When Waterways Leisure Tourism created Cordelia Cruises, it wanted to cover all the aspects important for India, right from great food, lovely ambience and total entertainment without having to leave the comfort of the country. Today, India’s premium cruise liner, Cordelia conceptualised for the Indians, is exactly catering to the way Indians love to holiday. True to its name, Cordelia aspires to promote and drive the cruise culture in India through experiences that are stylish, luxurious and most importantly, inherently Indian. Despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, the cruise line is in high demand with the Indian holiday seeker. TTJ interacts with Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Waterways Leisure Tourism, to know more about the current developments at Cordelia Cruises and also about the present cruising scenario in India.
– Prashant Nayak
Despite all the difficulties the cruise sector is facing due to the uncertainties of COVID-19, do you still believe that the domestic cruise industry has great potential in the India market?
The time for cruising has just begun and if I say so myself, it has begun very well indeed. That is a major part of this small victory. When people speak for your product and service is when they want it more than you want them to accept you. The response that our cruise has generated is reason enough to keep our chin up and sail through the pandemic or otherwise. This too shall pass.
The domestic cruise market in India is estimated at approx. $2 billion and a 15 per cent market share and we believe that India has a huge potential. Given the fact that cruising is growing up to 15 per cent a year here and India having the third largest coastline in the world with 7,600 kilometers, it also made automatic sense that India deserved its own cruise line.
Do you feel your product and services offer the same world-class cruise experience to your Indian guests?
Yes, absolutely, they do. Our vessel, the Empress, is a world-class one with top-of-line facilities which include swimming pools, theatres, auditoriums, a spa, lounge decks, a casino, bars, restaurants, adventure activities and a lot more.
What are your scheduled itineraries for the year 2022?
We are excited to start sailings from February 12 onwards. Our itineraries will cover locations like Goa, Cochin, Chennai, and Lakshadweep. We also have 2-nights/3-day trips that will go from Mumbai to the high seas and back.
What duration itineraries are most popular among Indian cruise clients?
Our five nights’ itineraries are the most popular with our travellers. Especially, the Lakshadweep route is the most preferred one. Lakshadweep is a magnet. Its inclusion amount to approximately 40 per cent of our draw. The island is pristine, untouched, and unexplored. Its inaccessibility is what is the biggest enchantment. Best of all, our day trip enables guests to get the best of the island before they return on board.
Have you planned any international cruise Itineraries for the monsoon 2022 period?
The international cruises will be planned soon to destinations like Sri Lanka. As of now, we have a cruise planned to Chennai in the first quarter of 2022.
Is your cruise ship going to implement new and stricter Covid-19 precautions and protocols? How are you planning now to give a seamless cruise experience, for guests booking on Cordelia?
Cordelia Cruises has been mindful of following all protocols laid down by the Government authorities. The situation with Covid-19 is very dynamic. Our rules and regulations are in tandem with the authorities and we have taken all possible measures to ensure the safety of our guests and also our workforce on-board.
As the only major player in the domestic Indian premium cruise industry, how do you plan to keep your travel partners and the travel industry engaged and motivated to promote your product?
Our travel partners and our guests are very important to us. Engaging regularly with both through relevant offers and schedules keeps us on our toes. It is important to keep our ears on the ground and adjust our sails to the winds in order to be on top of our game. Our teams are agile and doing just that!
Due to the recent developments at Genting Hong Kong, do you feel that there is now an enhanced opportunity for your cruises? Do you have any plans for a seasonal repositioning of your ship to Singapore?
The news about Genting Hong Kong is very unfortunate. Cruise businesses all over the world need a great push and support from authorities. We still need a lot of work to make this beautiful niche business the go-to vacation option for travellers. However, when it comes to Cordelia, we hope and endeavour to serve up a travel experience like never before.
As of now, we are catering to the Indian subcontinent. We will add more vessels as we go along and our plans will evolve in accordance.
Passenger cruise terminals at Indian Ports leave a lot to be desired, are you happy with the infra development at the Mumbai Port?
The port authorities have been exceptionally supportive and encouraging our efforts. We have been welcomed with open arms in the Mumbai, Goa, Gujarat, and Kochi ports. Yes, the passenger cruise terminals are yet to be developed in terms of experience and infrastructure and I am very optimistic that the State will go the extra mile to ensure that this newness in travel and tourism develops further and creates excellent opportunities for one and all.
Are any other ports in India also actively pursuing developments and enhancements to their cruise passenger terminals?
In recent announcements, Prime Minister has expressed his vision to boost tourism in India. So, in the next few years (by 2030) we are hoping for the inauguration of the International Cruise Terminal in Kerala, the Ro-Ro vessel service and other infrastructural developments to help boost the overall travel industry.