After dedicating a vessel to river cruises on India's Ganges River earlier this year, Pandaw is deploying two more ships to the region and is adding new itineraries as well as a range of new pre- and post-cruise tours following what the company described has been a "tremendous response" to the initial launch of its Lower Ganges sailings.
"The reaction from our customers and industry partners has been so positive that we have decided to significantly expand our offering in India," stated Pandaw founder Paul Strachan.
In May, Pandaw announced that it would be repositioning its 60-passenger Orient Pandaw to India's Lower Ganges for seven-night cruises from Kolkata to Farraka that will debut on Dec. 23.
And now, Pandaw has decided to place two additional river cruise ships in India that will sail two new routes --the Upper Ganges all the way to Varanasi, and the Brahmaputra River.
The company will also bring its sea-going vessel, the Andaman Explorer, to the region, to sail along the Bay of Bengal's Andaman Islands.
Pandaw will be repositioning its 28-passenger Katha Pandaw to the Upper Ganges, following a refurbishment of the vessel. A 14-night cruise will sail from Kolkata to Varanasi, one of India's holiest destinations. The first departures will take place in October 2019 and will follow the path of the company's existing Lower Ganges cruise before continuing towards the Upper Ganges, calling at Bateshwarsthan, Sultanganj, Mokama, Patna, Doriganj, Buxar, Ghazipur and finally, Varanasi.
While sailing both the new Upper and Lower Ganges cruises with Pandaw, passengers have the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Mayapur, India.
The Lower Ganges includes the Danish colony of Serampore; Chandernagore, a French possession until 1950; the Imambara at Hooghly; Kalna, home to a Shiva temple made up of 108 shrines; Mayapur, the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness; Khushbagh, where the tomb of the last Nawab of Bengal is located; and Hazarduari Palace, built by an English architect in 1837. There are also explorations of rural India and quiet riverside villages.
Prices for the Upper Ganges cruise start at $4,671 per person, based on double occupancy.
Starting in October 2019, Pandaw will also offer cruises on the Brahmaputra River onboard the 60-passenger Indochina Pandaw. The destinations visited will include Sibsagar, Majuli, Auniati Satra, Bishwanath, Silghat, Kaziranga National Park and Guwahati. The sailing includes several wildlife-rich regions that offer the chance to spot tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, birds and Ganges River dolphins.
Prices for the Brahmaputra cruise start $2,601 per person, based on double occupancy.
Pandaw has offered charter sailings in India in the past, but this marks the first time that the company is bringing its own vessels in to execute the sailings.
In addition to its new India cruises, Pandaw has also introduced several pre- and post-cruise tours, including a two-night Exploring Kolkata package with a hotel stay and full-day city tour; six-night India's Golden Triangle packages that includes visits of Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan; a three- or four-night night Delhi & Taj Mahal & Kolkata extension; a six-night Ancient Kingdom Of Bhutan & Kolkata option, including a flight between Kolkata and Paro for a precruise visit to the ancient Kingdom of Bhutan; and a five- or nine-night Maharajas' Express package for a ride through India on the luxury train.
Pandaw's cruise prices include local transfers, excursions, entrance fees, guide services, all meals, local drinks (soft drinks, water, tea, spirits and beer), crew gratuities and use of cycling equipment.