Indian river cruise growth


India’s play for the river cruise market continues to gather momentum, with Avalon Waterways expanding its itineraries on India’s colourful Ganges River in 2019.

Avalon has combined a land and cruise package with a six-night itinerary on its all-suite Ganges Voyager ship at Kolkata.

The boutique ship accommodates 56 passengers and has been designed in the style of the colonial era with wooden furniture and hand-stenciled murals. Cabins range from the deluxe 260-square foot deluxe suite to the 400-square-foot Majaraja suite. The ship also has an open-seating dining room, spa treatment rooms, bar, observation deck, library and offers complimentary WiFi in its lounges. It has 35 crew members.

Passengers will spend two nights in New Delhi, two nights in Agra and two nights in Jaipur before flying to Kolkata to embark on a 6-night cruise on the Ganges River.

The cruise will start at Kolkata heading north to Kalna. Here guests will be able to visit a muslin-weaver’s home, a historic temple complex and take a guided tour of Kalna.

The next day, passengers will cruise to Matiari starting with a morning walk in the brass-making village of Matiari to interact with craftsmen. They will also watch how traditional candy is made.

The cruise will then call at Murshidabad. Passengers will be taken on an excursion to Azhimganj to see the local gold and silversmith workshops. They will visit a local mansion to enjoy authentic Indian tea and travel by electric rickshaw to Jiaganj to watch the art of saree weaving.

The next day the cruise will call at Mayapur and will visit a farmer’s home, walk through a pilgrim’s bazaar and visit a temple.

The ship will then return to Kolkata where passengers will be taken to a colourful flower market and visit Mother Teresa’s former home and the Calcutta rescue. They will also visit Victoria Memorial Museum. On the last night, passengers will enjoy a special Indian dance performance.

Passengers will be able to choose whether they want to undertake active, classic or discovery shore excursions.

Discovery programs cater for niche interests such as cooking classes or painting workshops. Active excursions will appeal to the more energetic  passengers offering jogging, cycling and paddling options while classic program will explore the history and heritage of the destinations.