(9:05 a.m. EST) -- Avalon Waterways will expand into India in 2019, offering cruise tours that visit the country’s Golden Triangle and sail on the Ganges River, as well as new active European itineraries and shore excursion options.
In Europe, Avalon will add the Rhone to its list of Active Discovery cruises, which already include the Rhine and Danube rivers. The Active Discovery itinerary, meant to appeal to travelers who want more immersive experiences, will include hiking or biking through Camargue Regional National Park; a Van Gogh painting workshop in Arles; an e-bike tour of Tavel; canoeing through the Gorges de l'Ardeche in Viviers and a cooking class in Lyon.
In 2019, the line's eight- and nine-day Active Discovery cruises on the three rivers will take place on suite ships (previously, the sailings were held on Avalon’s older vessels). The itineraries will also include more day sailing and time in less typical ports.
In addition, Avalon will offer a choice of three types of shore excursions on all of its itineraries in 2019. The new program, called Avalon Choice, divides excursions into Classic, Discovery and Active categories. Classic excursions will focus on "must sees" and history, while Discovery tours will focus on interests like cooking and painting. Active excursions include bike rides, hikes and canoeing.
The line is also introducing an AvalonGo app that will allow cruisers to independently explore destinations, with local cafe, restaurant and entertainment listings.
Avalon's 13-day India itineraries will begin in Delhi and also visit Agra -- home of the Taj Mahal -- as well as Jaipur. Passengers will then fly to Kolkata, where they’ll board their ship and travel north on the Hooghly, a tributary of the Ganges. The river portion of the cruise will visit small cities such as Kalna, Matiari, Murshidabad and Mayapur.
The line will charter Ganges Voyager, a 36-passenger vessel formerly used by Vantage Deluxe World Travel for its India trips. Uniworld also sails on this portion of the Ganges, as does G Adventures.
The cruises begin in February 2019 and will also run in September, October and November 2019.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor