Your travel agent has information to share: slowdown or not, Indians are still keen on cruises this summer. And an enviable number is well on its way to the Bahamas, the Middle East, as well as to Alaska — where, going by travel brochures, “the glaciers glow blue in the midnight sun with images of soaring eagles and breaching whales”.
In fact, according to Thomas Cook, there have definitely been more bookings for Alaska this year, as opposed to Europe that had more takers in the Summer of 2008.
Kruti Sharma, of corporate communications Thomas Cook says, “The market for cruises has increased three fold.” Tossing at you the statistic of the day, she says, “The growth of the global cruise industry has been phenomenal, with 16 million passengers cruising in 2007 compare to 4.4 million passengers cruising in 1990.”
Nikhil Khanna, 34, is looking forward to a family holiday in two months, “for mom’s 60th birthday in the second week of July.”
Elaborating on the holiday schedule, Nikhil says the family has narrowed down on a cruise, and the Carribean- Bahamas, St Lucia, and St Thomas it is. After which the Khannas “sail from Miami, circle around for seven days and finally return to the States”.
Keeping in mind the money to geography ratio, sailing to the Middle East and nearby south Asia is naturally cheaper than to Miami or places further up on the map.
Star Cruises, for instance, offers you packages starting from Rs 14,700 per person. The call you have to take is whether you want to go for two, three or five nights. And in that amount, you would have been for a spin to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.
Although if those Northern Lights are more your thing, Thomas Cook has cruise lines offering 7-night cruises starting at roughly about Rs 34,000 per person.
And nor do you have to be rolling in money to plan such a trip. Ashutosh Mehere, vice president, Free Individual Traveller (FIT), Cox and Kings, brings out the affordability aspect, “With the growing popularity of cruise holidays, we have decided to provide the Indian customer a cruise holiday that is affordable.”
And for people planning a family holiday with the baccha party in tow, many cruise lines have special offers for the young ones. In fact, often, children even have their own play area with an entertainer assigned especially for them.
In the last two to three years, companies have started taking their dealers on incentives onboard such cruise ships, and Meher says, “We expect this to grow by 15-20 per cent this year( 2009).”
Bir Grewal, a retired inflight supervisor for Air India and wife Sultana are cruise junkies, having recently returned from a fabulous holiday in the Eastern Caribbean. He says, all it takes is a little planning, “and for people to start believing cruises are not that expensive!”