Rebooted Indian Cruise Line Emerges as Buyer of Empress of the Seas

empress of the seas
Empress of the Seas, seen here in Pullmantur livery as the Empress (file image)

Published Dec 28, 2020 10:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

An Indian division of the U.S.-based Dream Hotel Group has been identified as the buyer of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Empress of the Seas. 

Waterways Leisure Tourism Private Ltd., a firm described in Indian press as a division of Dream Hotel Group, has announced that it is launching a new brand - Cordelia Cruises - with the newly-acquired cruise ship Empress of the Seas. The 1,600-passenger vessel will be redeployed for the Indian market, according to Waterways Leisure CEO Jurgen Bailom. 

The announcement marks a fresh start for the organization. Dream Hotel / Waterways Leisure bought the business operations and IP of the shuttered Jalesh Cruises / Zen Cruises brand in November, taking over from Indian conglomerate Essel Group. Essel launched the first cruise of its Jalesh brand in April 2019, but business came to a standstill in early 2020 due to COVID-19 control measures imposed by the Indian government. Essel Group announced that it would discontinue Jalesh Cruises' operations in October. 

Essel sold Jalesh's brand and remaining business assets to Waterways in November, shortly after the judicial sale of Jalesh's sole cruise ship, the KarnikaKarnika (ex name Pacific Jewel) ended her service at the Shree Ram Group recycling yard in Alang the same month. 

After Jalesh was sold, CEO Jurgen Bailom continued on as the head of the new enterprise. The short-lived Jalesh brand will now be sunsetted, Bailom said, and Waterways / Cordelia will continue "the legacy of Jalesh Cruises in upholding the spirit, culture, and value of 'Incredible India.'"

Cordelia Cruises' new ship, Empress of the Seas, is a 50,000 GT vessel built in 1990. Last month, Royal Caribbean announced that Empress and the larger Majesty of the Seas had both been sold to a single "undisclosed party" in the Asia-Pacific, but Bailom did not suggest that Waterways / Cordelia had purchased both ships.