US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises is looking to tap the increasing number of Indians spending vacations on cruises, exploring customers even from non-metros such as Raipur, Ludhiana.
"Cruising is now popular in the metro cities and spreading to the mini-metros... Most of the major cruise liners are present in India today," Royal Caribbean Cruises Regional VP, Asia Pacific, Gavin Smith said.
The Indian upper middle class which has aspirations and the segment which travels abroad for holidays are now also considering cruising as an option, he added.
"Cruising is now a part of the consideration set of the affluent and well travelled," Smith said, adding all leading cruise liners are present in India.
Meanwhile, Tirun Travel Marketing, which represents Royal Caribbean Cruises in India, is expanding its network in India. At present it has a network of seven offices and plans more.
"We would open six more offices this year, which would be located at the places where the people are aspiring to spend," Tirun Travel Marketing Chief Executive, Ratna Chadha said.
Ludhiana, Raipur and Ranchi are some of the non-metros that the company is actively exploring to spread its network.
Bullish on the growth of the cruising business, she said:" Approximately over 1,00,000 Indians took a cruise holiday in 2013. Our year on year growth has been approximately 8 per cent. We expect the same this year."
However, she also added that economic recession and depreciation of the Indian Rupee against US dollar has impacted the business.
"This year, election and depreciation of the Indian Rupee had impacted the growth. Although it may not increase as expected but would remain the same," Chadha said.
According to the Miami-based cruise operator, India is a prominent market for them in the Asia Pacific region.
"Next growth in cruising would come from Asia Pacific region in the next 3 to 5 years, where India would be one of the important markets," said Smith.
Chadha said cruising has emerged as an affordable holiday option with a person spending around USD 100 per day, which includes food and lodging to sight seeing.
The business would grow further if cruise services start from India. Presently, Indian cruisers have to go either to Singapore, Dubai or Europe to board, she said.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is one of the world's biggest global cruise vacation companies. It owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France.
It owns 41 ships with four under construction.