Despite suffering some of the worst flooding in a century across the state of Kerala in India, the port city of Cochin, a major cruise hub in Southeast Asia, has not been dropped from the itineraries of any cruise lines for the coming cruise season.
Like Dubai, Cochin’s cruise season runs from November to April annually. During the remainder of 2018, 30 cruise itineraries feature the city as a port of call, while 151 are scheduled to visit the city next year.
“Costa Cruises has not made any changes to the scheduled sailings post the floods in Kerala,” said Nalini Gupta, managing director of Lotus Destinations (GSA of Costa Cruises in India). Indeed none of the other cruise lines visiting the city have either.
During the coming cruise season, 50 cruise ships will call in Cochin. And while Mumbai remains the primary Indian city for roundtrip cruises and embarkation, Cochin this year has become the most visited by cruise ships.
Mumbai will receive 44 cruise ships during the same period, according to local tourism officials.
According to Gupta, Cochin has become more popular as a port of call because of its proximity to international shipping routes between east and west.
“Cochin is more en-route than Mumbai when a ship is moving from East to West (Australia-Singapore-Colombo-Europe) and vice-versa,” she says.
However, for cruises starting in Dubai and sailing east to Singapore, or from Singapore bound for Dubai, Cochin as well as Mumbai become popular ports of call, she added.
Cochin also has a larger cruise ship berth and a deeper draft to accommodate larger cruise ships.
Costa Cruises, which sails roundtrip from Mumbai with Costa neoRiviera (and in the 2019/2020 season Costa Victoria) frequently visits Cochin, as do Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Constellation cruising roundtrip from Abu Dhabi to India, an itinerary that will soon be mirrored by MSC Cruises.
According to a senior Mumbai Port official, despite the drop in scheduled cruise ship calls for the coming year, demand may pick up in the coming months.
“Fixing itineraries and berths on a specific date is done almost a year in advance. The numbers that we have today is on the basis of bookings made last year. At the moment, cruise operators are approaching us for availability for next year,” he said.
Cochin and the surrounding state of Kerala has been hard hit by flooding this year. For two weeks the airport in the city was closed due to rising flood waters. Across the state, more than 400 people have been killed. Bridges collapsed, forests fell, and homes were swept away in landslides.
The city of Cochin, however, was not as severely impacted and repairs are expected to be well underway by the time the first cruise ships of the new season begin arriving in mid-October.