An achievable aspiration

Cruising holidays are no longer the once in a lifetime, expensive, unreachable dream it used to be. India is now a supply-driven market as cruise liners are always looking for new markets and itineraries.

We are seeing encouraging growth in cruise tourism in recent years with demand among Indian tourists taking cruise vacations. The idea of taking a cruise vacation seems to be slowly catching up and why not. Cruising features a number of options all in one product, from multiple destinations, accommodation, meals, amenities and activities, thus giving the traveller more value for money. Even the MICE segment in India is opting for onboard options.

Unlike visiting a resort, which locks the guest in one location, a cruise ship stops at several ports. Depending on the length of the cruise, the guest could see five or more different locations in one vacation. On a cruise ship, they don’t have to worry about making new travel arrangements for each spot.

Cruise lines also offer specials on their popular destinations all the time. So if they travel in the off-season, they can get a cruise package at a major discount. Cruise lines offer different package tiers throughout the year. A basic cruise package will include a small state room, the time on board, and one or two excursions. A more all-inclusive package will include airfare to and from the cruise ship’s port, a hotel stay at the port city the night prior to departure, transportation to the ship, and a decent-sized state room while on board.

Cruising is no longer the once in a lifetime, expensive, unreachable dream it used to be. In fact, it is an ideal alternative to a land-based holiday or a short break.

Theme cruises offer the opportunity to indulge in a favorite hobby and indulge in a variety of experiences from gourmet cuisine and fine wine to music, culture and history. Programmes may include special guest speakers, performances by entertainers, themerelated shore excursions and the chance to interact with leading figures in a particular field. Theme cruises are very popular and often sell out early. Cruising has expanded in recent decades from serving only the very rich to providing activities and entertainment options even for the middleclass vacationers. The cruise has also paved its way to young generation rather than being populated only by the aging tourist. Today cruise liners are wooing younger travellers with a number of activities such as casinos, top-notch food outlets, indoor golf, better entertainment and a more relaxed approach to cruising. As a result, there is significant uptake in demand for cruises from India’s young travellers between 18 and 35 years. The introduction of newer and larger cruise ships with entertainment facilities also attracts young honeymooners and HNIs.

We have seen that Indians are now increasingly open to trying newer itineraries for destinations such as Alaska, Scandinavia and South America. Popular destinations among Indians are Europe, especially the Mediterranean, Alaska and Bahamas. Clients look for itineraries that offer overnight stops at portof-calls and at disembarking cities. This provides flexibility with the choice of exploring the destinations’ evening entertainments, sightseeing, and nightlife.

(The views expressed are solely of the author. The publication may or may not subscribe to the same.)

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