In line with the plan to make the city of Mumbai the gateway to international cruising tourism in India, the MbPT (Mumbai Port Trust) decided to build a massive passenger terminal at its docks.
Rs 250-CR (crore project), flush with modern amenities including escalators, restaurants, shops and other passenger amenities, will be similar (if not better) to those at airport terminals.
“The current facilities are not up to mark, especially since we are trying to target the rich and elite who can afford cruise liner tours. We have already started work on it and the tenders for the Rs 250 crore will be floated soon,” said Mumbai Port Trust chairperson Sanjay Bhatia.
While MbPT had started reaching out to cruise liner companies for more than six months now, the outreach started having the desired effect just recently.
Last Sunday, Italian international cruise liner Costa Cruises, which is currently planning international voyages to destinations like Maldives and Colombo, docked one of their ships, Costa Luminosa, in the city.
The 13-deck cruise ship of the cruise major, carrying around 2,000 tourists, arrived at the MbPT terminal following which artistes from the city made a special performance for the guests.
The cruiseliner has plans to make seven voyages till March next year for which advance booking is already getting an overwhelming response, said tour operators.
“We are very excited about the opportunity which has opened up in Mumbai. Earlier, Indian travellers wanting to go on cruise holidays had to fly to foreign destinations first to board ships. But now, they can board directly from here, and avoid a lot of hassles associated with air travel,” said Nalini Gupta, who heads Costa Cruises in India.
On October 30, MbPT played host to the Genting Dream, an 18-deck luxury cruise liner, which was set to sail with over 2,000 passengers.
Mumbai Mirror had earlier reported on MbPT’s efforts to bring cruise liner traffic to its docks (Mumbaikars to get cruise liners at city shores soon, date June 2).
The MbPT had offered several concession to cruise ships, including cancellation of ousting charges (cost to replace berthed cargo vessel) and a certainty of berth. Earlier, cargo ships were given preference over cruise ships.
Mumbai used to have many cruise liners coming till 2008, but high taxes saw many of these shifting base to Singapore.
MbPT is now trying to regain lost ground with a slew of incentives.
“After several cruise-friendly initiatives were announced, the port has received 59 sailings this year. Next year, we have set a target of 100,” said Bhatia.