Alan Lam reporting
At a press conference in Mumbai, Costa Cruises announced that it would entering the Indian market from December 2016, when its Costa neoClassica begins homeport cruise operations from the city.
The ship will perform a series of weekly sailings from 16 December 2016 to 18 March 2017. Its itineraries will include destinations such as Goa, Cochin, Maldives, and Colombo.
"We are delighted to bring cruising to the Indians at their doorstep,” said Buhdy Bok, President of Costa Group. “For many travellers, the holiday often starts after some sort of a long journey. Now, like never before, Indians will have the opportunity to start holidaying – right from their door-step - from India's largest metropolis, Mumbai."
“It is a proud moment for us to have Costa neoClassica to be homeported at India’s premier Mumbai Port,” said Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port. “The Mumbai Port has long been the principal gateway to India, playing a crucial role in sea trade and the development of the national economy, trade & commerce, and the prosperity of Mumbai city in particular."
On board the ship, to cater for the special regional need, Costa Cruises will also offer a variety of Indian cuisines, which include Jain, vegan, and vegeatarian dishes.
This pioneering move has demonstrated Costa’s confidence in the Indian market, which may be finally taking off. It also proves that, a decade after entering the Chinese market, Costa continues to be the pioneer in Asia.
Originally built in 1991, after a recent refurbishment and conversion the 52,926-gross ton Costa neoClassica has the capacity of 1,300 lower berths, carrying up to 1,766 passengers. It has a total of 654 cabins. The vessel will be the biggest cruise ship to sail between Mumbai and the Maldives.