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India River Cruises 2024/2025

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India Travel Guide

Embark on a river cruise in India and prepare to be captivated by a blend of rich history, diverse cultures, and breathtaking landscapes. India's rivers are more than just waterways; they are lifelines that have shaped the civilization and culture of this vast country. From the holy Ganges in the north, with its spiritual significance and ghats teeming with life, to the serene backwaters of Kerala in the south, with their lush greenery and tranquil waters, each river tells a story. These cruises offer a unique perspective on India's heritage. As you drift along, you'll encounter ancient temples, vibrant cities, and hidden villages, each offering a glimpse into the country's soul. You'll also experience India's diverse wildlife, including opportunities to spot exotic birds and maybe even the elusive Bengal tiger along the Sundarbans. Whether it's exploring the spiritual heart of Varanasi, witnessing the bustling life along the Brahmaputra, or relaxing in the peaceful backwaters of Kerala, an Indian river cruise offers an unparalleled journey through some of the most captivating and culturally rich regions of the world. Get ready to be immersed in a tapestry of colors, flavors, and sounds that is quintessentially India. With river cruise volume buys plus our low everyday prices you can save up to 50% versus the brochure price! Book your India river cruise today with AffordableTours.com, your discounted river cruise headquarters.

India Travel Guide
Showing 1 - 22 River Cruises

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Showing 1 - 22 River Cruises

Sail Date Operator Ship Departs Returns Length Price
Sep 16, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,399
Sep 26, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,399
Oct 04, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$5,699
Oct 21, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$8,399
Oct 31, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$7,699
Nov 16, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$8,399
Nov 25, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$7,699
Nov 30, 2024UniworldGanges Voyager IIKolkataNew Delhi16$22,999
Jan 04, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,299
Jan 13, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Jan 23, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Jan 31, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Feb 08, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Mar 15, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Sep 22, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,299
Oct 02, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Oct 18, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Oct 27, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Nov 06, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Nov 14, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Nov 22, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929
Dec 01, 2025UniworldGanges Voyager IINew DelhiKolkata13$6,929

India Travel Guide

India River Cruises Highlights

  • Kolkata, West Bengal: Kolkata, the starting point for many Ganges river cruises, is a city of historical significance and vibrant culture. Known as the 'City of Joy,' it offers a mix of colonial architecture, art galleries, and bustling markets. Don't miss the iconic Howrah Bridge and the Victoria Memorial. The port provides easy access to the city's major attractions.
  • The Ghats of Varanasi: These steps leading to the Ganges are the heart of spiritual India. Witness the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti ceremony, a spiritual ritual performed at dusk, and experience the essence of Indian traditions.
  • Kaziranga National Park near Guwahati: A UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. A safari here offers glimpses of diverse wildlife in their natural habitat.  
  • Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh: Varanasi, one of the world's oldest living cities, is a key stop along the Ganges. This spiritual city is known for its ghats (riverfront steps), ancient temples, and ritualistic Ganga Aarti. The port here gives you direct access to the city's rich cultural tapestry and a chance to witness the timeless rituals along the river.
  • Victoria Memorial, Kolkata: An iconic structure that epitomizes Kolkata's colonial past. Its majestic architecture and sprawling gardens provide a window into the city's history.
  • Guwahati, Assam: For cruises on the Brahmaputra, Guwahati serves as a significant port. It's a gateway to the northeastern states and is close to wildlife reserves like Kaziranga National Park, famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. The port allows for expeditions into these natural havens, offering a blend of urban and wilderness experiences.
  • Sundarbans Mangrove Forest: Explore the largest mangrove forest in the world, a unique ecosystem that's also home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
  • Kochi, Kerala: A starting point for backwater cruises, Kochi is a blend of history and natural beauty. The port is near attractions like the Chinese fishing nets, Fort Kochi, and spice markets. It's also the gateway to the serene backwaters of Kerala, a network of lagoons and canals.
  • Kochi's Chinese Fishing Nets: These iconic nets, set against the backdrop of the Arabian Sea, are a photographer's delight and reflect the unique cultural fusion of Kochi.
  • Rajbari Temples, Kolkata: These temples in Bishnupur are renowned for their terracotta architecture and intricate artwork, showcasing Bengal's rich cultural heritage.

