Bhubaneswar: India’s best-kept secret – Odisha – has always mesmerized travelers visiting this eastern state of India. Since the successful hosting of international events here, the culturally-rich state has witnessed spurt in tourist footfall.
While increase in flight services at Biju Patnaik International Airport and soon-to-be operationalised airports has contributed to tourism in the State, docking of ships at Odisha coast opens a new horizon for tourists.
Luxury cruise liner Silversea Cruises has included Paradip port in its Asian expedition itinerary. Silver Discoverer of Silversea Cruises will be calling at the port during January and February. In its first port of call, it will anchor at the port on January 26. The tourists will visit ancient Buddhist heritage site at Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri in Jajpur district.
“These maiden calls will provide much required boost to the cruise tourism in Odisha and in particular to upcoming ports like Gopalpur and other ports. In Odisha, we have plenty of experiences to offer with our rich natural and cultural heritage. It is time now when the International Cruise business is shifting focus to India we need to engage and enhance cruise passenger terminal facilities at existing ports with seamless immigration, custom services and tourist assistance facilities along with the offering of local arts and crafts shopping at the sites, which can generate income and support to the local community. This will also encourage entrepreneurs to invest and enhance their business prospects,” promoter of Odisha’s oldest tour operator Travel Link, Benjamine Simon said.
Notably, the first cruise vessel from the United States came in the early 80s followed by few other European cruise liners in the late 90s and early 2000s. However, the continuity of the port of call could not be maintained as there was expansion work on the express highway and heavy traffic congestion of loading and unloading of trucks which had put inconvenience for the tourist movement from Paradip port.
The luxury cruise Silver Discoverer, departing from Chennai, covers visit to the other ports like Visakhapatnam, Sundarbans, Mahehkhali Island, St. Martin Island (Bangladesh), Nagapali Beach, Rakhine State, Mawlamyine & Hpa An Port Yazar in Yangoon, Myanmar.
The liner was very keen to include Gopalpur on sea port so that it can showcase Asia’s largest brackish water Chilka Lake, and witness the migratory birds, Irrawaddy dolphins as well the Olive Ridley turtles during this period in Puri and Ganjam district. The Gopalpur port needs to come forward and welcome this new segment of business for a win-win situation, Simon added.
When contacted, Gopalpur Ports Ltd said that the port is under construction for a major expansion. The port neither has nor is designed for passenger movement. In line with its policy of international best practice in safety and security, J.M. Baxi & Travel Link Tour Operator were informed well in advance about the ports inability to ensure passenger safety. M/S Baxi was accordingly advised to make safe alternative plans for the international visitors.
Since its inception in the early 90s, Silversea Cruises has been recognised as the gold standard in luxury cruising, acclaimed both for its legendary European lifestyle and global reach of destinations. Today, Silversea Cruises operates a global portfolio of itineraries to all seven continents and over 900 destinations worldwide. The cruise line’s headquarters are based in Monaco, and the company maintains branch offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia.