(11:25 a.m. EDT) -- River cruise operator Pandaw will devote two additional ships to India, a country that is growing quickly as a river cruise destination.
Known for its cruises in Southeast Asia, Pandaw had already announced it would move one of its small river ships, RV Orient Pandaw, to the lower Ganges River in December 2018.
"The reaction from our customers and industry partners has been so positive that we have decided to significantly expand our offering in India," said Pandaw founder, Paul Strachan.
A second ship, RV Katha Pandaw, will sail not only the lower Ganges, but the upper Ganges as well. This segment of the river, which takes passengers all the way to the spiritual center of Varanasi, has very few vessels on it, due to navigation issues.
Katha Pandaw only holds 32 passengers. Previously deployed on the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers in Myanmar, the ship will be refurbished before it starts India itineraries in October 2019.
Pandaw is also putting its own ship, RV Indochina Pandaw, on India's Brahmaputra River in October 2019. The company has run charters on that river before, but this will mark the first time it has put its own vessel in the region. With 60 passengers, the ship is also being moved from Myanmar.
Finally, Pandaw is repositioning its small ocean ship, MY Andaman Explorer, from Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago to India's Andaman Islands in 2020. The move will follow two ten-night cruises between the island sets; until recently, the areas were closed by their respective governments and not open to cruising, the company said.
All sailings have an array of pre- and post-cruise options that range from tours of India's Golden Triangle (which includes the Taj Mahal), to a train journey on the Maharajas Express, to a visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Pandaw's move away from Myanmar, which has experienced violence and unrest in several regions this year, and into India is one that follows other river cruise lines.
--By Chris Gray Faust, Managing Editor