India River Cruises Travel Tips

  • Pack breathable clothing is ideal for the warm climate, but it's also important to carry a few conservative outfits for visiting temples and other religious sites.
  • The local currency is the Indian Rupee, and while credit cards are accepted in cities, having cash is essential for smaller towns and local markets.
  • Don't forget essentials like sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against the sun. A refillable water bottle, insect repellent, and a basic first-aid kit are also handy.
  • Wear closed-toed footwear, as you will be traveling through villages, where the terrain is not always even or free of debris.
  • Remember – you normally will have to remove your shoes when visiting a temple. Sometimes you will have to remove your socks as well.
  • Carry a camera or smartphone for capturing memories, but remember to ask permission before photographing people. A power adapter for charging your devices is crucial.

India River Cruises Things To Do

  • New Delhi
    New Delhi

    River cruise lines with longer river cruise itineraries normally start in New Delhi. While some people think New Delhi and Delhi are the same places, they are wrong. New Delhi is the capital of India while Delhi describes the surrounding area. Indeed, a visit to New Deli gives you a seamless blend of the ancient and the new, with temples, landmarks, and palaces providing revelations about the city's culture and past.


    You Should Know

    The Mughal landmark, the Qutub Minar, is the world's tallest brick structure at 73 meters or 240 feet tall. With respect to population, New Delhi is only second in size to the world's most populated city, Tokyo. The city regularly experiences earthquakes and tremors. On average, about one-third of the quakes will rank higher than 2.5 on the Richter scale. The city features the Lotus Temple – the only one of its kind representing the Bhai faith. However, people of all faiths can visit the temple.
  • Agra and the Taj Mahal
    Agra and the Taj Mahal

    Known as the home for the Taj Mahal, Agra, India lies south of the India capital of New Deli. The 17th century Taj Mahal was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 and is frequently regarded as the best example of Mughal architectural design.

    Best Time To Visit

    To avoid crowds and enjoy better temperatures, it is best to see the attraction in February. 


    You Should Know

    The Mughal ruler, Shah Jahan, built the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal in the mid-1600s. In the Arabic language, the Taj Mahal means "crown of palaces."The Taj Mahal is considered a treasure of Islamic artistic design, although India is primarily Hindu.
  • Jaipur

    The capital of Rajasthan state, Jaipur still evokes a royal feel with its Pink City, which references Jaipur's palace complex – a pink colonnaded structure that features courtyards, gardens, and museums. Part of the building is still used as a royal residence.

    Best Time To Visit

    Schedule a trip to Jaipur in February when the temperatures and weather are milder.


    You Should Know

    Under the reign of Sawai Ram Singh, Jaipur gained its reputation as the "Pink City." The ruler ordered Jaipur to be painted pink to welcome Edward, Prince of Wales. The color is still preserved today, giving the city its pink claim to fame. Built by Maharaja Sawai Singh, Hawa Mahal allowed royal ladies to watch daily life in the street below without being seen.
  • Kolkata

    Originally known as Calcutta, Kolkata was considered the epicenter of the British Empire for hundreds of years. Today, the visages of Kolkata's colonial past are seen in the city's buildings and the massive Victoria Memorial Hall, which features a garden and museum. However, the city also has its slums – places where Mother Teresa ministered to the poor. When stopping here, a must-see attraction is Mother Teresa's former home.

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit Kolkata in February when the smog subsides and you can see more of the sights.


    You Should Know

    The Hare Krishna headquarters is based in Kolkata. Some river cruise operators feature a guided tour of the facility. Chess is a favorite game in Kolkata. In fact, it is so famous that people play the game in the middle of Gariahat Road. After work, chess enthusiasts visit the place to take their turn at playing the game.
  • Kalna

    Ambika Kalna, referred to simply as Kalna, was named for Ma Ambika, a deity. It is mainly known for its temples with terra cotta designs, which were built during the late 1700s by Maharajas of Bardhaman. While the city no longer flourishes as it once did, the temples still remind visitors of Kalna's rich history and thriving past. 

    Best Time To Visit

    Mark February on your calendar as the best time to see Kalna.


