India has never really been on the radar when it comes to cruises. It was always looked upon as an exotic nation with jungles and monuments. But with a coastline spanning more than 7500 kms and hundreds of miles of rivers, cruising has a whole new world of potential.
Cruise ship companies are taking notice of this, making the future of the cruise industry in India look brighter than ever before. Costa Cruises is one of the first international companies to start cruises in and to India.
Currently, the company offers five cruises in India along the western coast, going all the way up to the Maldives. The vessel has all the makings of a global cruise, including a variety of restaurants, bars, spa, fitness centre, outdoor games, luxury cabins with butler service, a casino and entertainment every evening.
But this isn’t all. Indians are taking more cruises than ever before. A recent report in a national daily suggested that 1.6 lakh Indians went on a cruise tour just in Singapore in 2018, representing a 27 per cent increase over the previous year. Singapore Tourism Board pointed out that India is its fastest growing market from among its top 15 source countries, and described Indians as high spenders.
MSC Cruises, a popular company plying Mediterranean waters, has witnessed a 40 per cent growth from the Indian sector and is planning to market more aggressively in the country. Cruise weddings and MICE excursions are important segments it is looking at as the company sees good performance from Tier II and III cities.
This is excellent news for the cruise industry in India. For staff, including those looking at cruise ship chefs jobs, it presents an excellent opportunity to stay within a better time zone, spend less time in travel to and from work, and engage with more patrons from the same nationality.
An increased number of cruises to and from India also offers better economic conditions. It boosts jobs both on land and at sea – in hospitality and seafaring. Seafaring jobs are mostly higher paid when compared to land-based jobs, which will in turn increase the spending power of the public and thereby boost the economy.
The potential India’s eastern coastline has been far from realised. From the Gangetic Delta and Kolkata’s historical significance and the beautiful beaches of Puri in Orissa to the colonial magnificence of Pondicherry and the southern-most tip of India at Kanyakumari, there is so much to discover. Additionally, cruise ship companies can include the gorgeous Andaman & Nicobar islands into their itinerary, offering excellent spots for snorkeling, surfing and scuba diving.
River cruises are another potential sector in India’s cruise tourism. Laid back cruises down the Ganga, Brahmaputra, Cauvery, Narmada, and numerous other smaller waterways such as the Irrawaddy and Periyar offer outstanding avenues for growth and expansion of cruise tourism into India’s hinterland.
Statistics clearly show that Indians are increasingly interested in cruise tourism around the world. It’s only a matter of time before cruise ship companies bring the game to India.