Tomorrow, October 30 (Sunday), the season for cruise ships in India will start, in style.
More than 2,000 passengers will sail on a luxury liner in Mumbai, such a big number probably for the first time from the harbour.
“Our first ship, Genting Dream, debuts in November 2016, and sails out from Hong Kong or Guangzhou. Genting Dream brings our guests inspirational luxury on board and takes them to exciting destinations in Vietnam, including Ha Long Bay and Da Nang,” says Dream Cruises that will operate its first vessel.
“There will welcome ceremony and celebrations to mark the start of the season,” said Sanjay Bhatia, chairman of MbPT. Cruise season for Indian shores is between October and May.
“As it is a new ship, we will welcome it in a grand manner. Two tugs will spray water canon in Mumbai harbour to welcome it, while on the shore, on Saturday, there will be Ballard Estate Festival for a day,” said Gautam Dey, senior deputy traffic manager and in-charge of business development at MbPT.
This cruise season a total of 59 passenger ships will visit the passenger cruise terminal at Ballard Pier. Out of this 44 will be ‘Port of Call’ and rest 15 ‘Turnaround Operation’. Port of Call is a stoppage for a ship on its journey as compared to ‘Turnaround Operation’ wherein the itinerary of a ship starts or end at the port. Last season there were 37 ships, the year prior 40.
Earlier this year, MbPT tweaked its rules to promote cruise tourism.
Among the changes made were giving priority to passenger cruise vessels over cargo ships.
Earlier, cruise operators had to book a berth with MbPT six months in advance; now they will be given a nod even a day prior to sailing in.
Even the charges of moving out cargo vessels so that the cruise liner can embark and disembark passengers too have been reduced.
With these, the authorities and the tourism industry are hopeful of a revival not just in Mumbai but also in other ports like Cochin and Goa that are popular with tourists.