You got Indians cruising when liners were the stuff of travel glossies here.
It happened by accident in 1993. Over lunch, I was asked by the head of expansion, Royal Caribbean International, if I’d represent India.
Was there a market then?
He said if you have the patience, we can build a market for you.
Would the average Indian consider a cruise?
It’s the affording mature traveller who goes on our cruises. We’ve no ships coming to India, and yet have had 20,000 Indian passengers annually in the last two years. Indians have flown to Europe and the US to board our ships.
It is luxury travel, then.
One man’s luxury is another man’s ordinary. You can pay $1,000 a night per person for a suite or $70-80 for a non-ocean view cabin, and enjoy a free run of the ship.
But cruises aren’t a must-do here.
India is emerging, and people want to fill scrapbooks with run-of-the-mill experiences before maturing into a more relaxed holiday groove. But the market’s growing dramatically.
No plans for an India-specific cruise?
Our ports would be hard-pressed.
What are the options available in India?
We have a 7,100-km coastline but little or no options that meet global standards. Today, ships go from the Mediterranean into the Caribbean or the Far East, sailing past India. Each ship means over 2,000 tourists at one go.
About time that potential was tapped.
The best way is to actually put a ship out there. But we need the infrastructure.
You set up a travel portal too.
Travel portals are the ultimate empowerment for consumers because they can do their own fact-finding, without needing to seek opinions or endorsements.
One cruise of a lifetime?
The cruise to Alaska. No must-see list is complete till you’ve seen the Hubbard glacier.