This is my first review...I have to share this so others will not hesitate to go. Our cruise/tour actually started with 5 nights land based, first in Delhi. You are met at the airport by your Oberoi Hotel Mercedes driver. 4 of us were travelling so there were 2 cars for our us!. The Oberoi Delhi is very nice hotel, clean and the service is absolutely wonderful for our 2 night stay. This is consistent with each of the amazing Oberoi Hotels that are used on this trip. You will get a briefing and meet your Tour Manager. (ours was Vishal..fantastic and totally organized and on top of everything for the entire journey). Our land based Guide (Rishi) was excellent too! We boarded a very clean comfortable bus (there were 2 buses for our group of 27 and never felt crowded) and did a sight see around Delhi and fortunately due to a Political rally that would of had us caught up in traffic, we altered the Gandhi Tomb portion and went to the place he spent his last days. This we recommended to be in the tour in the future instead of the tomb, it is so worth while to see. Agra and the Taj Mahal were the next stop. From the Oberoi hotel, every room has a view of the Taj! It is a short golf cart ride to the main gate. You get to visit twice, once in the afternoon for sunset and then again for sunrise. Do both visits! Next was Jaipur. Here you get to view a place where they make inlaid marble items. (a bit of a tourist stop, no one purchased anything and we never felt pressure to do so). Next was a carpet stop, you get the presentation etc..prices are good. (we actually bought one after we had a super lunch around the corner.) There were lots of other stops too during our
stays in Dehli, Agra & Jaipur, this is just a taste. The next day is an early rise for the flight to Kolkata. Upon arrival we are met by our two new local guides & board a bus for our transfer to the Ganges Voyager II, the bus is ok, not as nice and smooth as the ones used for the other cities. A city tour of Kolkata gets you ready for the next leg of your journey. During the travels through India, you will see lots of areas with people living amongst garbage & animals, tough to see, and the honking is constant, (Honking is a language on the road, it will be explained and then you realize how they communicate as they drive). Once you board your ship, if you thought the land portion was crazy hectic, prepare to be swept away!!
The service on board is outstanding! The cruise itself is something you can't explain but have to experience! The stops on the Ganges starts with Kalna. This is were you start to realize how friendly the people are in the villages all along the river. They have very little in terms of possessions (comparing that of most westerners). They have a culture and way of life that works for them. The children come up to us to say hello and wave as they are so happy to see us. The smiles go on forever!
This is the first step into the incredible life along this amazing river that is used by the people every day. Each day we traveled to a different village and each time it was a new adventure. You will see how families, and their way of life, come together. The colors along the river bank are another highlight.
No one in our group suffered with any major stomach issue. A bit gassy one day by one, but didn't stop any plans. We had our vaccinations as recommended, and we all took Ducoral before arriving. There were 3 people on board who had a bit of tummy trouble, don't know if they had used anything prior to the cruise. The water on the ship is treated but we used bottled water for teeth brushing just to be sure and there is an ample supply of water. Each day when you return from the shore excursion, as you enter the ship, you remove your shoes and they clean them and return them to your door in a few minutes. On your shore excursions, the staff from the ship are always around to keep you supplied with hand sanitizers and help you with translation if you need. They are outstanding every day!
The food on board was another highlight. If you are not wanting to try the local foods, there is plenty of western style options that they will have or prepare for you. Their Indian cuisine was excellent. So much variety and flavors that you want to keep eating!
I will explain my ratings here:
This Ganges Voyager II is not Uniworld's own ship, it is used by them but is definitely the nicest one on the Ganges.
Embarkation- smooth and easy
Cabin, no issue, bathroom counter is a bit small - shower is huge, bed is comfy.
Dining - lots of variety of food, even for myself being probably too cautious.
Enrichment activities - cooking demo, talks about the way of life of the Ganges people and Saree & turban wearing demonstration, tour of the engine room, yoga twice a day, everyone had fun.
Entertainment - couple of Indian dance groups came on board, very colorful and gave you a taste of how deep their traditions are.
Small gym- not a lot of time to use it but you can fit it in if you like.
Spa has two ladies for facials & massages. My wife had 3 massages and I had one and they were excellent.
Onboard experience- above a 5 if I could give it. The crew are your friends and gracious and always there for your every need.
wifi service was good in some locations and in and out in others. Might be a few hours without but not too long as I managed ok.
Public Rooms- Lounge outside and bar area both on upper deck providing views of the Ganges left and right, just don't know which way to keep looking!
Shore excursions- you will get use to the sight of Water buffalo on the streets along with cows and pigs. The people and colors and smiles will stick with you!
Value for Money- ABSOLUTELY, this is a great way to see a little part of India. This is a luxury cruise and you get totally immersed into it all on the Ganges.
There were so many highlights on this trip, but here are some extras I wanted to add.
I mentioned this one above- All the Oberoi hotels, Ghandi's last place residence, Taj Mahal, Rickshaw ride in Kalna, Craftsman in Matiari village, having a try at Cricket in Murshidabad with the crew.
Super clean with King bed, very comfortable.