Mumbai’s cruising season is set to resume this month, as the familiar 'Empress' — the luxury cruise liner owned by Indian cruise company, Cordelia — will make its way down the West Coast, covering destinations like Kochi, Goa and the Lakshadweep Islands.
Cordelia expects to ferry 120,000 passengers over the next eight months, however, the bigger picture makes for an even better reading: over the next half-a-decade, the company hopes to operate as many as five cruise ships.
Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO of Cordelia Cruises aims to have one ship all year around on the East Coast. Bailom is also looking grow the market to two million passengers, and also generate employment opportunities for 200,000 people at the same time.
India’s Ministry of Shipping has also bet big on the cruise market. The ministry has projected a 10x growth over the next decade in terms of passenger count estimating that the cruise market valued at USD 100 million could swell to USD 5.5 billion, in this period.
The growth already seems evident as for the first time in its operations, the Empress serviced the Chennai-Vizag market, ferrying 49,000 passengers between June and September. In this period, Cordelia reported a passenger occupancy of 100 percent for its two-day cruises and 65 to 85 percent for the five-day cruise.
While Cordelia hopes to control 50 percent of the Indian cruise market, online travel agencies are also factoring in their own growth prospects as they facilitate bookings for the eight-month-long West Coast cruise.
India doesn’t have to look any further than China for an indication of how rapidly the cruise market can rise — non-existent as a cruise market only a decade ago, but the second-largest one just seven years later. In 2018 alone, nearly 2.4 million Chinese nationals went on cruises in stark contrast to the cruise passenger count of 87,000 in 2011.