It’s been over a century since the Titanic, the largest passenger ship of its time sank. It was a century after the first passenger cruise ship was built, that Asia saw its first ever cruise company. It is only recently that ports across the Indian coast are making way for cruises to make them their port of call.
There were about 120,000 Indians travelling on cruise liners in 2015, which when compared with the total number of Indians travelling abroad seemed miniscule. Cruise tourism however, continues to be an upward trend and has seen a boost both in terms of volumes and revenue in the past year. A lot of this has got to do with how cruises have been marketed to the changing and evolving Indian audience.
Going back to the 1990s, there were large numbers of Indians who applied for jobs on cruise liners. Most men opted for jobs at sea for the monetary benefits that came with it. The popular Indian film industry Bollywood, a strong influencer of Indian audiences also portrayed cruises in a similar light. Humraaz, Kaho na pyaar hai are two out of the many movies whose plot revolved around Indian dance groups aspiring to work as performers on cruise ships. Today the portrayal, the audience and cruise marketing itself has gone through a sea change.
The Indian traveller has evolved over time and is more adventurous and open to experimentation. They are become seekers of unique experiences be it solo travel, exploring off beat destinations or luxury experiences. Cruise liners have identified this along with the interests of Indians and are going all out to woo them. Varied itineraries, lavish cuisines, fancier ships, creating entertainment which Indians would enjoy, all-inclusive packages for the value for money hungry Indian traveller; the cruise industry has a created a fantastic blend of offerings.
Another reason why Indians are increasingly waltzing towards holidays on cruise liners is because they don’t necessarily have to follow a dress code or schedule. They are free to explore the activities on board in their own time. Bollywood once again played a role in enticing Indians to take the plunge and dive into the cruise holiday spirit with its recent movie, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ which was shot almost completely on a cruise ship. Unlike the portrayal in the 1990s, this time it showcased affluent Indian families enjoying onboard and appealing to all age groups.
With a more aware audience and introduction of multiple cruise ships close to India, the myth of cruising being a holiday only for the affluent is slowly breaking and the industry is expected to continue its double digit growth in the coming years.
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