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Play cricket, enjoy spa on cruise off Kerala coast
[Image: luxury-cruise-ship.jpg]
Play cricket, rejuvenate in a Swedish spa and go shopping -- all this on the high seas! Aquamarine, a luxury cruise ship, offers these and many more holiday pleasures off the Kerala coast from December while sailing to Colombo or the Maldives.

"India is a cricket crazy nation and keeping with the passion, you can now play cricket on the high seas onboard our cruise ship," Oniel R. Khosha, CEO of Louis Cruises, said here Saturday, announcing the launch of the service.

"We are starting the service from Dec 2 and the experience would be amazing," he added.

Tourism Minister Kumari Selja was also present at the occasion.

Vijay Puthran, country head of Louis Cruises (India), told IANS: "There will be two bowling machines and a formal cricket pitch for cricket enthusiasts. As a cricket fan, I want to play on the high seas and all our passengers can avail this service. I will advise my guests to take their bat and cricket gear. You will feel wow on board."

"Cricket is a religion in India and we, as an international player, respect it," he added.

The service will start from Kochi and will go to Colombo and Maldives - though not necessarily in that order. There are two types of packages - a one night option or a three-night stay. The price ranges between Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 12,000 per night per person.

"While cricket is a key attraction, other features include a Kerala massage and Swedish spa. There is also a duty free shop on the ship. We also have three restaurants with a (seating) capacity ranging from 300 to 600. There is a lounge too with 600 capacity," Puthran said.

The capacity of the cruise ship is over 1,200 and it can reach India from Colombo in 20 hours and from the Maldives in 24 hours.

Company officials added that the ship also has a lot of open space where corporate team-building events and religious gatherings can take place.

"We will also allow weddings to take place on our cruise ship in India," he said.

During the current season, the company will run its service thrice a week. The season will continue till April 25 and take a break for monsoon. "We won't providethe service during the monsoon. The next season will start from October 2010," Puthran said.

Speaking on the occasion, Selja said the Indian economy was developing at a steady pace, with the middle class growing in number and increasingly possessing disposable incomes that could be spent on leisure activities.

Selja said that India's over 7,000-km-long coastline and strong port positioning imparts a natural advantage to the country to attract international cruise liners. India's proximity to already popular cruise destinations in Southeast Asia would enable strong cruise circuits to be created over a period of time.

The minister said India, with its vast and beautiful coastline, virgin forests and undisturbed idyllic islands and rich ultural heritage, can be a fabulous destination for cruise tourists.

Cruise Shipping is one of the fastest growing components of the leisure industry worldwide, emerging as a new marketable product with a growth rate of 12 percent per annum globally.(IANS)

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