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Pandaw returns to all-Ganges cruising after 10 years

July 23, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

River cruise company Pandaw is returning to the Ganges, with an “all-Ganges” voyage of about 1600km scheduled for late 2019, a decade after the company shocked the industry by cancelling its Ganges operation.

Problems navigating the river were one reason given for the 2010 withdrawal. The Ganges is notoriously difficult to navigate, with sandbanks shifting sometimes daily and certainly weekly. Pandaw has run occasional lower Ganges sailings since.

The Pandaw cruise I took in 2009 ran aground at one point, necessitating rudder repairs. A vessel from the Inland Waterways Authority of India sailed in front of us, its crew using long poles to take depth soundings.

“Now thanks to a multi-million dollar investment from the Indian Government channels have been dredged and buoyed and hi-tech GPS based aids installed enabling seasonal navigation,” Pandaw said last week.

The 2019 cruise will start in Kolkata and head to Varanasi, said to be the world’s oldest inhabited city and the most sacred city of Hinduism – a place of overwhelming beauty and at the same time poignantly moving with its cremation ghats.

Between Kolkata and Varanasi lie several important Buddhist sites and expanses of empty river teeming with birdlife.

When Pandaw launched its Ganges cruise program in 2009, it was the first time scheduled cruises had operated on the river since the 1930s. Pandaw admitted at the time the itinerary would be challenging. In the event, it proved too challenging.

“We had always known that the logistics of operating in India would be challenging,” wrote Pandaw’s founder Paul Strachan in 2010. “We took up the challenge to provide our Pandaw passengers with the sort of adventure they would expect from Pandaw. The passengers who sailed onboard the RV Bengal Pandaw gave us mixed reviews. Most of them loved the ‘wildness’ of the trip while others found the trip not living up to the standards of our other Pandaw Cruises.”


“With extreme variation in water levels and very strong flow rates, navigating the Ganges verges on the impossible.”

Pandaw says those difficulties have now been overcome.

The new cruise is 14 nights and it will sell from USD 4671 per person, excluding airfares.

Written by Peter Needham

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