The river cruise tourism segment, which is in a nascent stage in India, is expected to receive a shot in the arm with the commencement of the world’s longest river cruise journey, Ganga Vilas, on January 13.
The 51-day cruise sailing on the rivers of Ganges and the Brahmaputra will start from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Dibrugarh in Assam, and includes Bangladesh as part of the itinerary.
Operated by Antara Luxury River Cruises, Ganga Vilas offers an opportunity for travellers to explore some of the most ancient regions of South Asia.
With the maiden journey fully booked by Swiss tourists, Raj Singh, founder & chairman, Antara Luxury River Cruises, told TTG Asia: “India’s cultural offerings are a big attraction for foreign tourists. River cruise has the potential to be a new segment for foreign travellers looking to explore India. This cruise will go through the hinterlands which otherwise are not accessible.”
He added that the historic route was finalised with the support, assistance and cooperation of both India and Bangladesh governments to ensure a seamless travel between the two countries.
Beginning September 2023, the river cruise journey will have regular departures operating throughout the year. With key inbound markets like the UK and Europe, the cruise will also be marketed in South-east Asian markets such as Singapore and Malaysia.
“For our other shorter river cruises of seven days, we have received good response from South-east Asian markets. We will be engaging with foreign tour operators in the region to promote this new offering,” said Singh.
Priced at US$66,000 plus taxes per cabin for two, the journey offers many offshore and onshore experiences including a visit to UNESCO-protected Sundarbans, home to the world’s largest mangrove forest; Matiari, where guests can watch brassware and textiles in the villages being hand-created; and Vikramshila, the site of one of the largest ancient Buddhist universities.