Sailing on the rising tide

Karnika to give Indians a chance to enjoy cruising in a truly Indian way.

Possessing the best of futuristic facilities and cutting-edge designs, Jalesh Cruises, India’s first premium cruise liner catering to the Indian domestic and international cruise sector, recently christened ‘Karnika’ in Mumbai and proved that voyaging on seas has never been more exciting. Right from offering specially-curated Broadway shows, adventure activities, casino and wide range of cuisines, Jalesh Cruises has set unhurried and relaxing as the hallmarks of cruising. Jurgen Bailom, President & CEO, Zen Cruises enthusiastically shares how the cruise liner is gearing up to offer new experiences customised for Indian audience and unveils the plans on how the vessel focuses on soaring across the waves in near future, becoming the harbinger by putting ‘Incredible India’ on the global map of cruising.

Being India’s first multi-destination premier cruise line, what is that one distinguishing feature about the maiden vessel Karnika? What kind of clientele is targeted for this cruise?

A clear differentiator for Karnika is that it is a truly Indian product that promises to offer a home away from home even as guests experience international hospitality. The stay, food, entertainment and shows have been designed and provided keeping in mind the preferences of Indians, who among Asians, make for the second largest cruise passengers. Overseas Indian passengers enjoy cruises but in a foreign style. Jalesh Cruises, with its maiden ship Karnika, will give Indians a chance to enjoy cruising in a truly Indian way. Jalesh Cruises will be known for offering the best of entertainment shows, adventure activities and exotic authentic cuisines packed with international hospitality on the high sea. It will be the harbinger of putting ‘Incredible India’ on the global map when it comes to cruising.

In terms of clientele, close to 45 per cent will come from family and leisure travel, while 40 per cent from MICE and the remaining from special interest groups, including honeymooners and couples planning destination weddings.

Excursions are a pivotal element of the cruise experience. How does your brand work with the local operators? Is there a planned commission structure for the agents?

We are working with local agencies to ensure that our guests have a wonderful onshore experience as well. We have worked out the key places to visit in collaboration with the local operators so that the onshore excursion is hassle-free. We have kept a marginal profit scheme so the tours are not expensive for the guests.

What are the planned marketing strategies for enhancing the promotion of Jalesh Cruises across India and other potential markets?

Jalesh Cruises has a clear focus of reaching out to first-time cruisers. The average age of Indian cruisers is 37 years, which is the youngest in the world. We are, therefore, working on offerings that appeal the most to this segment. Right from specially curated Broadway shows, adult entertainment, adventure activities, casino, gym, spa, high-end retail therapy and multiple cuisines, Jalesh Cruises has it all.

Another important segment for us is Wedding and MICE. Karnika is fully equipped to cater to the unique needs of special interest groups. Right from pre-wedding ceremonies, parties, honeymoon, corporate off-sites, we are fully geared to creating special moments to give our guests a lifetime worth of memories.

What are the differences you have come across in terms of doing business in India in comparison with other parts of the world? 

There is a significant difference in the manner business is conducted in India. Indians are highly ethical when it comes to work as compared to their counterparts across the world. They are also very well versed with technology and innovation, both of which are key to the success of any business in this day and age.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in the India market?

More than a challenge, we see immense opportunity. The cruise industry is at a very nascent stage in the country and as is the case with any business, it requires a policy framework that provides the industry with the required buoyancy to cruise ahead. We are working closely with the government and stakeholders to bring about industry-friendly regulations such as lowering of taxes to draw more players in the market in order for it to grow.

How is technology transforming the cruise industry according to you? How is Jalesh balancing the technology with a human touch?

Technology is transforming the cruise industry in a big way. It is playing a key role in making the guest experience hassle-free and seamless. Be it booking tickets, to paying for services onboard or embarkation and disembarkation, technology has enabled cruise operators to resolve issues to make the vacation more delightful. Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality can become game changers in the cruising industry and help operators in differentiating the products. Similarly, Machine Learning and Data Analysis can go a long way in enhancing the quality of services and curating experiences for guests simply by understanding a pattern of their demands and preferences.

Our maiden product Karnika has gainfully deployed the technology. For instance, we have one card, which is all that our guests require right from the point of embarkation and right until disembarkation. All accesses and all payments can be made directly with one card. This has really helped our guests because they can enjoy their vacation without worrying about multiple processes to fulfill while they are onboard the ship.

What all destinations you are planning to add in the itinerary in the near future?

We are looking at the Middle East and Asian countries like Singapore in the coming days. We already have itineraries to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Khasab and Muscat in the Middle East. In the domestic market, in addition to Mumbai and Goa, we are exploring locations like Lakshadweep, Diu and Porbandar, which are great places for cruising.


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