How Cruises Became South Asian Getaways

Bollywood and value for money ignited our wanderlust. Now, those approaching retirement and seeking comfort are some of the industry’s newest patrons.

dil dhadakne do cruise vacations
A still from Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)

Mehr Singh


May 19, 2023


8 min

In Zoya Akhtar’s maritime masterpiece, Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), the dysfunctional Mehra family’s secrets begin to unravel as they board a cruise ship for their parents’ anniversary. In Kaho Naa….Pyaar Hai (2000), Hrithik Roshan croons a song as he and Ameesha Patel embark on a days-long cruise that passes by Thailand. And in Bhootnath (2008), Shah Rukh Khan is an engineer who works on a cruise line. 

In a case of life imitating art and vice versa, since the early 2000s, more South Asians have emerged as patrons of the cruise ship industry. For example, over 125,000 Indians went on cruise vacations in 2015, leading to a 45% increase in revenue from the prior year. Before the pandemic, the second most popular destination for cruises was Asia. And today, at least 10 of the world’s top cruise companies have offices in India’s coastal cities.

Despite a pandemic and several alternative travel choices, the cruise industry is seeing more South Asians setting sail — and it’s not just because of Bollywood.

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