World's longest river cruise to set to sail from India

Vessel to travel 3,200km through five states over 51 days

The two-storey Ganga Vilas cruise ship. Picture: Indian government
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Friday flag off the world’s longest river cruise from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in northern Uttar Pradesh.

The vessel will sail for more than 3,200km over 51 days.

The two-floor Ganga Vilas ship will depart Varanasi’s Ramnagar port for the marathon journey across two major rivers, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra.

It will cross into Bangladesh before returning to India and crossing five states.

The cruise ship is 62 metres long and 12 metres wide. It has three decks and 18 luxurious suites for 36 passengers.

The vessel has its own sewage treatment plant and uses purified river water for bathing. It also has noise control technology.

It will reach Dibrugarh in north-eastern Assam via Bangladesh, sailing across 27 river systems in the two countries.

The Ganga Vilas has three decks, 18 luxurious suites plus a lavish restaurant, spa and sundeck, 40-seat restaurant and a bar.

The maiden voyage will host 32 tourists from Switzerland.

They will stop at 50 spots including world heritage sites, national parks, river banks and major cities in eastern Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.

The cruise ship has a lavish restaurant, spa and sundeck plus a 40-seat restaurant serving continental and Indian cuisine on the main deck, while the upper deck’s outdoor setting has a bar with real teak steamer chairs and coffee tables.

The cost for a suite is believed to 3.8 million rupees ($46,500).

An aerial shot of the Ganges bank in Varanasi showing boats used by tourists and devotees. The cruise will journey across the Ganges and the Brahmaputra.

It is hoped the trip will lead to more cruises in the country of 400 rivers.

“The Ganga Vilas, which is an indigenously built ship and operated by an Indian company, will be the longest river cruise in the world,” said Sarbananda Sonowal, Union minister of ports, shipping and waterways.

“The service is expected to unlock the huge untapped river cruise potential in the country.”

Updated: January 12, 2023, 11:41 AM