‘Partnerships are crucial for us’

Currently operating from India throughout the year, Cordelia Cruises plans to expand to the Middle East next year and in the long term, when it has three ships, it will allocate them at different ports in India, reveals Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Waterways Leisure & Cordelia Cruises.

Harshal Ashar

How has the cruise industry evolved over the past few years?

There are two distinct segments in the cruise industry–cruises that stop in India en route to other destinations, and those that start and end in India, primarily catering to Indian passengers. The latter was our focus. Post-pandemic, we’ve seen an upswing as people are keen on leisure experiences like ours.

Which routes and destinations does Cordelia have in mind?

Currently, we operate from India throughout the year. From September to June, Mumbai serves as our homeport, cruising to Goa, Kochi, and Lakshadweep. During the monsoon, we switch to the Eastern coast, cruising from Chennai to three Sri Lankan ports–Hambantota, Trincomalee, and Jaffna. Next year, we plan to expand to Middle East and in the long term, when we have three ships, we would have them at different ports and explore new ports like Kolkata, Port Blair, Diu, New Mangalore, Porbandar, Vizag, Pondicherry and many more, along with ports we are already calling to. This positioning is necessary to market and operate in India.

How is Cordelia different from other cruises?

Indians deserve their own cruise company. Cordelia offers essentially all Indian experiences to its guests: watching cricket, Bollywood entertainment, Jain food, vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine. It prides itself on doing everything the ‘Indian way’, providing a home away from home experience.

Any new innovations adopted by the company?

We have developed our entire booking engine and reservation system in India. Since our inception, we have been continuously advancing on technology and tools to embolden our partners and guests. We have developed a mobile application that provides passengers with a range of features and services. For the ease of the customers, we have deployed a payment system that allows user to pay in multiple transactions, which in turn has resulted in one of the highest conversion rates. While we have most of the technology build inhouse by our tech team, all our vendors with respect to technology are India based. We are keen towards exploring the Indian startup fever and unicorns. We also have an app that offers functionalities such as online check-in, digital boarding passes, itinerary management, onboard activity schedules and all the necessary information. It helps to enhance convenience and allows passengers to have information at their fingertips. Other technology such as the cruise card, serves as a personal identification document and will enable passengers to charge shipboard purchases, used as a cabin key card, and allows the traveller to embark and disembark the ship in ports and acts as a souvenir of the wonderful experience customers had onboard.

What are your plans for working with travel agents?

We have put a lot of effort into marketing. We are heavily focused on B2B/B2C, MICE, corporates, TAS, and OTMS, which means we target and focus on all segments of the industry. Our product caters to everyone. We believe the tourism sector is tightly knit and partnerships are crucial for us. We welcome everyone to sell our product. We invest, and our partners have a superior product to sell. This approach guarantees them a substantial earning opportunity in terms of commission, which ranges between 10-18 per cent. We are also expanding our B2B team to increase engagement and synergies with the travel agent community.

 

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