New Delhi, September 04, 2018: The diversified Essel Group has forayed into the cruise line business through its entity Zen Cruises Pvt. Ltd., which will operate in the sector with the Jalesh (Lord of the waters) brand.

The company has purchased a used vessel from P&O Australia, which will start sailing in Indian waters from May next year, a top official said.

“We are in the entertainment industry and we just added one more novelty to entertain our guests and make them happy. From November, our products [tour packages] will be available for booking, but the first voyage is scheduled for May 2019,” Jurgen Bailom, president & CEO, Zen Cruises, said in an interview according to

The company is making an initial investment of more than $100 million, including $23 million on refurbishing the vessel. The yet-to-be-renamed vessel can accommodate 1,800 guests and 600 crew members.

Global destinations

“Out target is to take on board 2,50,000 guests in 2019,” he said. Initially, it will call on six Indian ports which have cruise terminals. Going forward, the company’s cruise ships will sail to international destinations.

The objective of the cruise line would be to provide premium services at affordable rates. This would cost below ₹10,000 per person per day, company officials said. The company will have a finance strategy for its guests to make the trips affordable. “We have very aggressive investment plans in this business. We will be adding another vessel soon.

Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Essel Group said, “The Indian cruise industry should handle five million passengers by 2020. At Essel Group, we have begun cruise business with the commitment to give people a great experience.”

“As an industry leader we feel the proliferation of cruise tourism will bring one million jobs in the next three to four years. We will provide a homegrown alternative for Indians, who are presently going abroad to enjoy cruises,” Mr. Chandra said while speaking at a Global Cruise Conclave in Mumbai on Thursday.

At the event, the newly formed India Cruise Lines Association (INCLA) presented a White Paper and several recommendations to Union Shipping Nitin Gadkari, who said he would look into the demands.

Mr. Gadkari said, “Cruise tourism has a big scope in India and can become an economically viable and profitable sector. With a potential of one crore cruise tourists, we sense an opportunity for 25 lakh jobs that will greatly benefit the economy.”