The first cruise for Indian tourists from Chennai arrived at Sri Lanka’s southern port of Hambantota on Wednesday.
The “MS Empress” arrived with 1,600 passengers and 600 crew members on board, said the local representative of Advantis and Cordelia cruises.
Under a partnership between Advantis – the transport and logistics arm of Hayleys Group – and Cordelia Cruises, Advantis – Travel and Aviation will act as general sales agent, while Advantis Group subsidiary Clarion Shipping will act as port agent for Cordelia Cruises in Sri Lanka, local media previously reported.
About 80,000 tourists – mostly Indians – are expected to use the Chennai-Hambantota-Trincomalee-Chennai service every week for the next four months.
The newly launched cruise service would call at three ports – Hambantota, Trincomalee and Kankesanturai – in Sri Lanka.
The launch of the cruise service comes amid the Memorandum of Understanding for Domestic and International Cruise Services signed between Chennai Port and Waterways Leisure Tourism at the Incredible India International Cruise Conference in 2022.
“We are delighted to welcome Cordelia Cruises and to expand into a whole new segment of luxury cruise tourism,” said Mohan Pandithage, Chairman of Hayleys Group.
India is Sri Lanka’s main entry point for tourists. Over 23,000 Indians visited Sri Lanka in May, followed by Russia in second place with over 7,000 tourists.
The first international cruise ship between Chennai and Sri Lanka was flagged down by Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday.