Today, the Aquamarine sailed her inaugural cruise from the Indian port of Kochi and to mark the occasion, a ceremony took place yesterday on the Pier in the presence of the Minister of Tourism of India and other officials. The Aquamarine is the first cruise ship to sail from India and offer cruises targeting the Indian market, according to a press release from Louis Cruises. The Aquamarine carries 1,200 passengers and will offer itineraries on the Kochi-to-Maldives-Kochi, and the Kochi-Colombo-Kochi routes, in addition to a one-night high sea-sailing.

Speaking at the ceremony, Union Minister for Tourism Kumari Selja, underlined the tremendous scope for cruise tourism in the country, given India’s strong domestic tourism sector and growing middle class and the country’s 7,517 kilometers of coastline. In his address, Dr. Venu, Secretary Kerala Tourism stated that the voyages from Kochi, is an exciting product to offer the Indian market, which is craving for new experiences. He added that this new development will further boost Kochi’s position as a cruise hub and destination in the area.

Louis Loizou, Louis Group executive director and deputy CEO of Louis Cruises expressed the company’s satisfaction in being able to add Kochi to its list of homeports, the first non-European base for Louis’ 12-ship fleet.. Loizou thanked the Indian authorities for their warm welcome and noted the endless potential of the Indian tourism market and the group’s strong belief that cruising will be embraced by Indians and visitors alike.

The Aquamarine will homeport in Kochi from Dec. 2, 2009 to April 25, 2010 and will sail three times a week. Around 60,000 Indian tourists are expected to cruise on the ship this season. It should be noted that Kerala Tourism has joined Louis in joint marketing and promotion efforts.

Louis Cruises, as part of its strategy to offer tailored-made cruises that cater for the needs and tastes of the Indian market, has proceeded with the addition of a cricket pitch – giving Indian travelers a new experience of playing cricket on the high seas. Food and entertainment onboard have been tweaked for Indian tastes.

Commenting on the launch of Louis Cruises’ Indian operation, Costakis Loizou, Louis Group executive chairman expressed his great satisfaction on this important day for Louis Cruises and added: "We feel proud for being the first to charter cruise ships to major European tour operators and thus open cruising to the mass tourism market. Today, with our own brand operations we are introducing the benefits of cruising and its unique advantages to Indian travelers. The Aquamarine’s inaugural sailing is merely the first step of our long-term plans in India and the successful opening of a new market for us and cruising as a whole".