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A Ganges Cruise By Hell Or Low Water

April 5, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

It was a little worrying at first to receive a message from the shipping company only hours before we were scheduled to leave Sydney advising a change in plans for our cruise on the Ganges. The famous river was low on water and our journey from Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) to Murshidabad was diverted to Mayapur cutting out approx 90 k’s because of the low water line which can happen towards the end of the cruising season. This was not a problem as the crew were very resourceful and sourced some very interesting extra stops including, temples, markets, silk-weaving operations and an insight into small village life where tourist very rarely go.

Ganges Voyager

At Kalna we tied to the river bank alongside a cricket ground where the Kalna team was playing the local police eleven for the championship. They invited me to do some commentary and then when it was a tie, asked me to toss the deciding rupee which gave the police team a victory. The hospitality and excitement the players and supporters displayed to this small group of Australians and Americans watching the game has created an indelible memory. To add to the occasion the third test between Australia and India was at that stage finely poised.

We embark on the two year old MV Ganges Voyager in time for lunch on day one and after a fine buffet we go on an excursion which includes Mother Teresa’s house and tomb and walk to her orphanage where we are greeted by very happy children ranging from 12 months to teenage. The government recently banned adoption in India as they are not in favour of single or same sex parents adopting.

On the banks of the Ganges

Kolkata the City of Joy, is a vibrant colorful city. There are beautiful architectural and cultural remnants of days past when it was a trading post for the East India Company. The city’s colonial British Raj landmarks include the government buildings around the CBD, Bagh Square and the iconic Victoria Memorial Museum, dedicated to Britain’s queen. Other attractions are the vibrant Kali temple and its colorful bazaars. Kolkata is arguably the most interesting metropolis in India.

One of the highlights of the trip was the stop at the banks of the river for an hour of pre-dinner moonlight drinks, canapes and entertainment. The staff arranged everything including seating, fireworks and helped guests launch orange balloons into the night sky. It was one of many memorable occasions for us and particularly for the local workers and families from the nearly brick factory who gathered and watched the entertainment with great excitement.

Victoria Memorial Museum

The three ships in the fleet are owned and operated by Heritage Journeys the Ganges Voyager and the Ganges Voyager 11 are identical with 28 suites ranging from the Signature suite up to the very imposing 37 sq metre (400 ft) Maharaja Suite located forward on the upper deck and featuring butler service and in room dining on request. Like all the suites it is luxuriously furnished with stenciled walls, Persian rugs, Burma teak floors and colonial prints.

Both ships can accommodate a maximum of 56 passengers (we had only 24). The other member of the fleet the RV Bengal Ganga cruises mainly upstream from Kolkata to Varanasi. She was built in 2004 and also has 28 staterooms

With the captains

The 2,525 km (1,569 miles) Ganges or Ganda flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh rising in the western Himalayas and flows south and east into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus. It is also a salvation to millions of Indians who live along its banks and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism.

For more information on cruising the Ganges:

For booking inquiries:    John Boyd

Written by John Savage

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