The Indian government has decided to launch the world's longest luxury river cruise – from Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Bangladesh – in 2023.
The 50-day cruise will set sail from Varanasi on 10 January and cover 4,000km, reports the Indian financial daily Mint.
It will pass through Kolkata and Dhaka before reaching Bogibeel in Dibrugarh district of Assam on 1 March.
Quoiting Sarbananda Sonowal, India's shipping and waterways minister, Mint wrote, "Ganga Vilas cruise will sail from Varanasi to Dibrugarh in the longest river journey of 50 days covering 27 river systems and visit over 50 tourist sites including World Heritage Sites.
"This will be the single largest river journey by a single river ship in the world and would put both India and Bangladesh on the river cruise map of the world."
He said that the development of coastal and river shipping, including cruise services, is one of the priorities of the government and that more such services would be launched to tap India's enormous potential in this area.
The Varanasi-Dibrugarh cruise is expected to be run on a PPP model with the memorandum of understanding to run the first set of cruise liners signed between the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Antara Luxury River Cruises and JM Baxi River Cruises.
The operators will decide the ticket price based on a cost-plus basis with no intervention from the Indian central government.
The cruise will cover almost 1,100km in Bangladesh before re-entering India.
This will be done via the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route, which has already opened trade and transit channels between the two countries and connects the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers.
The Ganga Vilas cruise will start its journey at Varanasi and reach Patna on day 8 passing through Buxar, Ramnagar and Ghazipur.
From Patna it will reach Kolkata on Day 20. It will set sail the next day to enter Bangladesh at Bali and remain in the neighbouring country for 15 days before entering India again and reaching Bogibeel (Dibrugarh) 31 days after starting from Kolkata.