Royal Asian Cruises has signed an agreement with the Board of Investment in Sri Lanka to launch a luxury cruise line in Sri Lanka.

Royal Asian Cruises [RAC], which currently has offices in the US and in India, will invest US$200 million over the years in the Sri Lankan venture. It will also acquire and operate two vessels over the course of 2016.

The cruise line will cater to the global leisure travel markets with special emphasis on the Indian and Sri Lankan diaspora and the European and Southeast Asian markets.

Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera, Chairman of the BOI signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI and Mano Sinnarajah, Chairman/Managing Director signed the agreement on behalf of Royal Asian Cruises.

The first, state-of-the-art, modern cruise ships to be Home Ported in Sri Lanka will be an 800-passenger vessel and is scheduled to set sail in late 2015 from the Port of Colombo.

Royal Asian Cruises also plans to invest in a larger second vessel which will be able to comfortably accommodate 1,500 – 2,000 passengers, which should enter service in early 2016.

“As a Sri Lankan, I am really proud to be back in my homeland, and investing in a large-scale project of this nature. It gives me pleasure in knowing that Sri Lanka is now a safe country, conducive for investment and business opportunities” stated Mano Sinnarajah, Chairman / Managing Director, Royal Asian Cruises.

Speaking further, Sinnarajah stated: “This venture will have many direct and indirect benefits on the Sri Lankan economy, starting from the provisioning services from local businesses the cruise vessel will require in operating from Sri Lanka to the natural shopping and spending capability of the passengers and crew that will arrive on a weekly basis.”

In order to provide guests a memorable luxury cruise experience, RAC has assembled a team of the most experienced cruise executives in the business and has partnered with internationally renowned marine architecture and interior design company, Tillberg Design, to craft the interiors of its cruise ships.

Expressing himself on the signing of this project, Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera, Chairman, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka stated: “It is truly gratifying to see that a Sri Lankan has returned to his mother country to invest in a project of this nature. Catering to a sector in the leisure travel industry that has not been previously addressed, Royal Asian Cruises will help Sri Lanka meet the targets in tourism set up by the Government of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, this project will contribute towards making Sri Lanka a major maritime hub, which is a strategic objective of the Government.”

Using Sri Lanka as its home port, the cruise line will have year – round cruises and will call on ports such as Maldives and Cochin on seven-night cruises. They also plan to offer shorter (3- & 4-night) cruises around Sri Lanka and longer cruises (10 and 11-nights) all the way to Singapore and back.

“With this venture, we plan on delivering an outstanding guest experience in Sri Lanka” stated Andrew Landsberger, Director of Shore Excursions. “We will project Sri Lanka as a one-stop destination because of the unique geography and nature it has, in comparison to other countries with similar capabilities.”

Other members of the Royal Asian Cruises executive team include Bill Chambers, who will head up international marketing. Chambers has over 35 years managing the marketing of luxury cruise products and this is the third cruise line start-up he has initiated. Other members of the Executive Team include Paul Hardy as VP of Entertainment and Siegfried Schober as VP of Hotel Operation.

Royal Asian Cruises is also expected to create a significant number of employment opportunities for Sri Lankans and their five-year plan is to expand to a fleet of five ships representing a total investment of 720 million US Dollars.