The Empress set off from Mumbai on a two-night round-trip trip to nowhere. The 1,607 passenger vessel, operated by the new Indian startup Cordelia Cruises, has started operations.
âWe got off to a good start with the reservations, that’s for sure. Demand has been very good, âsaid Jurgen Bailom, CEO and Chairman of Waterways Leisure Tourism Private Limited, owner of Cordelia Cruises. âThe wedding season is in high demand. The first two departures are fully booked – fully chartered for events and weddings. “
The cruise line sails at full capacity with Indian residents only. Its crew (also Indian residents) are vaccinated, as are the guests. Plus, everyone had to take PCR tests, Bailom said.
âWe have a social distance, the way we check in our guestsâ¦ (it’s) quirky, they come by deck and cabin. So every half hour there is another category that comes on board. We have all the measures in place. But, because of the way a ship works, never – even before COVID – will you have 2,000 people doing the same. Some people are seeing the show, some people are eating, some people are in different living rooms, some people are doing something else. Even when you have 2,000 guests, there are never more than 100 or 200 people in one place. (And these places are) great, âhe explained.
Bailom said that when Waterways created Cordelia, he wanted to cover all aspects important to India, which means âabsolutely excellent food and great entertainment, without having to leave the comfort of the countryâ.
Thus, Waterways created Cordelia Cruises with its first ship – the Empress, formerly known as the Empress of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International.
The cruise line was originally scheduled to start on May 7, 2021, but due to the severe coronavirus outbreak in India, the inaugural season has been postponed.
According to him, 200,000 Indian passengers go on cruises abroad each year, so creating demand will not be a problem for Cordelia.
âWe believe India has enormous potential. Considering that cruises are increasing by up to 15% per year here and India has the third longest coastline in the world at 7,600 kilometers, it made sense that India deserved its own cruise line, âBailom said. .
By August 2022, the cruise line plans to add another ship to its fleet and by 2025 have four to six ships. His first routes are around India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
âObviously we want to take (guests) overseas from India. There are a lot of beautiful areas nearby that we could explore – we could go elsewhere in Asia, we could go to the Middle Eastâ¦ My dream, personally, would be to take Indians all over Europe, âsaid Bailom. âWe want them to come back because cruises are built on loyal customers. And to have repeat customers, you can’t keep bringing them back to the same (places), you have to have different opportunities.