Zen Cruises, a company backed by the Mumbai-based Essel Group, will embark on their first premier leisure casino cruises around the Indian sub-continent in April.
Under the brand name Jalesh Cruises, Zen will offer a fully-equipped casino aboard the 2,000- seat Karnika.
Essel Group took delivery of the vessel, unoriginally the Crown Princess and most recently operated as Pacific Jewel by P&O Cruises Australia, last March.
Karnika will set sail from Mumbai and travel down India’s west coast to Goa before making a return trip, stopping in ports along the route.
Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra has been instrumental in developing the India Cruise Lines Association (INCLA), which has coordinated efforts to obtain approval for gambling on cruise ships.
The association has played a central role in lobbying government officials, petitioning to the prime minister’s office and the Union Ministry for Shipping, Road Transport, Highways, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, to approve casinos aboard cruise ships, as well as to allow Foreign Direct Investments in the casino industry.
It is not clear whether the company will currently offer casino operations within in India’s territorial waters, however the INCLA is reportedly seeking approval for this.