Travel experts say that cruise holidays among Indians are no longer restricted to the well-heeled. By Team Viva
For a long time, cruise travel was looked upon as a trip for the elite and people with extendable budgets. It has always been under the ‘expensive’ segment and for an exclusive set of people and age group.
However, looking at the current scenario, travel experts are pointing towards the rising trend of cruise travel in India among both solo and couple travellers, who are increasingly exploring this option. They say that Indian travellers have started realising that cruising is not a luxury but rather an exotic experience.
Varun Chadha, COO, Tirun, tells us that if we look at it through a gender-specific perspective, around 45 per cent females and 55 per cent males are shifting towards cruise travel options.
Talking about the change that has come about over the past 10 years, Chadha says, “Cruise tourism has started rising in India. There is more relevant deployment. We have seen that more people have cruised in the last three years and hence, more conversations are taking place. There’s more media exposure and even the government is talking of promoting cruise tourism within our coastline. Some cruise ships are plying seasonally and repositioning, hence it’s a natural evolution.”
He lists that Tirun’s three cruises — Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises — have witnessed 25 per cent CAGR over the last three years. He says, “The cruise travel business from India is likely to rise exponentially from two lakh passengers annually at present to 40 lakh a year within the next five to 10 years.”
Varun notes that through sailing, guests can enjoy the beauty of some of Asia’s most stunning ports of call including Dubai, Muscat in Oman, Cochin, Penang in Malaysia and Singapore.
Varun says that they have observed 20 per cent of the people are MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) travellers and 80 per cent make sure for the leisure travel.
He says, “In today’s day and age, where couples are very specific about the kind of wedding they wish to have and every bride and groom is sure that they want to do something grand and different to celebrate the next phase of their life, a cruise wedding is just the way to go. Not only can you bring your friends and family together for a few days of fun and frolic, it is also the most hassle-free event. With the growing need for innovation in the wedding ceremonies, Royal Carribean International has seen a 200 per cent rise in demands from the couples wanting to tie the knot on a cruise.”
Varun further explains that a cruise wedding is highly customised as it has to suit every budget. It is actually one of the most cost-effective options for those couples and families looking to have a celebration that makes a mark. Having a wedding on-board a cruise ship not only guarantees luxury, but also offers the to-be-weds a chance to tie the knot with the ocean breeze, the azure skies, the vast waters and picturesque locales for company. The best part is that everything – from the guests’ accommodation, their entertainment, food, the wedding planning, venue, décor, service — is taken care of in one all-inclusive package.
According to the company, MICE travel has emerged as the most important sub sectors of tourism industry. Many corporates plan trips with their employees to stay more connected with them and also to encourage them to boost their efficiency.
Varun apprises top 10 cities from where they have received a demand for cruise booking — Delhi, Mumbai, Ahemdabad, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Surat, Kochi and Raipur.
Manmeet Ahluwalia, marketing head of Expedia, says, “Cruise industry has been a growing segment in India and in the last five years, we have seen travellers’ interest surging for the same. The advantage of cruises is that they let the travellers take land tours/excursion trips when they anchor at major ports which enables consumers to cover tourist destinations before resuming the cruise. These holidays not only offer travellers the choice of exploring new destinations on anchoring but also a host of activities like indoor games, swimming, movies and live entertainment. It gives a plethora of entertainment at one place and is hence rising up in the list of choices of vacations being opted by Indians.”
As per Expedia-CAPA Outbound Travel Outlook Report, over the last five years the market has tripled in size from 50,000 to 1,50,000 cruise passengers from India and international cruise lines are increasingly visiting the country’s ports. She adds, “Apart from Singapore, The Mediterranean and Alaska are the two most popular destinations outside Southeast Asia.”
Neelu Singh, CEO and Director, Ezeego1 says that Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangkok and Hong Kong are major cruise hubs for Indians.
She explains that leading cruise liners like Star Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Dream Cruises, Princess Cruises are seeing a hike in the number of visitors this summer. Besides sailing out of Singapore, people are also exploring cruises from Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines.”
Naresh Rawal, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Asia Pacific, Genting Cruise Lines noticed through years that Australia and New Zealand have a beautiful coastline that can only be accessed through a cruise. Keeping this in mind they decided to launch a ship — Explorer Dream this year to cater to Indian market. Besides this, he says, McLeod Islands in Thailand and Miyakojima and Naha, the Southern Islands of Japan are the hot new destinations in Asia.
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