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IRCTC launches cruises for domestic and outbound travellers

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited has sailed into a promising new cruise segment with multiple ports of call within India.
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Starting this Saturday, Indian travellers will be able to enjoy domestic and international cruise travel. This is a result of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) signing an agreement with Cordelia Cruises (being operated by M/s Waterways Leisure Tourism Pvt Ltd) for promotion and marketing of the luxury cruise in India.

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The Centrum. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.

The first phase has sailings to Goa, Kochi and Lakshadweep from the home port of Mumbai, while with the second phase from next year we can expect outbound cruise itineraries to Sri Lankan destinations like Colombo, Galle, Trincomalee and Jaffna, starting from Chennai.

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The Pool Deck. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.

For now, you can pick from a Cruise Weekender, which just takes you to the high seas and back for a fun weekend, the Sundowner to Goa, which gives you a day for shore excursions in Goa before bringing you back to Mumbai, and the Kerala Delight, which starts in Mumbai and drops you in Kochi, and vice versa (Cruise from Kochi). Cruise to Lakshadweep, is a five nights itinerary that includes two days at sea, and one each in Kochi and Lakshadweep’s beautiful Kadmat Island. Like this, there are various combinations from the various ports that you can explore on their website.

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An Interior Stateroom. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.

The sails start from Rs 19,898 for a two-night cruise itinerary up to four persons in one of the 313 interior staterooms. Other categories include 414 ocean view staterooms, 63 staterooms with a balcony, five suites, and the super luxe Chairman’s Suite that measures a sumptuous 596 sq ft with a balcony of 222 sq ft more!

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The well-appointed cabin of a Suite. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.
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The beautiful bedroom with a balcony in the Chairman’s Suite. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.

The perks of booking a suite include a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine on the first evening of your holiday, priority embarkation and disembarkation at the beginning and at the end of the cruise, porter service during check-in and check-out, complimentary wifi and laundry services, access to a reserved section at the Marquee Theatre, and a complimentary tour of the Bridge during the cruise.

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Plush entrance to the theatre. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.

There will be a host of entertainment options besides the Broadway-style theatre, including a casino (in international waters), three restaurants, five bars, a swimming pool, salon, spa, fitness centre, a rock-climbing wall, and a reading nook.

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Starlight Restaurant. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.
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The Chef’s table. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.
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Sea-facing fitness centre. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.
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Spa therapy at sea. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.
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The rock-climbing wall onboard the cruise ship. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.
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The lobby area. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.
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The stunning atrium on the Empress. Image: Courtesy IRCTC.

The Empress cruise ship, which has sailed everywhere, from the Bahamas to Bermuda in her stint with Royal Caribbean before she was acquired by Cordelia Cruises in 2020, has 11 passenger decks, 796 cabins, and a speed of 19.5 knots. With limited guests, a fully vaccinated crew, a stringent Covid-19 protocol in place, daily health checks, hourly sanitisation of facilities, air filtration and social distancing, the cruise company promises guests a sanitised stay.

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