A Cruise Ship Holiday Means Ambling In Luxury. (Stock Photo)

Cruise ship holidays: Affordable and accessible than ever before

Make a short Mumbai-Goa trip or travel for days as the ship takes you to multiple cities

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

Recently on June 5, India inaugurated its first international cruise vessel, MV Empress which was flagged off from Chennai to Sri Lanka. This means that Indians no longer need to go abroad to board a ship to get international cruise experience.

The opening of the international circuit is expected to boost cruise tourism further. Cruise gives you an opportunity to explore several cities, countries, destinations for one voyage. The number of itineraries is so great that everyone can find something special for himself.

Mumbai based 35-year-old investment banker Ahilya Ahuja who likes to take a cruise once every few years with her husband says, “Cruises are very convenient – no matter how many cities or countries you visit, you sleep in the same comfortable bed. And you don’t have to pack and unpack your trunk all the time. Also, they give you a wide choice – you can have dinner in the evening dress or just in shorts and some T-shirt. You can attend some Broadway musical or eat popcorn while watching movies under the stars. You can go ashore or spend the whole day onboard. All of that is just your choice! It comes with comfortable accommodation with chic cabins, SPA, gym, beauty salons and other features to feel like queen or king of the liner.”

Cruising is a unique way of traveling, it allows the traveler to experience life in the slow lane, surrounded by nature and abundant opportunities to explore towns and cities along the way. “Cruising is a very tranquilizing experience in natural surroundings, away from the pressures of life, with great food and entertainment – ideal for a romantic escapade or just for a quality getaway,” says Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel, “Some popular cruises companies in India include: Codelia Cruises, Antara cruises, The Oberoi Vrinda Luxury Kerala Cruises, Mahabaahu Cruise, Sunderbans Luxury Cruises, and more.” Talking about India’s top-rated cruises, he mentions the two popular luxury cruises in India which include the Brahmaputra River Cruise (ten nights cruise between Guwahati and Jorhat-Dibrugarh) and Ganges Heritage River Cruise (six nights cruise starting with the Howrah Bridge and moving on to tour Kolkata’s British colonial past in Barrackpore, Chandan Nagar, Seram pore and Bandel). The average price range for a river cruise ranges between Rs. 50,000 – over 1,00,000 per person depending on factors like number of days of sailing, offerings, amenities, activities on-board, etc.

India has the 3rd largest coastline in the world, Indians have a natural affinity towards the sea and activities around it, says Nalini Gupta, Managing Director of Costa Cruise India, “Since cruise liners have now started having itineraries closer to home this experience has become real. Also, the cruise product has everything that an Indian wants, from a variety of food, entertainment and port calls all included in the cruising price, so Indians enjoy the concept and now want to include a cruise as part of their holiday experiences across the globe. While cruise itineraries which depart from ports close to home like Mumbai, Cochin and Singapore have been the most popular, we have also seen a surge in demand for cruises in the Middle East, Mediterranean, North Europe, Alaska and more exotic locales like Antarctica.”

You can opt for packages ranging from two days to seven days and even more. For instance, cruise companies like Costa Cruise have packages such as 2 nights Mumbai High Seas; 3 Nights: Mumbai – Goa Mormugao (India) – Goa Mormugao (India) – Mumbai; 3 Nights: Cochin (India) – Agatti Island (India, Lakshadweep) – Cruising – Mumbai or 5 Nights: Mumbai – Cruising – Cochin (India) – Agatti Island (India, Lakshadweep) – Cruising – Mumbai. Then the international routes are 4 Nights: Abu Dhabi – Doha (Qatar) – Cruising – Muscat (Oman) – Dubai; 7 Nights: Savona (Italy) – Civitavecchia (Italy) – Ajaccio (Corsica) – Cruising – Palma De Mallorca (Spain) – Valencia (Spain) – Marseilles (France) – Savona (Italy); 7 Nights: Barcelona (Spain) – Palma De Mallorca (Spain) – Cruising – Palermo (Sicily) – Civitavecchia (Italy) – Savona (Italy) – Marseilles (France); 7 Nights: Kiel (Germany) – Copenhagen (Denmark) – Cruising – Hellesylt (Norway) – Geiranger (Norway) – Alesund (Norway) – Stavanger (Norway) – Cruising – Kiel (Germany).

