The launch of world’s longest river cruise with MV Ganga Vilas by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 13 in Varanasi will herald a new age of river cruise tourism for India, said Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush.
The luxury cruise will cover a distance of more than 3,200 kms across 27 river systems in 5 states in India and Bangladesh. The huge untapped potential of river cruise is set to get unlocked with the launch of this service, added Shri Sonowal.
The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is curated to bring out the best of the country to be showcased to the world. The 51 days cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including World Heritage Sights, 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 MV Ganga Vilas vessel is 62 meters in length, 12 meters in width and comfortably sails with a draft of 1.4 meters. It has three decks, 18 suites on board with a capacity of 36 tourists, with all the amenities to provide a memorable and luxurious experience for the tourists. The ship follows sustainable principles at its core as it is equipped with pollution-free mechanisms and noise control technologies.
The maiden voyage of MV Ganga Vilas will witness 32 tourists from Switzerland relishing the Varanasi to Dibrugarh journey. The expected date of arrival of MV Ganga Vilas in Dibrugarh is on 1st March, 2023.
The itinerary of MV Ganga Vilas has been curated to showcase the rich heritage of India with stop overs in spots of historical, cultural and religious importance. From the famous “Ganga Arti” in Varanasi, it will stop at Sarnath, a place of great reverence for Buddhism. It will also cover Mayong, known for its Tantric craft, and Majuli, the largest river island and hub of Vaishnavite cultural in Assam.
The travellers will also visit the Bihar School of Yoga and Vikramshila University, allowing them to soak in the rich Indian heritage in spirituality and knowledge. The cruise will also traverse through the biodiversity rich World Heritage Sites of Sunderbans in Bay of Bengal delta, famous for Royal Bengal Tigers, as well as Kaziranga National Park, famous for one horn rhino.
The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is a first-of-its-kind cruise service. With support from the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) under Ministry of Shipping, Ports and Waterways (MoPSW), the success of this service is likely to enthuse entrepreneurs to explore river cruise in other parts of the country.
The global River cruise market has grown at ~5% over the last few years and is expected to constitute ~37% of cruise market by 2027. Europe has been driving growth with approx. 60% share of river cruise vessels in the world. In India, 8 river cruise vessels are operational between Kolkata and Varanasi while cruise movement is also operation on National Waterways 2 (Brahmaputra).