Despite the economic slowdown hitting the cruising industry, the number of cruise passengers in Kochi remains substantial. Indicating that the industry is active, Aida Cruises, a German cruise company, conducted its first turnaround operation of the season of its vessel AIDA Aura.
There is a considerable fall in the number of cruise vessels sailing to Kochi and industry sources blame it on the European recession. “However, what we could understand is that Kochi still remains the most sought after destination. Approximately, 900 passengers, mostly Germans, will experience the first turnaround of this season of cruise vessel AIDA Aura,” said officials of Lotus Destination, a tour company which handles passengers for AIDA Cruises.
The passengers were brought to Kochi in two chartered aircraft of Air Berlin and a few scheduled services of the Qatar airways and Emirates.
“Around 900 passengers were transported from the seaport to the airport. Most of the passengers who embarked in Kochi are proceeding to Singapore and Malaysia,” they said. The Zgerman cruising company has been using the Cochin Port as its turnaround port since 2009.
At shore, the passengers of AIDA Aura, visited Kumbalangi, a village in Vaikom, Alappuzha backwaters apart from going on a city tour. Built in 2003, AIDA Aura has 12 passenger decks where 1,300 passengers can be accommodated. The vessel reached Kochi on November 24 after calling at Mumbai and Goa ports. She will leave for Colombo on Wednesday. “We learnt that AIDA Cruises plan to induct a bigger 23 deck vessel, AIDA Sole, from next year. AIDA Aura will have the next turnaround operation in Kochi in March 2014,” Lotus destination authorities said.
Though it remains as a hot destination on the cruising map, Kochi is likely to lose its supremacy among Indian ports for having maximum number of calls by cruise vessels as cruising companies in Europe, which usually include Kochi in their itineraries, are curtailing schedules in the wake of economic meltdown.