On the Ganges portion of the cruise, all shore excursions are included. Passengers are divided into three groups, randomly (and not by activity level), and stay with their local guide for the duration of the trip. Because most of the villages along the river are small, excursions generally last a half-day or less; on some days, there might be two 90-minute excursions offered. Ganges Voyager II does all of its sailing during the day so there's plenty of time for scenic cruising.
On the Golden Triangle section of the trip, shore excursions last much longer, often a full day, and can involve long coach rides. Again, passengers are separated into three groups, which means you can spread out among the buses. In Delhi, an optional half-day excursion to two of the city's UNESCO World Heritage Sites -- Humayun's Tomb and Qutub Minar -- cost $20 per person. In Jaipur, the optional excursion runs to Amer Fort and costs $55 per person.
Vox headsets are used for the entire trip.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Because the stops along the river aren't always that long, the Ganges Voyager II staff fills the free time with lectures and enrichment activities, usually at least one per day.
In the evenings, dance performances by local entertainers take place at least twice per voyage. And finally, an Indian-themed movie is shown several nights after dinner.
Ganges Voyager II has daily lectures and activities, sometimes even more than one activity, depending on how much time is spent sailing. The sari/turban tying session is great fun, and the Bollywood dance lesson allows the Indian crew to show off their moves (trust us, they are much more coordinated than you'll be). Other seminars include a lecture on the significance of the Ganges, a spice-smelling session, a tea tasting and a cooking class. On one day, there's a cricket game so passengers can learn the sport -- and the staff can again show off. Women lined up to get mehendi -- intricate henna tattoos -- done.
Local guides are also available during free time to answer any questions you might have about the Hindu religion, the prevalence of astrology, the caste system (which is still very much part of Indian life), politics and infrastructure, and India's current development; really, we found no topic off limits. The ship also has an open bridge policy and you can visit anytime.
With early morning and late afternoon excursions, and -- let's be honest here -- the well-attended cocktail hours and free-flowing wine at dinner, Ganges Voyager II shuts down early at night. Most passengers go back to their staterooms after dinner.
Lounge (Deck 4): The lounge is the beating heart of the ship, decorated in Indian fabrics, carpets and teak. It's the main venue for port talks, lectures, enrichment activities, cocktail hour, afternoon tea, late- and early-risers' breakfast or just a fabulous spot for an after-dinner drink. It contains the ship's computer stations, book and game library, as well as a coffee and tea station.
Ganges Voyager II boasts an extensive outdoor sun deck on the fourth floor, with plenty of comfy teak chairs, loungers and daybeds. It's a popular spot to sit during the day, as much of it is under shade; passengers can spend hours up here. Bar service is available outside and on some evenings, dance performances are held on the sun deck, too.
A small deck for smokers, with two lounge chairs, is provided at the back on the ship on Deck 3. Smoking is not permitted anywhere else on the ship.
Ganges Voyager II has no official "check-in" desk. There's a breezeway on Deck 2, between the cabin hallway and the dining room. That's where you are met after excursions by a phalanx of staff, bearing hand sanitizer, cool towels and fruit juice. The ship keeps track of passengers by asking them to turn in their keys when they leave, in exchange for a small plastic boarding card. Passengers on Deck 2 receive their keys back in the breezeway, while a separate butler hands out keys for those in the suites on Deck 3.
The breezeway is also the location for shoe cubbies, one for each cabin. Passengers are asked to bring their slippers down when they leave for excursions. When you return, you remove your shoes for the staff to clean them.
Within the lounge, you'll find a small library with books about India. The room also has games to lend out and two computers for passengers who have run out of their daily Wi-Fi allowances (although the internet is slow here, too).
A small boutique counter run by the company Jackfruit on the Ganga is located in the Deck 4 breezeway. The shop sells handmade scarves, tunics and other souvenirs that are directly sourced from local artisans and artisan-run organizations.
Laundry is available onboard for a fee; the top suites have at least one bag included in their fare. It arrives attractively presented, folded in a small wooden box and on hangers.
Ganges Voyager II has a spa on Deck 4. There are two treatment rooms and two spa attendants who are kept busy; if you want an appointment, go early. The spa menu is a mix of Indian and Western treatments at reasonable prices. A classic 60-minute Swedish massage is 2,500 rupees ($37); a 60-minute Abhayangam massage, which incorporates Indian oils and techniques, is 3,000 rupees ($45). Other more exotic treatments include a chakra head massage (30 minutes; 1,000 rupees, $15); foot reflexology (30 minutes; 2,500 rupees, $37); sandalwood, jasmine and orange wraps and scrubs (30 minutes; 1,500 rupees, $23) and facials (60 minutes; 2,000 rupees, $30). Manicures and pedicures, both 1,500 rupees ($23), are also available. We found the services excellent, if a little heavy on the oil.
A small fitness center adjoins the spa. The room has a treadmill, an exercise bike and an elliptical machine.
Complimentary yoga classes are offered in the mornings at 6:30 a.m. The classes are geared toward beginners, but advanced practitioners are invited to attend as well and do their practice at their own pace.
While Uniworld offers family itineraries in Europe, it doesn't on its exotic river cruises (at least not at this point). There are no facilities or programs for kids, and we'd think the program (as well as hygiene issues off the ship and lack of Wi-Fi) would be challenging for most children and teens.
* May require additional fees