Another cruise comes India’s way and one has to keep the fingers crossed. Europe’s number 1 cruising company, Costa Cruises, has announced the highly-anticipated launch of Costa neoClassica in India at a press conference in the Mumbai on Monday. Costa neoClassica will begin homeport cruises from Mumbai from December 2016. The ship will perform a series of weekly sailings from 16th Dec 2016 – 18th March 2017. Among the destinations will be few desi hotspots like Goa and Cochin and popular ones like Maldives and Colombo.
India seems to have a love-hate relationship with cruise operators. Its not the first time that a top cruise line is entering the Indian market. This is not even first for the Mumbai. Star Cruise had few sailings to Lakshadweep islands and Goa from Mumbai way back in 2007. Then in 2009 Louis Cruise made Cochin as their homeport and started cruising to Maldives. But none of them lasted longer. No clear cut cruise policy by Indian government and lack of infrastructure for cruise terminals was a major reason for that. Hope that Coasta Cruise will be able to overcome these hurdles. Will this be third time lucky for a major cruise operator to make India as homeport? Fingers crossed. Well, Cruise Tourism has been termed as one of the most potential and sustainable segments and now with the launch of cruising between Mumbai and the Maldives, Costa Cruises has confirmed its strong interest in India.
Costa neoClassica will be the very first large cruise ship that cruises between Mumbai and the Maldives. This classic cruise ship has a total of 654 cabins (with a capacity for 1700 passengers), including sea view cabins and suites with private balconies. Fully-equipped with a Casino, Theatre, Disco, Ballroom, Grand Bar, it aims to provide plenty in entertainment. The wellness centre is spread across 1,300 sq. m with a gym, treatment rooms, sauna and steam room. It also has an outdoor jogging track, 4 Jacuzzis and 2 swimming pools. For those who would like to go shopping, the cruise ship has a huge duty free shopping centre, and also offers a wide selection of books in the library for those who love to unwind with a book.
Speaking about the launch, Mr. Buhdy Bok, President of Costa Group Asia said, “we are delighted to bring cruising to Indians at their doorstep. For many travellers, the holiday often starts after some sort of a long journey. Now like never before, Indians will have the opportunity to start holidaying — right from their door-step – from India’s largest metropolis, Mumbai”.
Commenting on the home porting of Costa neoClassica in Mumbai Port, Mr. Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port said, “it is a proud moment for us to have Costa neoClassica to be homeported at India’s premier Mumbai Port. The Mumbai Port has long been the principal gateway to India, playing a crucial role in sea trade and the development of the national economy, trade & commerce and the prosperity of Mumbai city in particular.”
Enhancing the cruising experience further is the gastronomy: the food & wine offer is based on Italian regional menus with a choice of dishes representing different regions of Italy and proudly reflecting the country’s rich and unrivalled culinary heritage. In addition to this vast range, guests can also take advantage of tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes. On board Costa neoClassica, guests will also have the chance to taste the real original Neapolitan pizza at Pizzeria “Pummid’oro”: thanks to an agreement with the Università delle Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo, Costa Cruises offers pizza prepared using only sourdough and selected ingredients such as San Marzano DOP tomato. In addition, cruisers will be able to enjoy a variety of Indian cuisine and the restaurants on board are fully equipped to cater to special diet requirements of Indians, which includes Jain food.
Ms. Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations (GSA of Costa Cruises India) feels the modern Indian traveller is now seeking a different kind of thrill and cruise holidays are now featuring on the Indian traveler’s ‘must-experience’ list. She further adds, “the fact that Indians can now embark directly from Mumbai, not only makes the process hassle-free and visa-free, but also saves the traveler costs and time.”
Costa Cruises is an Italian Cruising Company part of the Carnival Corporation & plc, the largest cruise company in the world. For 68 years, the ships of Costa fleet have plied the seas of the world. Currently the Costa fleet, the largest in Europe, has a total of 15 ships in service, all flying the Italian flag. Moreover two next-generation cruise ships will be delivered in 2019 and 2021: they will feature a revolutionary “green design” and will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, representing a major environmental breakthrough.
Other 2 new ships will be delivered in 2019 and 2020 to be deployed in Asia. Costa embodies the Italian excellence surprising its Guests everyday with unique holidays, experiences and unforgettable memories thanks to 19,000 Costa’s associates worldwide who are passionately working everyday to offer “Italy’s finest” cruise vacations through 137 different itineraries, 261 destinations and 60 embarkation ports.