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Sometimes, the journey matters more than the destination. This is
precisely what differentiates a cruise tour from a regular holiday trip.
Cruises are more about the time you spend on your voyage than the
time you spend on the land. Simply put, a cruise is a ship or a boat that
is designed to undergo a pleasure or leisure voyage. Quite often, these
cruises are equipped with several amenities and having multiple

With a vast coastline covering thousands of kilometres, amazing scenic

destinations along the east and west coasts, and a billion people, one
would naturally think that cruises are a common thing in India. However,
on the contrary, cruise tourism in India is quite weak. Well, not for long.

Cruise Tourism
What do you think is better than an exquisite resort? Well, clearly, a
‘floating’ resort should be it. Cruises are the pinnacle of luxury tourism.
With over 30 million people engaging in cruise trips in the world,
the cruise industry is possibly the largest form of the tourism industry.
The cruise industry accounts for a significant portion of the contribution
to the national economy.

Started in the early 19th century when ships were the major means of
travel, cruise tourism has been around for quite some time. However,
since the start of commercial flights, travel by ships and boats had taken
a hit. People started using ships mainly for the transportation of goods.
The faster air travel attracted people and negated the need for ships for
transport. However, despite this, several shipping lines developed
the cruise industry again, and it sprung off its feet. One major reason for
this is that apart from enjoying the destinations, cruise trips let you enjoy
the journey as well. Towards the end of the 20th century, cruise
holidays had become a major form of tourism.

Cruises took off from a port and had single or multiple ports of calls. A
port of calls is nothing but a stop in between a scheduled journey. Cruise
lines provide a cruise itinerary which is usually a loop from the port of
embarkation. In certain cases, people travel to a port to enter a cruise.
And then after their return to the port after the journey, flew back home.
This type, also known as a ‘fly&cruise’ is quite common amongst
tourists. A cruise tour is a unique type of experience. One gets to enjoy
priceless regional and valuable experiences. Based on the number of
people, cruises can be made to occupy less than a hundred people, and
sometimes even more than 6000 people. Apart from their actual
destination, cruise ships are a destination on its own. Like resorts,
cruises contain several entertainments facilities. Some of the facilities on
a cruise include a casino, spa, shops, swimming pools, cinema, fitness
centres, lounges, clubs, restaurants, and even an infirmary. Cruise lines
offer a wide range of packages for the passengers to choose from.
Intensive market research, industry environment, as well as other
planning, goes into making good cruise tourism packages.

Growth of Cruise Tourism in India

Despite the tourism industry in India being a major form of revenue, it is
quite surprising to see the lack of cruise tourism in India despite several
technological and tourism-related advancements. Even though the rest
of the world, as well as other east countries, have a full-fledged cruise
industry, India is still developing on that front. As of 2017, only a mere
180,000 tourists were involved in cruise tourism. Most tourists rather visit
foreign countries such as Singapore, Thailand, the UK, etc and take part
in cruising from over there.

The major reason for this is the strict tax and other regulations. This
environment makes it unfavourable for cruise lines. There have been
several plans in the past where cruise lines targeted India as a top
cruise destination. However, due to these aspects, they were shot down.
Another reason is the lack of cruise ports in India. The ports in India are
made for goods, and not tourism, As a result, they are not suitable
enough and lack several key factors required for a cruise trip.

However, in recent years, there have been several changes to this.

There have been a lot of cruises that have started their services in India.
Although it is not even close to what other major countries possess, it is
still a start. As of now, there are cruises between India and the Maldives,
between Mumbai and Goa, as well as a few other domestic routes. Apart
from this, river tourism in India has been around for quite a while. With
cruises and boats in the river Ganges, as well as the houseboats in the
backwaters of Alleppey in Kerala, this type of tourism still does attract a
large number of tourists from around the world.

The Future Trends in Cruise Industry

The cruise industry in India is a ‘golden goose’. With a large potential of
cruise tourism in India, this domain will soon be explored to its limits.
India has no dearth of tourist attractions. The beautiful coastline,
emerald forests, stunning hill stations, as well as several other amazing
places, the country has absolutely no problem attracting tourists. Now
imagine what would happen to the economy if we just tap into the full
potential of the cruise types of tourism in India. With the development in
this sector, there is also going to be a substantial requirement for the
workforce. Thereby, increasing the jobs in the travel and tourism

The Indian government has already started addressing this. They have
taken major steps to promote the cruise industry. The government has
eased the regulations and laws on immigration rules for tourists
travelling via cruises. They have even started issuing e-visa for casual,
recreational, or business visits. The passengers can apply for these just
a few days before their journey. The govt also has implemented a task
force to develop the port regulations, customs formalities, as well as
other immigration rules.
Types of Cruise Tourism
The major types of cruise tourism can be divided as follows. These are
based on the purpose, as well as features of the cruise.

 Ocean Voyages - These are normally a one-way trip. Passing

over a large body of water, these trips are usually long. An
example would be the Titanic.
 Standard Cruises - This common type includes travel over open
water from one point to another or a round trip. These can have
single or multiple ports of calls as per the itinerary.
 River/Canal Cruises - These are the ships or boats that are
usually in closed waters within a region. Quite often, they are
focused on a cultural and heritage experience of the region.
 Destination/Expedition Cruises - These cruises are usually
drafted to visit particular destinations that are usually inaccessible
by a normal cruise. Examples would be expeditions to the poles,
various islands, etc.
 Day Cruises - These usually last around 15 hours and is a short
journey. Normally, this type of cruising is done within a country or a
 Contemporary Cruises - These are big modern ships that are
usually visited for its onboard activities.
 Luxury Cruises - High-class luxury ships that are visited for its
state of the art onboard amenities as well as destinations.
 Speciality Cruises - These are normally used to visit various
destinations as well as the journey that have a certain special
importance. These could be educational, cultural, musical, etc.