    You Should Know

    The only way to get around in town, besides walking, is by toto (a three-wheeler battery-operated vehicle) or by rickshaws. The fares are not fixed, so you need to know how to barter. The Rajbari temple complex highlights two of the 25 Kalna pinnacled temples. Nicely laid out, the complex boasts crisscrossing walking paths and nicely maintained lawns with beds of flowers and manicured hedges. One of the best examples of Kalna's terracotta temples is the Pratapeswar Temple, which can be found at the Rajbari Complex's west entry. The 1849-built religious structure displays a facade of terracotta embellishments. A side trip to see Muslim weaving in Kalna is featured on some India river cruise itineraries.
  • Matiari

    The town of Matiari sits along the Hooghly River, which is a branch of the Ganges River. Kolkata craftspeople, who specialized in brass-work, founded Matiari about a century ago. Local vendors display metal souvenirs, such as copper and brass bangles, and statues depicting Hindu gods. 

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit Matiari in February, when the weather is milder and clearer.


    You Should Know

    The city is referred to as the "Brass Working Village" by residents. When it first was settled, the village's elders applied their brass-making craft, learned in Calcutta factories, to support their families. If you love history, add the Krishna Rai Jeu Temple to your trip's itinerary. The religious building sits a small distance from the center of town.
  • Murshidabad

    Located in West Bengal, Murshidabad district and town lies on the Ganges River's left bank. Famous for producing silk, Murshidabad was made the Bengal capital in 1717 until the British shifted the location to the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1773.

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit Murshidabad in February when the area has not yet been hit with increased humidity. Temperatures normally range from 68 degrees to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.


    You Should Know

    Some river cruise-goers opt to visit the Katra Mosque by horse-drawn cart. The mosque was built in 1724 by local Muslim rulers. The Hazarduari Palace, built in the 1800s, features 1,000 doors, most of which are fake. Tuk-tuk rides can be taken to the center of Murshidabad to shop for textiles.
  • Varanasi

    Varanasi sits next to the Ganges city and is often featured on India river cruises because of its religious significance.  The Hindu people believe that if they die in this holy city that they will instantly receive enlightenment.

    Best Time To Visit

    The best time to see Varanasi is during February when the temperature and level of humidity is comfortable.


    You Should Know

    Hindu pilgrims bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges at the site as well as perform last rites. The city features 2,000+ temples, including the famed Golden Temple, which has been dedicated to the Hindu deity, Shiva.
  • Ghats

    A series of steps that lead you down into the water, they are used for a series of things. You can find that those bathing in the water use them, as well as rituals for funerals. You can come and see these holy steps for yourself and even go down them if you wish. There are many different ones at different points in the river, so depending on where you are, you might see one or another.  

    Best Time To Visit

    The weather should be mild, not raining, and comfortable for you to spend some time outside in. The Ghats are located in the water and you do have to be outside in order to see them or use them.  


    You Should Know

    You do not need to go into the murky water if you are not comfortable doing so. You can just watch the locals use the Ghats. There is no charge to go to these or see them, or even use them.
  • Yoga

    Yoga is a beautiful thing to do, and something that can keep you in great shape. There are many shops and places that will not only teach you yoga but also provide you with meditation techniques and more. You can practice right to the side of the river, as well. Yoga is a big part of the Hinduism religion.   

    Best Time To Visit

    There is no right or wrong time to practice yoga, so make sure to make the most of the time you spend doing it. Of course, if you're going to be doing this outside then make sure it is nice out.  


    You Should Know

    You can speak with the teachers a bit more and do a one-time class while you are there. Some yoga places will recommend great places to grab food or hike through the lush gardens.
  • Allahabad

    A much different town from Varanasi, Allahabad is an industrial town that is viewed by many as a working area. There are no monuments or temples, but there are a lot of places where you can learn more about the history of the area and the country. You can speak with the locals and learn more about the area from the shops and places.   

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit this city when it is nice out so you can walk through the streets. You can enjoy the weather, the shops, and more during this time.   


    You Should Know

    There is a festival that is held once every three years to provide thanks to the gods and bathe in the rivers.
  • Gangotri

    As an isolated pilgrimage site, it is one that is definitely a bit different. There is a temple located here dedicated to the goddess Gange. If you are in this city then make sure to stop by the Bhagirathi gorge. This is a great place to see the waterfalls and inside the caves.   

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit the attraction when it is warm out and comfortable. You can walk through the many natural attractions and enjoy the nature around you.  


