Jalesh Cruises, India’s first premium cruise ship, recently sailed on its maiden voyage from its homeport Mumbai. The cruise liner unveiled its first vessel, ‘Karnika’, which was acquired from the P&O cruises from Australia and has a capacity of 2000 guests.
Speaking about Karnika, Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Zen Cruises said, “We are the first premium cruise ship in India. The ship arrived in March in Singapore and went into revitalisation. We had a very good response from the market when the first look was out. As a company, we want to make sure that guests know that this is a cruise ship for Indians to explore the 7600 km of coastline. One of the major USPs is that we cater the finest Indian cuisine in the cruise.
We will strive to provide the best experience. There are 700 crew members on board, and the ship can hold almost 2000 guests. We have nine different food outlets and 13 bars. We have massive Broadway shows, entertainment and several bands. We also have a water park and also a lot of activities for the kids. We have spacious rooms across various categories. One of our aims is to become famous for the big fat Indian weddings.”
The ship is set to be homeported in Mumbai for around eight and half months, and during the monsoon, Dubai will be its homeport for three months. The group aims to attract 250,000 travellers in the next 12 months.
“Mumbai will be our homeport, and we will turn the ship around 100 times in the next 12 months. In the monsoon the ship will move to the Middle East, calling Dubai its homeport. We are predominantly doing two and three-night cruises, and we are looking at 250,000 guests in the next 12 months,” Bailom added.
Further speaking about the current size of the Indian cruising industry and the growth, he added, “Today the Indian cruising industry size is 1.6 to 1.7 lakhs, we need to go to 2.5 lakhs. We want to have 250,000 guests ourselves. Our bookings are happening very well. We want Indians to go international in the comfort of their home. We will grow quickly here, being in Mumbai. We will double the cruise market in the next one year. We will look at 500,000 to 700,000 in the next three years. We have the potential to be close to China very soon. We have a government which is positive in developing the waterways in India.
This is just a part of how India has grown in the last ten years. We created a cruise line association called INCLA, and we work closely with the Government and creating SOP manuals. We want to work closely with all ministries and will want all the other cruise lines to come to India. If this happens, we can grow a whole good business.”
One of the primary goals of the group is sustainability and community building. The group is looking to create close to two million employment opportunities in the coming years. “One of our goals is to give back to the local community.
We are trying to hire as many as Indian nationals as we can. Our promoters’ idea is to create around 2 million jobs in the next five to 10 years. One of our major programmes is the Clean Wave programme, and in the next 12-18 months, we will be plastic free. We want to be a part of cleaning up the beaches and environment in India, which is one of our goals,” Bailom added.
The group is also looking to acquire its second and third vessel soon. The Mauritian entity owned group with Subash Chandra as a significant investor is now further looking to attract more investments.
“Our goal now is to get a couple more ships and develop the cruising market. We plan to get the second ship and third ship soon. We are working aggressively on this. Jalesh Cruises is owned by a Mauritius entity; there are a lot of promoters and investors involved and one of the major promoters being Subhash Chandra family.
Deltin Group is also one of the main investors. We want to make it a 100 per cent Indian entity in the next few months with more investors coming in. The total project is of over 90 million dollars. Cruising is an expensive business and takes a long time to break even. Our average ticket price is US$ 130,” he added.