The concept of MICE is growing in India as the corporates are interested to explore various locations to host meetings and conferences. Cruiseliners are promoting ships as a venue for different purposes like MICE, wedding, celebrations, holiday and many more. It has been observed that in addition to the elite families, travel enthusiasts across various sectors in Indian corporates are looking at cruises as MICE destinations for a memorable experience.
India, having the 3rd longest coastline in the world, is in the optimum position to capitalise on the cruise opportunity besides having an interesting cruise liner wanting to come to the Indian port and the booming demand. This has largely been due to introduction of homeport itineraries like Mumbai to Goa, Mumbai to Cochin, Cochin to Maldives and Maldives to Mumbai, bringing cruising closer to the Indian traveller.
Over the last few years, not only has the cruise product been identified as a strong travel option but has become very popular with corporate groups. The prime reasons behind the growing MICE numbers on a Cruise are many. It is mostly credited to ease of handling groups onboard a cruise ship vis a vis land, as cruise ships offer an all-inclusive destination. Most of the groups coming for MICE activities combine work and leisure activities on the cruise ship. Since, everything is available on the ship, from meeting venues and award ceremonies on ship theatre to the leisure activities in the various lounges, pool decks and bars on the cruise. The ease of having everything at one place enhances not only the attendance in terms of the meetings onboard, but gives travellers the flexibility to do whatever they choose to do in the evening.
With the introduction of home-porting itineraries from Mumbai, cruising has come closer to the Indian traveller and from a MICE perspective there are eased out visa requirements and flights, as the itineraries are domestic or to ports like the Maldives, where there is visa is on arrival for Indians.
Talking to Financial Express Online, Nalini Gupta, head of Costa Cruises in India, an Italian Cruising company, said that they are eyeing the growing number of Indians looking for affordable cruise holidays and are docking at major ports such as Mumbai, Goa and Kochi with new, India specific itineraries. "We are offering a host of inspired cuisines and restaurants around the world, and also wellness treatments with entertainment activities such as games, music shows, tournaments, parties, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme evenings among others," Gupta added.