    You Should Know

    Be respectful when you are here, since a lot of the areas are protected and mean a lot to those in the area.

India River Cruise Packages

  • Getting There

    Starting your India river cruise adventure is simple and exciting. India's major rivers, like the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, are accessible from key cities that are well-connected by air, road, and rail. For the Ganges, cruises often start from Kolkata or Varanasi. Kolkata, with its international airport, is a convenient entry point. Varanasi, a major cultural hub, is also easily reachable by air from major Indian cities.

    For the southern backwaters in Kerala, Kochi is the main gateway. Kochi International Airport is well-connected to major cities across India and abroad, making it a hassle-free starting point for your cruise.

    Cruise ships dock at established ports in these cities, where you can easily board. These ports serve as the perfect launch pads for your journey into the heart and soul of India via its majestic rivers.

  • The Perfect Time for an India River Cruise

    Selecting the appropriate time for an India river cruise is essential to ensure a memorable and comfortable journey. India's varied climate means that the best time for river cruising generally falls between October and April. During these months, the weather is cooler and more conducive to exploring the rich cultural and natural landscapes that Indian rivers such as the Ganges and Brahmaputra have to offer. This period allows for comfortable sightseeing and enjoyment of the scenic beauty from the river.

    However, the monsoon season in India, which lasts from June to September, is less suitable for river cruising. The heavy rains during this time lead to high river water levels and can result in unpredictable cruising conditions. Some regions may become less accessible, affecting the river cruising experience.

    The winter months, from November to February, are particularly favorable for river cruising in India. This season is characterized by minimal rainfall and mild temperatures, creating perfect conditions for cruising along India's rivers. The clear skies and pleasant weather during this time enhance sightseeing and on-deck relaxation.

    For those seeking a quieter river cruising experience with fewer tourists, the shoulder seasons of early October or late April are great options. Although the weather may be slightly warmer during these months, the benefit of fewer tourists and a more serene atmosphere can significantly enhance the river cruising experience. Regardless of the chosen time, an India river cruise offers a unique and enriching way to explore the country's diverse and vibrant landscapes and cultures.

  • Immerse Yourself in Indian Culture

    A river cruise in India offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the country's rich cultural tapestry. Indian culture is a vibrant blend of traditions, customs, and festivals. Each region along the river has its own unique cultural identity, reflected in its music, dance, attire, and rituals.

    Festivals play a significant role in Indian culture, and experiencing one during your cruise can be a highlight. For instance, witnessing the grandeur of Diwali, the festival of lights, or Holi, the festival of colors, offers a glimpse into the heart of Indian celebrations, marked by vibrancy and joy.

    The traditional art forms, like classical dances or folk music performances, often showcased during the cruise, are not to be missed. These performances are a window into India's historical and artistic legacy.

    Moreover, interactions with local communities provide insights into daily life and customs, offering a deeper understanding of the diverse cultural fabric of India. A river cruise here is more than just a journey; it's an exploration of a culture that's as rich and varied as the landscape it flows through.

  • Experience the Flavors of India on a River Cruise

    A river cruise in India is not just a journey through its waterways but also an exploration of its rich culinary landscape. Indian cuisine is as diverse as its culture, offering an array of flavors that vary from region to region.

    On a Ganges cruise, you'll have the opportunity to taste Bengali cuisine known for its subtle flavors and emphasis on fish and rice. Don't miss trying 'Shorshe Ilish' (hilsa fish in mustard sauce) and 'Mishti Doi' (sweet yogurt).

    Cruising through Kerala's backwaters, you'll be introduced to South Indian cuisine, where coconut and seafood play a significant role. Enjoy dishes like 'Meen Curry' (fish curry) and 'Appam' (rice pancakes) for a true taste of Kerala.

    In the northern regions along the Brahmaputra, the cuisine includes more meat and wheat-based dishes. 'Momo' (Tibetan-style dumplings) and 'Thukpa' (noodle soup) are must-tries.

    Many river cruises offer onboard meals that showcase local cuisines, giving you a taste of the region's specialties as you travel. For a more immersive experience, look for cruises that include local market visits or cooking demonstrations.

    Remember, Indian food can be spicy, so let your servers know your preference. With every meal, you're not just eating; you're experiencing the diverse culinary heritage of India, making your river cruise a truly flavorful journey.

