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In recent years, both India and the world have witnessed a tremendous surge in cruise tourism. Recognizing the sector’s potential, India took a significant step on June 5 by inaugurating its first international cruise vessel, MV Empress. The cruise set sail from Chennai to Sri Lanka, covering three ports during its 5-day journey. This development eliminates the need for Indians to travel abroad to experience an international cruise.

Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated the cruise in Chennai, hailing it as a historic milestone for the maritime sector. He emphasised that this initiative would not only boost tourism but also create employment opportunities. Given the overwhelming response, the opening of the international circuit is expected to further enhance cruise tourism. Official figures indicate that 85,000 passengers have already availed themselves of domestic cruises offered by 37 vessels.

MV Empress Journey Highlights

Departing from Chennai, MV Empress will travel through three Sri Lankan ports: Hambantota, Trincomalee, and Kankesanturei. The cruise will make stops at these ports during its voyage at sea before returning to Chennai.

Cost and Packages

The tour package for MV Empress starts upwards at INR 86,383 for two people over three nights. The duration of the package can range from two to five nights, depending on the desired length of stay. The maximum duration for an individual on the cruise is five days. Chennai’s International Cruise Terminal, built at a cost of INR 17.21 crores, serves as the departure point for the cruise.

Expansion Plans for International Cruise Vessels

Union Minister Sonowal announced plans to complete and operate three new international cruise terminals by 2024. He also stated that the number of cruise ships would increase from 208 in 2023 to 500 in 2030, and potentially reach 1100 by 2047. The central government aims to develop world-class infrastructure to boost cruise tourism and maritime trade.

The minister further highlighted the immense potential of cruise tourism in India, given the country’s rich coastal heritage and culture. The launch of the maiden cruise service between Chennai and Sri Lanka marks the beginning of a new chapter in the cruise tourism sector. As affordable access to world-class cruise services becomes a reality, people can indulge in luxurious amenities, entertainment, and breathtaking views.

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