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OT: It has been a long voyage with TIRUN. Tell us your tale.
Ratna Chadha: After 12 years with ITC Hotels and a year-long break to join my family in London, I joined Discover the World, a US-based travel company, where my husband was also working. In 1993, we were offered the opportunity to represent Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited (RCCL). Cruising was an alien concept in India then, and creating the market from scratch was challenging. We broke away from the parent company in 2000 to establish TIRUN Travel Marketing, dedicated to cruises. We worked towards raising end-user awareness of the brands represented by RCCL. I became CEO in 2012, when my husband passed away. We’ve come a long way, but there are more milestones to achieve. My vision is to put India on the global cruise map. I am contributing towards it in my own little way as part of the taskforce set up by the Ministry of Tourism and Shipping.
OT: What sets you guys apart?
Ratna Chadha: TIRUN is unique because it focusses exclusively on cruise marketing for RCCL and its brands. We are also hugely invested in the Indian market. We work with travel partners across destinations. Our sustained efforts at popularising cruise tourism among Indian travellers have been recognised by the government and also thousands of cruise enthusiasts in the country.
OT: What’s the latest in the cruising world?
Ratna Chadha: There has been a growing shift towards longer cruises and cruises to relatively unknown destinations. Travellers are now ready to explore new hotspots and be part of world events with their loved ones. Indian travellers are also looking to explore home ports through curated and experiential tours.
OT: Will India ever become a cruising hub?
Ratna Chadha: Cruising as an industry will come into its own when cruise companies begin to ply their trade along India’s vast coastline and cater to domestic travellers. This is a huge untapped market. Cruise service providers and the government need to work in tandem. The Indian government has announced plans to develop terminals across major Indian ports, and allow foreign players to oversee the maintenance and infrastructure. This gradual shift in focus is encouraging.
OT: The dos and don’ts on a cruise holiday...
Ratna Chadha: When on a cruise, follow your interests and enjoy the experience at your own pace. Don’t treat meals like a wedding buffet, follow dress codes, don’t jump into pools without the appropriate swimwear.
OT: That one cruise experience you will always remember...
Ratna Chadha: To the Arctic Circle—the region is untouched by the modern world. It was also the last cruise that I went on with my late husband, which makes the memories even more special.
OT: Anything special the Indian traveller can look forward to this holiday season?
Ratna Chadha: We have customised cruises for Indians, with comprehensive Indian menus. This season we have six- and eight-night cruises from Kochi and Mumbai on the Celebrity Constellation, a luxury cruise that sails through ports in the UAE and India. The added incentive is onboard Christmas and New Year celebrations, with a fireworks show in Dubai on New Year’s Eve.
OT: Bust some cruising myths for our readers.
Ratna Chadha: People worry about being on open seas with no land in sight. The Titanic mishap, even though it happened way back in 1912, still gives people nightmares. But modern technology allows ships these days to handle those sort of eventualities and ensure passenger safety. In fact, cruise ships are safer than aircrafts. Another fear is seasickness. But again, new-age tech and the massive size of ships mitigates it to a large extent.
OT: The road ahead for TIRUN...
Ratna Chadha: We are RCCL’s exclusive representative in India. We are also aiming for the incorporation of Indian ports and destinations to our cruise offerings to entice more and more destination cruisers to the country. Hopefully, TIRUN will operate an RCI cruise ship one day on Indian waters, exclusively for the domestic market.
Contact: 505, Salcon Aurum, 4 Jasola District Centre, New Delhi; +91-11-490611000, firstname.lastname@example.org
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