If you want the journey to matter more than the destination, sail on a cruise ship. Cruises are about luxury, leisure and getting off the ship to see new places.
Popular Indian cruise destinations include Goa, Mumbai, Kochi, Lakshadweep Islands, Chennai, and Diu. Akshita Lakhani, a 44-year-old corporate executive, and her family recently took the Cordelia Cruise from Goa to Mumbai via Lakshadweep. “It was my first time on a cruise. Getting away from a bustling city to listless hallowed spots and dwelling in the bedlam of sights of nature and endless water views was relaxing. The ocean views are simply majestic, and calming,” she said.
Lakhani’s cruise ship had a casino and the travel package covered food served at two restaurants on board. She was disappointed with the embarkation process at Goa, finding port infrastructure poor. Disembarkation at Mumbai, her home, was cumbersome too. Internet on the ship was weak and expensive, as the cruise company had warned her it would be.
Only the rich could afford a cruise once but now an increasing number of middle-income travellers are taking up such annual holidays. Cruise vacations are value for money as they include food, entertainment and new places to see.
“Cruises represent a great value proposition: an all-inclusive holiday packed with entertainment/activities across age groups, diversity of dining experiences and sailing to multiple locations with on-shore sightseeing tours–without the hassle of check-in/check-out, transfers, etc,” said Daniel D’Souza, president and country head, holidays, SOTC Travel.
“Another USP is that cruises are payable in Indian Rupee making it an added advantage. A cruise holiday offers strong appeal to our segments of multi-generational families, millennials/young working professionals and couples/ honeymoon segments alike,” he said.
When the coronavirus hit the world late 2020, the cruise industry’s image took a hit as ships were barred from ports and people were quarantined on them for weeks. As vaccinations slow down the coronavirus, cruise travel is surging. “This commenced with domestic cruises, where between Thomas Cook and SOTC we have booked over 3,500 customers since lifting of restrictions. Our international cruise segment is growing at 35-40% month-on-month,” said Rajeev Kale, president and country head, Holidays, MICE, Visa-Thomas Cook (India) Limited.
Short haul and easy visa destinations are in demand: these include Singapore sailings of Genting Dream and Royal Caribbean Cruises; also Middle East Costa Cruises sailings between November to March covering Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Bahrain. Cruise trips of 2-4 nights that cost Rs 22,000 per person for a twin-share cabin is a popular offer, shows data from SOTC. Luxury offers include Alaska, Scandinavian and Caribbean cruises, priced between Rs 200,000 and Rs 10,00,000 per person. There is “cruise to nowhere” trend: a cruise experience for celebrating a special occasion or for a short getaway.
“While an inside cabin is at an entry level pricing, our data indicates preference for ocean view cabins and suites reflecting clear appetite for higher spends,” said SOTC’s D’Souza.
Travel website Yatra.com said the demand for luxury cruise travel is rising after the pandemic. “The best-selling packages for cruise travel include Cordelia Cruise (Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai) 2N/3D costing Rs 45,435 and Goa-Lakshadweep-Mumbai 5N/6D costing Rs 99,781,” said Aditya Gupta, senior vice president, hotels and holidays, at Yatra.com.
“There is a robust interest observed amongst travellers for international cruise travel as it provides an opportunity to explore interesting places in one go. DreamLiner Resort World Cruise to Singapore is picking up as the bestselling and most preferred package for 2 nights at Rs 25000 per person,” he said.
Preparing to cruise
Travel to some destinations require special visas and authorisation. One must carefully read the instructions and carry all documents before boarding.
There are several steps to consider before embarking on a cruise holiday to ensure a hassle-free holiday experience. “It is important to select the itinerary wisely, keeping in mind the age of children/seniors travelling and health and safety should be prioritised. Each cruise line and ship has a different ambience and caters to different customer segments. It is important to keep a budget in mind to determine the length of stay, avail onboard services and have the best cruise experience without overspending,” said Thomas Cook’s Kale.
Travellers with health issues must consult their doctor before planning a cruise holiday. If you are prone to seasickness, choose a cabin located in the lower and central part of the ship. Avoid a cabin close to the edge of the ship or high up.
Cruise companies also have strict cancellation rules that are expensive if you do so. So going for cruise insurance is always a good idea.
|Name of Cruise||Route||Duration||Cost per person on twin share cabin occupancy|
|Costa Cruises||Barcelona – Rome – Naples – Barcelona||7N/8D||INR 66,500/-|
|Royal Caribbean Cruises – Spectrum of the Seas||Singapore – Malaysia – Singapore||2N/3D||INR 25,000 /-|
|Cordelia Cruise||Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai||2N/3D||INR 45,435/-|
|Cordelia Cruise||Mumbai at sea- Goa-Lakshadweep- Mumbai||5N/6D||INR 99,781 /-|
|Dream Liner||World Cruise to Singapore||2N/3D||INR 25,000/-|
Credits: TechSci Research