Kerala – Gulf passenger ship service: Ticket for Rs 10,000, luggage of 200 kg allowed

The project will be beneficial to expatriates who are forced to pay exorbitant amounts to purchase airplane tickets. Photo: Shutterstock/OlegRi

Dubai: To the joy of Gulf-based expatriates, the long-pending Kerala–Gulf passenger ship project has taken a major step forward. The Kerala Maritime Board has invited applications from those who are interested in operating passenger ship services between Vizhinjam, Bepore, Kollam and Azheekkal ports in Kerala and the ports in the Gulf. The notification says that the applications should be submitted both online and offline before 3 pm on April 22. It must be noted that applications should be submitted separately for the operation of ships in the big, medium and small categories.

Easy on pocket
The project will be beneficial to expatriates who are forced to pay exorbitant amounts to purchase airplane tickets. The airfare from the Gulf countries to Kerala and other parts of India continues to rise, pushing expatriates into financial burden. Sarbananda Sonowal, the Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways informed the Lok Sabha, a few months ago, that the ministry had decided to invite tenders for the shipping service. This was decided in an online meeting that was held in November last year, between the ministry and the Shipping Corporation of India, NORKA ROOTS and Kerala Maritime Board. It was informed that those who can provide ships immediately to launch the service between Kerala and the Gulf or possess ships that are suitable for this project or those who are interested in operating such services would be able to take part in the tender.

However, the Indian Association of Sharjah had been working on this project for a few months. The project had even taken a new turn when the central Minister made the statement in the Lok Sabha. But, there has not been any news about the launch of the passenger ship service ever since Adv. YA Rahim quit the position of President of the Sharjah Indian Association. Meanwhile, the Kerala Maritime Board has invited applications for operating the ship service. The expatriates are hopeful that the new committee led by Nissar Thalankara and Sree Prakash would show enthusiasm for this project which would be beneficial for the Indian diaspora in the Gulf region.

Baggage limit and ticket fare
The update that was shared by the Indian Association Sharjah, months ago, had delighted the Malayalis who struggle to purchase air tickets by spending an exorbitant amount. Meanwhile, the ticket on the ship service costs around Rs 10000 per person and the passengers would be allowed to carry 200 kg of luggage. Besides, the passengers could enjoy lots of entertainment events onboard during the trip which is expected to be around three days. Adv. YA Rahim had earlier said that a service would be operated on an experimental basis before approving two trips in a month. Meanwhile, CE Chakkunni, President of the Malabar Development Council had requested Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the central government via Minister V Muraleedharan to conduct a study regarding the scope of operating passenger cruise ships between Bepore/Kochi ports in Kerala and Mina Al Rashid port in Dubai.

Up to 1,250 passengers in a trip
Ships with all the modern facilities would be used to operate the services. Earlier, a ship that was commissioned by another state and later forgone, was zeroed in for the Dubai–Kerala passenger service; this ship was built in Kochi. This ship is large enough to accommodate up to 1,250 passengers in a single trip. Expatriates are often worried about the airfares that keep skyrocketing. It is hoped that the proposed passenger ship service would offer a solution for this.

The efforts of Malabar Development Council
The Malabar Development Council had conducted multiple rounds of discussions with various partners including the Shipping Corporation of India, Indian Association Sharjah and Anandapuram Shipping and Logistics Private Limited to see this project through. Meanwhile, a consensus was reached between the major partners in the last meeting. Besides, a decision has been reached to form a consortium between Indian Association Sharjah and Anandapuram Shipping and Logistics Private Limited.

Inaugurating the high-profile meeting between the Malabar Development Council and the Kerala Maritime Board at Thiruvananthapuram, Minister Ahamad Devarkovil stated that a passenger ship service from the Malabar region to the Gulf countries would be launched to solve the travelling difficulties faced by the expatriates. He had even said that the initial discussions regarding this project had already begun.

Even though a ship service was started between UAE and Kerala, years ago, it was short-lived. Meanwhile, the expatriates are hopeful about the newly proposed passenger ship service. The expatriates living in the Gulf region say that they would be saved from the unjust looting of the airline companies if this ship service is launched.

The application form for operating ships could be downloaded from this website. You could also write to the Chief Executive Officer, Kerala Maritime Board, TC XX11/1666 (4&5), First floor, Mulamoottil Building, Pipinmoodu, Sasthamangalam, Thiruvananthapuram – 695010 to know more about the application procedure. Phone – 9544410029, Email –

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