Bon voyage! Luxury cruises to berth along state coast

Those dreaming to unwind on luxury cruises now won’t have to go too far from Gujarat.

The state’s sprawling coastline is all set to welcome international cruises at some of its most sought-after tourist spots like temple towns of Dwarka and Somnath as well as Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Union ministry of shipping had identified Gujarat as prime cruise destination along with Maharashtra, Kerala and Lakshwadeep.

Minister of state (independent charge) Mansukh Mandaviya confirmed that Mumbaibased cruise operator Angriya Cruises will start operations between India’s financial capital and Diu next month.

“Angriya Cruises had approached me in a workshop to promote cruise tourism held in Mumbai last week and expressed intention to start a service between Mumbai and Diu from December,” the minister told.

Angriya executives were not available for comments.

While Hazira-Bandra ferry service is expected to start in a few days, the shipping ministry is also pursuing some private operators to start cruise between Dahej and Mumbai.

In Gujarat, a cruise tourist circuit linking Porbandar, Dwarka, Veraval, Diu and Daman is being planned. The tourist inflow in Dwarka, Somnath, Porbandar and Mandvi has been exponentially growing since 2012-13 and nearly 3.4 million people visited these four places till 2015-16, data of IndextB revealed.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), the regulator of all ports in the state, has already issued tenders for construction of cruise terminals at five ports — Mundra, Mandvi, Okha, Veraval and Jamnagar.

Tourists to get visas on arrival

We expect to complete the work in six months after the allotment of tender,” said Mukesh Kumar, vice-chairman and CEO, GMB.

Importantly, in a bid to attract foreign tourists, the ministry will facilitate e-visas and on-arrival visa at these identified locations along with single e-landing card that will be valid at all ports in the cruise itinerary.

Customs and immigration officials will also have a temporary stay at cruise terminals to facilitate international tourists.