JANUARY 14, 2023
Varanasi – Vegetarian Indian cuisine, assorted non-alcoholic beverages, a spa and doctors on call are some of the features of the world’s longest luxury river cruise MV Ganga Vilas, which was flagged off on Friday for its 3,200 km maiden journey from this ancient city to Dibrugarh in Assam.
The 51-day luxury journey covering five Indian states, and Bangladesh will cost Rs 50-55 lakh per passenger.
However, one will have to wait for more than a year to get a suite in the luxury ship, which will cruise across 17 river systems as it is fully booked till March 2024.
The bookings are available for tours from April 2024 onwards.
The holiday promises an experiential voyage as the tourists will get a chance to indulge in the art, culture, history and spirituality of India and Bangladesh.
The cost of the entire length of the journey from Varanasi to Dibrugarh on the world’s longest river cruise — MV Ganga Vilas — will be around Rs 50-55 lakh per passenger, Antara Luxury River Cruises Vice President Saudamini Mathur said.
Antara Luxury River Cruises is operating MV Ganga Vilas.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off MV Ganga Vilas for its maiden voyage with 32 tourists from Switzerland.
Mathur said the cruise is fully booked till March 2024 and bookings are available beyond that. Most of the tourists who have secured seats are from the US and Europe.
MV Ganga Vilas is the first-ever cruise vessel made in India.
The luxury cruise has three decks and 18 suites on board with a capacity of 36 tourists with all the luxury amenities.
The tourists will be served local food and seasonal vegetables, Mathur said.
Antara Luxury River Cruises founder and CEO Raj Singh said there will be no non-veg food or liquor on board.
The ship has 39 crew members and its captain is Mahadev Naik who has more than 35 years of experience.
Speaking to PTI Knegar Krieger, a Swiss national who is on board for the maiden journey, said, “Traveling on the Ganges is a very special experience, it is once in a lifetime experience, not to be missed”.
Thommien Christian, another Swiss tourist, said: “Everything is fantastic on this cruise”.
The 51-day cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots, including world heritage sites, national parks, river ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.
The travelers will also visit the Bihar School of Yoga and Vikramshila University.
MV Ganga Vilas vessel is 62 meters in length, and 12 meters in width and comfortably sails with a draft of 1.4 meters.
All of the 18 suites have floor-to-ceiling windows that allow river views 24×7.
According to an official statement, the global river cruise market has grown by 5 per cent over the last few years and is expected to constitute 37 per cent of the cruise market by 2027.
Europe has been driving the growth with approximately 60 per cent share of river cruise vessels in the world.
In India, 8 river cruise vessels are operational between Kolkata and Varanasi, and it is also operational on National Waterways 2 (Brahmaputra).
The statement said construction of 10 passenger terminals across NW2 is going on, which will further bolster the prospect of the river cruise.
At present, four river cruise vessels are operational in NW2 while it is operating in a limited capacity in NW3 (West Coast Canal), NW8, NW 4, NW 87, NW 97 and NW 5.
Courtesy/Source: PTI – Press Trust of india