Jalesh Cruises will become the second domestic cruise line targeting the Indian cruise market when it launches operations in April next year.
The company announced its planned itineraries this week, just two months after local competitor Angriya Cruises launched operations, with roundtrip Mumbai to Goa itineraries.
While Angriya Cruises has focused on making its cruise experience more accessible to working-class Indian consumers, Jalesh Cruises will be a more upmarket brand.
Owned by Zen Cruises, which is itself a subsidiary of Indian powerhouse Essel Group, the company has invested up to US $100-million in buying and refurbishing a cruise ship for the Indian market, and plans to buy more in the coming years.
“We have purchased a vessel, which is a very good hardware and in very good condition,” said Jurgen Bailom, President, Zen Cruises. “but when you enter in to a venture like this, a one-ship operation won’t be successful.”
According to Economic Times India, Zen Cruises will expand with more ships and will also launch a sister cruise brand aimed at the budget market.
The first ship, which is currently being refitted and refurbished, is the 70,285-gross ton Pacific Jewel. With a passenger capacity of 2,000 the ship, which was previously owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by P&O Cruises Australia, will be the largest to cruise roundtrip from Mumbai.
Pacific Jewel will be renamed Karnika when she is re-launched in April, 2019.
The Pacific Jewel entered service in 1990 as the Crown Princess after being built by Fincantieri. It also served as the A’Rosa Blu, AIDAblu and Ocean Village Two before moving to P&O Australia as the Pacific Jewel in 2009, serving the contemporary Australian market.
“As an industry leader, we feel the proliferation of cruise tourism will bring one million jobs in the next 3-4 years. We will provide a home-grown alternative for Indians, who are presently going abroad to enjoy cruises,” said Subhash Chandra, chairman of Essel Group.
The Essel Group is a major powerhouse in India, with holdings from news and media to technology, packaging, entertainment, precious metals and more.