Essel Group-backed Zen Cruises Private Limited has confirmed that they would be starting their first premium brand of leisure cruises with a fully equipped casino under the brand name ‘Jalesh Cruises’ from April 2019 onwards, GLaws reports.
The first vessel, the 2,000 seat, Karnika, will sail from Mumbai to Goa in April this year, with numerous other locations and cruise ships set to be added subsequently. As per the company’s claim, the multi-destination cruise line will offer entertainment shows, adventure activities and exotic authentic cuisines to the passengers.
According to Cruise Industry News, the group bought its first ship from P&O cruises, which it has been refitting.
Essel Group Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra played an important role in forming the India Cruise Lines Association (INCLA) last year. INCLA petitioned Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport, Highways, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari and the Prime Minister’s Office to allow gambling and casinos onboard cruise vessels and permit Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the casino sector.
The association in its petition to the PMO had indicated that currently casino operations can be conducted on cruise vessels beyond 12/200 nautical miles from the Indian coastline, i.e. outside the Indian territorial waters and had urged the government to allow casinos to operate in cruise vessels even within the Indian territorial waters.
It remains unclear whether Jalesh Cruises will be offering casino services to its customers within the Indian territorial waters or opening it only after the ship crosses the Indian coastline.