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Costa Serena embarks on two months of cruises from India

Costa Cruises' Francesco Raffa presents Sarbananda Sonowal, union minister of ports, shipping and waterways, with a Costa ship model aboard Costa Serena
Costa Serena arrived in Mumbai to begin a series of 23 India cruises.

Inaugural festivities were held aboard the ship on Friday before the first sailing on Saturday.

Costa Serena will be operating two-, three- and five-day cruises from Mumbai to Kochi, Goa and Agatti in the Lakshadweep Islands until early January. The final cruise will explore the Maldives.

The inaugural was attended by Sarbananda Sonowal, union minister of ports, shipping and waterways, along with Francesco Raffa, director Asia region & growth markets, Costa Cruises; Nalini Gupta of Lotus Aero Enterprises, Costa's general sales agent; and other senior officials.

Operating in India since 2016

'We are extremely happy to sail again in India where we've been operating since 2016,' Raffa said. 'We are bringing to our Indian guests our authentic Italian hospitality with a local personalization in terms of food and entertainment. 

'India is an important market for Costa,' he continued, 'both for our established Fly&Cruise programs to Dubai and the Mediterranean, and for our newly introduced local operations sailing domestically. We are grateful to the Indian government for the efforts to support domestic tourism and infrastructure development. India is working to develop the cruise industry and we are excited to sail together towards the vision of the Indian government.'

'Full support' for homeporting ships

Sonowal offered 'full support' to lines homeporting their ships in India, adding: 'We are ready to support further development of our port infrastructure to accommodate large cruise ships. It is a moment of pride for us that when the Mumbai Port completes 150 years, we have Costa coming back to offer domestic cruising options to Indian travelers.'

Noting Indians will be able to sail on Costa Serena using just their Aadhaar card (an official biometric identity document), Gupta said they can 'easily access an experience of vacationing right from home without the hassle of visas or flights, while still getting that international holiday experience with the Indian touch.'

The cruises are being promoted to families and couples, for wedding ceremonies, groups and corporate incentive travel, with Costa Serena providing reserved areas and services.