Costa Crociere S.p.A of Italy starts a cruise line service to Maldives on December 16 with Mumbai as a home port where services start and end, attempting to open a market where another operator has earlier failed.
Costa Crociere, Italy’s biggest travel group and Europe’s top cruise ship company, which runs cruise service under the Costa Cruises brand name, plans to run the service between Mumbai and Maldives until March 18, 2017 when the cruise season typically ends, a spokesman for India’s Director General of Shipping (DGS) said.
The Genoa, Italy-based Costa is a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise ship operator. The cruise operator will deploy its ship named ‘Costa neoClassica’ for the service.
In January 2010, Louis / Celestyal Cruises, world’s fifth-largest cruise ship operator, stopped its Cochin-Maldives itineraries it had started just 40 days earlier, due to expensive port charges. Costa Crociere, will announce the launch of Mumbai-Maldives-Mumbai itinerary on July 18th.
Louis / Celestyal had been the only luxury company to run cruises out of India after the government eased taxes to encourage the cruising industry. Louis had planned to operate Cochin-Maldives-Cochin and Cochin-Colombo-Cochin cruises.
Another impediment to cruise ships is taxing of some onship activities. A cruise ship has to sail some 200 nautical miles from India's coast to be exempt from tax on serving liquor or casino operations.
India's government has been encouraging foreign cruise vessels to undertake coastal runs. In July 2008, the cabinet approved a cruise shipping policy exempting operators from income-tax, excise duty, customs duty, corporate tax and service tax. But the policy was never implemented, and a shipping ministry official attributed it to lack of co-ordination between various government departments.
In March 2009, to encourage global luxury ships to cruise in India, country's government eased laws that had barred foreign registered vessels from carrying passengers between Indian ports without a licence from India’s maritime regulator. The relaxation is valid for a 10 years period.