During the coronavirus pandemic period, economies have suffered and several businesses have been severely impacted. Tourism is a sector that took one of the biggest hits during this period.
MV Karnika was the first large cruise vessel to homeport in Mumbai and operate to domestic and international destinations. It was also part of the plan to build Mumbai as a major cruise port.
It is the first cruise vessel acquired by Jalesh Cruises Mauritius Ltd., majority-owned by Subhash Chandra, the chairman of Essel Group, and his family. Mr. Chandra owner of Jalesh Cruises Mauritius Ltd. aimed to build a robust cruise tourism industry in India and invested in the project before the financial crisis hit his group. Despite having other investors, he took a personal interest to develop this sector as he felt it had a vast scope of employment generation.
Owners of the cruise released a statement which said that the operations were at standstill since March 2020. This decision was taken as the ports across the country have not been given the nod to resume the operations of the cruise ships due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. Currently, the crew on the ship are living in poor conditions with no fuel, power, or other facilities. The owners of MV Karnika, a 14-deck large premium cruise vessel whose home port is Mumbai, have decided to discontinue its operations due to mounting debts and the uncertainties posed by COVID-19.
Adding more to the statement the firm said that the operations were a standstill since March 2020 the company has mounting debts in outstanding, and creditors have arrested the ship through the Admiralty Court. An appeal has been made to the High Court and the Port trust to seek assistance to provide fuel-powered and basic supplies to the 60 crew members who are currently on the ship. However, no updates have been received yet.
Operations have been at a standstill since creditors arrested the ship through an order of the Admiralty Court on March 17. The owners said they are not in a position to start operations as ports in the country have not given a specific date to resume cruise services owing to the pandemic.
The crew members who are running out of fuel to run the engine and essential supplies have reportedly demanded their pending wages to be paid before being allowed to leave.
“We would like to reassure the crew and their families that we have not forgotten about them, hence, have put the right wheels in motion. We have asked for urgent indulgence with the relevant authorities and are waiting for their feedback. In addition, we assure our crew members that they will receive their salaries as soon as the funds are received. Main priority is to reunite the crew with their families,” The management had said in a statement.
MV Karnika has been docked in Mumbai since March 12 and has not been in operation. Its maiden voyage from Mumbai was in April 2019.