RV Kalaw Pandaw Review

Fascinating, if at times fraught, cruise through over 2000 years of history.

Review for Asia Cruise on RV Kalaw Pandaw
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2-5 Cruises • Age 70s

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Sail Date: Dec 2019

Pandaw is an excellent company and the Ganges has more to offer in the way of palaces, temples and ancient ruins than any other river in Asia. We knew that the ship would actually be run by an Indian management company but the standards were as good as other Pandaw cruises: a lovely boat, replica of the 19th century river boats of Asia, excellent Indian food, friendly and highly competent staff. They did the usual Pandaw things, including an evening party on a sandbank with blazing fire, music and dancing (at which the crew were fantastic).

The Ganges is pretty dull in itself - the land is flat so you don't see much till a village or temple comes into sight. But the excursions suited us fine, since we love temples and palaces. Highlights were Nalanda, the medieval Buddhist University, Bodhgaya, now a huge centre for Buddhist pilgrimage, and above all Varanasi, where we had dusk and dawn boat trips followed by breakfast on the roof terrace of a riverside palace, now a hotel. Marvellous! The other thing to mention is the reception we were given in small towns and villages. Children and adults were fascinated by us and eager to say hello somehow. And even in the poorest villages colour is everywhere (as well as rubbish).

As previous reviewers have said, there were problems. We had to change ship because an engine could not be repaired. And the water level fell too low, so we were stuck on a sandbank for 40 hours and then could make no progress beyond Patna because, with the low water level, pontoon bridges had been slung across the river, too low for us to pass under. This meant that our trip to Patna was a nightmare 3 hours driving though traffic, giving us just 1 hour at the Museum. And it meant we had to abandon the boat there, travelling on by road and plane, staying in (good) hotels, to reach Varanasi on time. I thought Pandaw did extremely well at finding solutions to the problems. Anyone who has travelled much in India knows these things happen, but it is true that our optimism was at times stretched. Another Indian thing was that most of us got Travellers' Diarrhoea. There's nothing new in that in India either. I'd hoped that being on the boat would protect us from that, but it didn't.

Cabin Review

Lovely wooden cabin with brass fittings. Comfortable mattress, instant hot water in the shower.

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