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Ganga Vilas Cruise: World’s longest river cruise set to sail from Varanasi to Dibrugarh in January, to cover 4000 km in 50 days

The route of Ganga Vilas Cruise ship includes three major waterways, National Water Way 1 over the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system, The Indo-Bangla Protocol Route from Kolkata to Dhubri, and National Waterway 2 over Brahmaputra

Varanasi, the holy city of Uttar Pradesh, is set to witness the launch of the world’s longest river voyage to Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh on January 10, 2023. The central government has proposed to launch the world’s longest luxury river cruise in a bid to give a boost to inland waterways development in the country. 

Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, stated that the Ganga Vilas cruise will sail from Varanasi to Dibrugarh in 50 days, covering 27 river systems and visiting over 50 tourist sites, including World Heritage Sites. The Minister went on to say that this will be the world’s largest river voyage by river ship, putting both India and Bangladesh on the global cruise map. In addition, the 50-day cruise will sail by sanctuaries such as Kaziranga National Park and the Sundarbans Delta.

Sarbanand Sonowal took to Twitter to share information about the Ganga Vilas Cruise and wrote, “The world’s longest river cruise will commence its journey in Jan next year. Ganga Vilas will set sail from sacred Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Bangladesh covering 4,000 km on the two greatest rivers of India, Ganga & Brahmaputra.”

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal released the timetable of the cruise ship during an event at Ravidas Ghat in Varanasi on Friday. The ship will start its first journey on 10th January from Varanasi and will reach Dibrugarh on March 1.

After departing from Varanasi, the cruise will arrive in Patna on the 8th day, sailing through Buxar, Ramnagar, and Ghazipur. During its 50-day journey, it will stop at over 50 architecturally important places, including world heritage sites. The route of the ship includes three major waterways, National Water Way 1 over the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system, The Indo-Bangla Protocol Route from Kolkata to Dhubri over several rivers in Bangladesh, and National Waterway 2 over Brahmaputra.

The proposed route of Ganga Vilas Cruise

After starting at Varanasi over River Ganga, the cruise will enter the Hooghly river at Farakka and reach the Sunderbans through Kolkata, sailing downstream. The cruise will navigate through various channels of the world’s largest delta of Megha river, which is formed Ganga and Brahmaputra. From Sunderbans, the cruise will start sailing upstream on the rivers included in the Indo-Bangla Protocol Route, which is mainly the Brahmaputra river and its distributaries known in various names in Bangladesh. The cruise will travel nearly 1,100 kilometres through Bangladesh before entering India again and will travel over the entire West-East length of Assam through Brahmaputra from Dhubri to Dibrugarh.

The tour’s standouts include witnessing the ancient “Ganga Aarti,” exploring the natural wonders of the world’s largest mangrove forest, visiting Mayong, India’s cradle of “black magic,” and exploring the vast cultural treasure of the world’s largest river island.

Sonowal asserted that one of the government’s top priorities is the development of coastal and river shipping, including cruise services, and that this will help India tap its potential in this territory. “In addition to promoting passenger traffic on rivers, the development of inland waterway systems would expedite trade and cargo services and attract tourists along its route.”

Minister Sonowal further informed that the cruise service will facilitate all sorts of tourists who come with varying mindsets. “Cruises are of various kinds, like luxury, expedition, etc. Tourists come with their own mindsets, some may wish to move from one point to another while others would prefer to stay throughout the journey. The service will facilitate all sorts of tourists,” he said.

Furthermore, with the amendment of the Indian Vessel Act, cruise liners will have national permits facilitating their seamless movement across states, the minister informed.

Measuring 62.5 m (length), 12.8 m (width), and 1.35 m (draft), this is the first river cruise ship built in India, according to authorities. The ship has 18 suits, along with various facilities and amenities like a restaurant, spa and sundeck.

With the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Antara Luxury River Cruises and JM Baxi River Cruises, the cruise will be the first set of cruise liners to operate on a PPP model. The cruise operators will determine the ticket price without intervention from the Centre. Antara cruises have stated that the Ganga Vilas cruise will have 18 suites and other facilities which include LED TV, smoke detectors, life vests, sprinklers, French balcony, convertible beds, a 40-seater restaurant, a spa, and sundecks.

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