New Delhi: Union minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said the launch of world’s longest river cruise with MV Ganga Vilas on January 13 in Varanasi will herald a new age of river cruise tourism for India.
The luxury cruise will be flagged–off on January 13 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and 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 the service, Sonowal said.
Sonowal said his ministry is exploring the immense wealth the rich river system has to offer.
The avenue of sustainable development via inland waterways has received a tremendous boost as efforts to augment cargo traffic as well as passenger tourism have borne fruit with encouraging results, the union minister said.
The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is a step towards unlocking the huge potential river tourism in the country has to offer.
“Our rich heritage will get further transcended in the global stage as tourists will be able to experience the spiritual, the cultural as well as the richness of the biodiversity of India,” Sonowal said.
From Kashi to Sarnath, from Majuli to Mayong, from Sunderbans to Kaziranga, the cruise packs an experience of a lifetime.
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.
The luxury vessel 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 March 1. The itinerary of MV Ganga Vilas has been curated to showcase the rich heritage of India with stoppages in spots of historical, cultural and religious importance.
From the famous “Ganga Arti” in Varanasi, the luxury ship 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.
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.
Highlighting the need to develop river cruise tourism in the country, Sarbananda Sonowal said that the development of this sector would generate employment opportunity in the hinterland.
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 the 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). Tourism activities like river rafting, camping, sightseeing, kayaking and so on are operation in many spots in the country.
The construction of 10 passengers terminals across NW2 are going on which will further bolster the prospect of river cruise.