Ballpark starting rate for all is approx 10,000 per person per night – which includes cabin fare, all meals, entertainment, travel to different exotic ports. Most of these companies have a Kids below 18 cruise free policy, whereby when sharing the cabin with 2 adults, only port taxes and gratuities are chargeable on most itineraries except peak dates.

There are theme tours also. If you are a big fan of ayurveda, you can opt for the South coast tour. Says Rajeev Kale – President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India) Limited, “Four theme-based coastal destination circuits such as Gujarat Pilgrimage tours, West Coast – Cultural and scenic tours, South Coast – Ayurvedic wellness tours and East Coast – Heritage tourism have been developed. Luxury cruises are coming into vogue with state-of-the-art amenities and premium dining and entertainment experiences. Additionally, the upcoming sailings of Costa Serena in November further showcases the high demand for cruising among Indian travelers. The Central government aims to develop world-class infrastructure to boost cruise tourism and with the inauguration of India’s first international cruise vessel MV Empress (Chennai to Sri Lanka), Indians can have an international cruise experience without travelling abroad.”

The Pros and Cons

Cruises represent a unique value proposition for travelers: an all-inclusive holiday without the hassle of multiple check-in/check-out and transfers.

They do fit almost every budget and lifestyle if you do a little research. And you will find that they are not just for the wealthy. There are some budget cruises out there that are really popular to all sorts of traveller. Travelers looking for the most bang for their vacation buck should zero in on these affordable cruise lines. These every-so-often cruises make great short getaways that won’t break the bank. Some examples are Mumbai to Goa cruise, Alleppey Houseboats, Glass Bottom Cruises At Andaman Islands. Some of the Yatra.com packages on budget cruises include the likes of Alluring Gangtok cruise Rs 17,999 for 3 Nights which includes meals, flights, accommodation, transfer, sightseeing (and the price is per person on twin sharing) or Fascinating Andaman with photoshoot and Glass Bottom Ride Rs 24,057 for 4 Nights; 4 nights -Munnar-Thekkady-Alleppey Rs 10,999.

On the flipside, sea sickness is real. For those having sea sickness or motion sickness must avoid cruise itineraries that traverse stormy waters over long periods of time. One way to avoid seasickness on a cruise is to get enough rest. Lack of sleep and exhaustion can make you more susceptible to motion sickness. Says 52 year old Delhi based entrepreneur Ambrish Gupta who undertakes cruise travel once in a while, “The only down vote I could give any cruise is that they do not spend enough time in port(s) and that there is often no way to visit interior destinations in many instances. So, when the cruise itinerary says ‘Paris’, they really mean Le havre or Calais; when it says London, they mean Tilbury, Dover or Southampton and then a long bus ride. More overnights would be helpful and enjoyed.”

But for the diehard fans of waters, they often say that we wanted freedom, open air and adventure. And we found it on the sea. For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self we find in the sea.

Price Chart

Name of Cruise Route Duration Cost per person on twin share cabin occupancy (Rs)
Costa Cruises Barcelona-Marseille-Savona-Barcelona (New Route) 3N/4D 30,260
Royal Caribbean Cruises – Spectrum of the Seas Singapore – Malaysia – Singapore 2N/3D 46,415
Cordelia Cruise Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai 2N/3D 52,240
Cordelia Cruise Mumbai-Kochi-Lakshadweep- Mumbai 5N/6D 65,255
Dream Liner World Cruise to Singapore 2N/3D 18,170

Credits: TechSci Research

Source: Business Standard https://www.business-standard.com/finance/personal-finance/cruise-ship-holidays-affordable-and-accessible-than-ever-before-123062900235_1.html

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