MV Empress: India’s first international cruise vessel sets sail to Sri Lanka from Chennai

MV Empress: India’s first international cruise vessel sets sail to Sri Lanka from Chennai

NEW DELHI: India’s first

international cruise


MV Empress

, set sail from Chennai to Sri Lanka on Monday after a flagging off ceremony by Union shipping minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

An international cruise tourism terminal, set up at a cost of Rs 17.21 crore at the Chennai Port, was also inaugurated. The facility is spread across 2,880 square metres and can host around 3,000 passengers.

The launch of the cruise service comes in the backdrop of the memorandum of understanding signed between Chennai Port and Waterways Leisure Tourism for domestic and international cruise service at the Incredible

India International Cruise

Conference in 2022.

Three port of calls

The newly-launched cruise will sail to three ports: Hambantota, Trincomalee and Kankesanturai in Sri Lanka.

The luxury cruise ship named Cordelia Empress will reach Hambantota on June 7. From there, it will sail to Trincomalee and dock there for a day before sailing back to Chennai on June 9.

The tour packages on board MV Empress will be offered for 2 nights, 3 nights, 4 nights and 5 nights.

Cordelia CEO Jurgen Bailom said the ship would carry 50,000 passengers from India to Sri Lanka in the next four months. Cordelia is operating cruises to Kochi, Goa, Mumbai and Lakshadweep.

Burgeoning cruise tourism

“With our rich heritage and culture around our coastal region, the potential of cruise tourism in India is immense. Today, as we launch the maiden cruise service between Chennai and Sri Lanka, it has ushered a new chapter in the cruise tourism sector in the country,” Sonowal said.

After a positive response to cruise services via 37 vessels for the domestic circuit, it is expected that the international circuit will further amp up the business of cruise tourism in the region. “As the affordability and access to world-class cruise services becomes a reality, people can enjoy and relish luxurious amenities, entertainment and breathtaking views,” said the minister.

Sonowal said three new international cruise terminals were expected to become operational by 2024.

“We expect that the volume of cruise ships will increase from 208 in 2023 to 500 in 2030 and up to 1,100 by 2047,” he said.

Following this, the number of passengers availing cruise services is also expected to rise from 9.50 lakh in 2030 to 45 lakh in 2047, said Sonowal.

“Plans are afoot to develop new cruise tourism terminals in Andamans, Puducherry and Lakshadweep circuits. We are also studying the feasibility of developing ferry circuits across India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar,” he added.

The ministry is also working on rolling out pilgrimage tours in Gujarat, cultural and scenic tours and ayurveda wellness tourism and heritage tourism to boost demand for cruise services in the western, southern and eastern coasts of the country, he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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