Even as the outbound tourism sector is feeling slowdown jitters, cruise tourism is becoming popular with Indians. Bookings for April went by 20 per cent.

“There has been an increase of 15-20 per cent in the number of bookings that we have made this year.The packages being offered are quite attractive, which has made cruise tourism affordable for a lot more people”, said Thomas C Thottathil, spokesperson for Cox&Kings India Ltd.

Travel companies like Thomas Cook, Cox & Kings, Kuoni and Stic Travel Group have cut the price of cruise packages by 15-30 per cent.

The size of the Indian outbound cruise tourism industry is estimated to be about Rs 240 crore. Around 80,000 people go for cruise tourism every year. First-timers opt for short cruises to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, as a package to these countries starts from as low as Rs 14,700 per person for two nights. April-June is the peak season for outbound cruise tourism in India.

“In April, we received a good response, with 16-20 per cent increase in bookings”, said Kashmira Commissariat, head, Outbound Division, Kuoni India.

Cruise tourism is still a niche segment in India and accounts for only two per cent of all outbound tourism. However, this year, travel companies are offering competitive packages to attract customers.

“Despite the slowdown, outbound cruise tourism is picking up in India. Cruise companies are also taking care of Indian customers by having Indian crew on board”, said Subhash Goyal, chairman, Stic Travel Group. “More Indians are now going for international cruises but most of them prefer short cruises, rather than the long voyages that Americans and Europeans seek,” he added.