under one roof personnel of Customs, Bureau of Immigration and CISF, speeding up paperwork.

“Plans are also afoot to have regular helicopter services from the terminal to different tourist locales in Kerala. Its commissioning will see the revamping of the wharf, an area to stage traditional art forms, and the availability of ATM and food kiosks on the premises. There will also be a permanent space for selling artefacts and others to tourists, aimed at improving visitor experience,” she said.

Ms. Beena was addressing the media on board Costa Victoria, an Italian cruise vessel that sailed into Kochi from Venice, with over 2,000 guests. The vessel arrived from Venice for operating in the Indian Ocean region up to March. Socratis Sklavos, captain of the vessel, said Costa would launch its first LNG-powered cruise vessel Costa Smeralda in December.

Task force

On berthing charges at ports, Ms. Beena said it had been unified for all Indian ports post-2017.

“Moreover, a task force, comprising Shipping and Tourism Secretaries, has been set up to promote cruise tourism in the country. We, at Cochin Port, aim to exceed the expectations of domestic and international cruise liners in the coming years and would like many more to dock in God’s own Country,” she added.

Costa Victoria will operate three- to seven-day packages till March on Kochi-Maldives, Kochi-Mumbai and Mumbai-Maldives routes. The one-way base tariff for the three-day Kochi-Maldives cruise is approximately ₹26,800 for adults and ₹8,200 for those below 18 years of age, inclusive of food and entertainment. This is the fourth season that the vessel is home-porting in Indian waters. It can accommodate 2,400 guests and 800 crew members.

The response to cruise tours from Kochi has been increasing over the years, with the number of tourists (mostly Indians) boarding from the city going up from 200 in 2016 to 800 this year. “An organisation called Indian Cruise Liner Association [INCLA] has been formed to apprise the Centre of steps that should be taken to promote cruise tourism. On its part, Cochin Port Trust introducing electric buggy carts to ferry tourists from the berthing terminal to the vehicle-parking area is a step in the right direction,” said Nalini Gupta, head of Costa Cruises in India.

It is noteworthy that around 1.20 million Chinese and 2.30 lakh Indians travelled in cruise ships last year. The number of Keralites opting for cruises is increasing at the rate of 25% each year. They include individuals, families, and corporate groups.

An employee of the vessel, Kedar, who took media persons to amenities spread over 14 floors of the vessel, showed an Indian buffet counter, an arena where Indian dance and art forms are staged, activity spaces which include spaces for live and light music, spa, kids’ play area, casino, conference room, and theatre.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:54:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/indias-first-full-fledged-global-cruise-terminal-in-kochi/article29966979.ece

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