  • Why Book a River Cruise to India?

    Booking a river cruise to India is an excellent way to experience this vast country's diverse and vibrant culture. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the unique perspective it offers. Gliding along India's majestic rivers, you get to see the country from a different vantage point, offering views and experiences you can't get on land. Whether it's the spiritual ghats of Varanasi, the lush greenery of Kerala's backwaters, or the wildlife-rich banks of the Brahmaputra, a river cruise brings you closer to the heart of India.

    Another benefit is the convenience and comfort. You unpack once, and your floating hotel takes you from one fascinating destination to another, all while you enjoy the comfort and amenities onboard. This makes exploring various regions of India hassle-free and relaxing.

    Moreover, river cruises often include exclusive excursions and activities that aren't easily accessible to regular tourists. This could mean private guided tours of historical sites, special cultural performances, or intimate interactions with local communities.

    Additionally, river cruises in India offer great value for money. Your fare typically includes accommodation, meals, and guided tours, making it a cost-effective way to see and experience a lot without the added stress of planning every detail.

    An Indian river cruise is not just a trip; it's a culturally rich, convenient, and unique way to explore the many facets of this incredible country. Whether you're drawn to the spiritual, natural, or cultural aspects of India, a river cruise offers an enriching and unforgettable experience.

  • Ready to Book Your India River Cruise?

    If you're considering a unique and memorable travel experience, an India river cruise is an excellent choice. Imagine gliding along historic waterways, each bend in the river revealing a new facet of India's rich heritage and breathtaking landscapes. From the spiritual ghats of Varanasi to the lush greenery of Kerala's backwaters, these cruises offer a diverse palette of experiences.

    Onboard, you'll enjoy comfort and convenience, waking up each day to a new destination without the hassle of constant packing. Off the boat, a wealth of cultural treasures, culinary delights, and warm interactions with locals await. Whether it's witnessing the vibrant festivals, exploring ancient temples, or simply soaking in the natural beauty, a river cruise in India promises an adventure like no other.

    So, are you ready to embark on a journey that's as enriching as it is relaxing? Booking your India river cruise could be the first step towards an unforgettable exploration of this fascinating country's heart and soul.

India River Cruises Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Are India River Cruises?

    Tour operators normally offer India river cruises along the lower Ganges River in 7-day and 14-day trips. If you opt for a longer trip, some of the cities you visit will not be located along the Ganges River, but are important, if not, major attractions. These cities include New Delhi (India's capital); Agra (home of the Taj Mahal); and Jaipur. These trips then continue along the Ganges, or toward destinations, which usually are the starting points for the 7-day trips. Some of the river cruise ports include Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), Kalna, and Varanasi. People who take the 7-day journeys usually start in Kolkata and make a return trip back.

  • What is Included with a Ganges River Cruise?

    Since these cruises are all-inclusive, you can expect that the food, lodging, activities, and more are included with the cruise. This is an affordable way to visit places. There are extras that can be added on such as alcohol, excursions, and specialty items. Make sure to look into these when you are booking your cruise.

  • What’s the Best River Cruise of India River Cruises?

    The best river cruise for you will be defined by your personal interests and the time you can spend traveling. One of the premier river cruise providers that feature shorter and longer India river cruises is Avalon Waterways. Avalon features most, if not all, of the above-described destinations in its river cruise offerings.

  • How Much Do India River Cruises Cost?

    Naturally, how much you spend on one of the India river cruises featured online will depend on when you plan to travel. On average, expect to spend $3,500 (if you apply discounts) to $4,500 per person.

  • What’s the Best River Cruise for a Ganges River Cruise?

    Uniworld, Viking, and Avalon Waterways are all highly recommended to take for a Ganges River Cruise. However, which you choose depends on what you want from the cruise ship and trip. You can look into each one of them to find out which might be the best suited for your needs, but also for the budget you have aside for this specific trip.

  • What Is Included on India River Cruises?

    Typically, top India river cruises highlight itineraries that immerse travelers in the culture of local life and in a country's history. Guided tours are included as well as activities that feature local craft-making or weaving. You get Wi-Fi access during your journey on board the ship as well as free meals and snacks, including your choice of complimentary beverages.

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