Indian cruise ship to launch operations to Sri Lanka

Cordelia Cruises is all set for its first international voyage to Sri Lanka in early June, and the new route is likely to boost the Indian cruise traffic by 25-30 per cent, according to a top official.

The cruise liner, currently operating for domestic destinations, has witnessed a revival in the post-COVID era. The occupancy rate has averaged between 78-85 per cent, with consecutive sold-out summer holiday cruises, the official added.

”Sri Lanka is truly the jewel of the Indian Ocean. The nation is moving forward with great determination and courage, and we stand with them in true partnership,” said Cordelia Cruises CEO Jurgen Bailom in an interview with PTI. ”We are certain that this alliance will prove (to be) successful and bring forth great opportunities for both nations and businesses,” he added.

Cordelia will sail on June 5 from Chennai. Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe is likely to attend a special reception planned on June 7 to celebrate the sailing debut, according to the official.

With the steady recovery of the Sri Lankan economy, Cordelia’s fortunes are likely to improve, prompting the company to consider acquiring new cruise ships in the near future.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is on the path to recovery after facing its worst economic crisis. The country welcomed over 7,00,000 tourists in 2022, including a high volume of traffic from India.

According to reports, in 2023, the country expects to host 1.55 million visitors and earn USD 2.7 billion in much-needed tourism revenue.

When asked about the possibility of a new cruise route to Sri Lanka, Bailom said, ”Yes, certainly. That’s on the cards. Indians love cruising, and they have welcomed us into their holidays and hearts”.

Earlier, Bailom expressed that although the Indian government was making efforts to promote cruises in India, the credit lines and banking systems of Indian lenders were not conducive for the cruise industry, which runs into millions.

Bailom also highlighted that Sri Lanka Tourism had been conducting aggressive international campaigns and roadshows, including in India, to regain momentum in the tourism industry, which was impacted by the events connected to the economic crisis.

To overcome the crisis, the International Monetary Fund approved a bailout loan of USD 3 billion to the Sri Lankan government in March. This support will be provided under the Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC). India has also extended a helping hand to the crisis-hit nation.

Currently, Cordelia Cruise operates a 210-metre-long cruise vessel– ‘The Empress’ with 11 decks. It sails to destinations such as Goa, Kochi and Lakshadweep on the west coast, departing from its home port in Mumbai.

Starting in the June-September period, ‘The Empress’ will sail on the east coast from Chennai, usually marking a seasonal transition in operations, ensuring cruise availability uninterrupted throughout the year. It may also cruise to other destinations on the east coast like Vizag. (PTI)