The Indian cruise line Jalesh Cruises has announced that it is permanently suspending operations due to mounting debts and a delay in reopening Indian cruise ports.
Jalesh Cruises is the third cruise line to declare insolvency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, following Pullmantur and Cruise & Maritime Voyages earlier in the year.
The cruise line had previously indicated that it would be resuming operations following a directive from the government, but permission to resume operations was later rescinded.
“The owners of MV Karnika state that it is not in a position to start operations as the ports in India have not given the date by which cruise ships can start operations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” astatement from the company said.
Karnika, formerly P&O Australia’s Pacific Jewel, was acquired by Jalesh Cruises in 2018 and refurbished for operation as India’s first premium domestic cruise line.
The company sailed voyages from Mumbai to Indian cruise ports and also spent a summer season in the Arabian Gulf.
The statement from the cruise line added that the Indian government’s failure to provide adequate support to the wider travel industry was having a devastating impact on the sector and threatening millions of jobs.
“This sector has been devastated by COVID-19. It’s predicted that 120 million jobs are at risk, with economic damage likely to exceed $1 trillion according to a report released by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres,” the statement said.
Jalesh Cruises said it is facing mounting debts in the absence of any means by which to earn revenue through ticket sales, and is now in a position to pay its crew, or even provide them with food and water supplies.
It has appealed to various goverment authorities in India for assistance to provide fuel, power and basic supplies to the 60 crew members that are on the ship.
“However, they have yet to receive an update on their appeal from the High Court along with the port trust,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately, due to this delay, the crew on the ship are living in poor conditions with no fuel, power etc. We are hoping to get the crew members signed off and relieve them so that they can go home, as soon as the legal formalities are completed,” the statement added.
Jalesh Cruises is the brand name of the company Zen Cruises, which is owned by Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group, one of the largest business conglomerates in India, which is itself reportedly mired in debt and looking to sell several of its subsidiaries to raise cash.
Jalesh Cruises started with an ambitious and optimistic outlook for the cruise sector in India, and had planned to add a second cruise ship to the fleet by October this year, prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.