Uniworld’s Ganges Voyager II is set to debut in India in 2016. // © 2014 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has made the decision to cruise India’s Ganges River starting in January 2016. Ganges Voyager II will carry 56 passengers and offer 28 staterooms ranging in size from 261 square feet to 400 square feet. The guest to crew ratio will be 1:2.
“We will sail 16 cruises the first year — January to March and then September to December,” said Wanda Kowalczyk, vice president, product development for Uniworld. She calls the vessel the most luxurious ship on the Ganges.
Land and cruise packages will allow guests to see well-known sights in India both along the river and inland. Before boarding the ship, guests will spend five nights in five-star hotels: two nights in New Delhi at The Oberoi, one night in Agra at The Oberoi Amarvilas and two nights in Jaipur at the ITC Rajputana.
Then, passengers will set sail on a seven-night, roundtrip cruise from Kolkata (Calcutta), visiting such sights as Bandel and the Victoria Memorial Museum; Kalna, Bengal’s shrine complex of terracotta temples; and the 18th century temples of Baranagar. Other sightseeing highlights include Khushbagh’s beautifully preserved mosque complex, the Greek-style Hazarduari Palace at Murshidabad and the former French Governor’s residence and Sacred Heart Church of Chandannagar.
Uniworld also will offer a two-night post-cruise Varanasi (Benares) extension, which will include a sunset cruise on the Ganges to witness the Aarti Ceremony at the sacred Dasaswamedh Ghat. The ceremony has many components, from the blowing of a conch shell and the burning of incense to chanting and ringing of cymbals. At sunrise, there is another cruise to see the morning rituals along the nearly 100 ghats (broad sets of stairs leading to the Mother Ganga) in Varanasi, which is the holiest of the seven sacred cities of India and one of world's oldest inhabited spaces.