River Cruises India – Top 8 Indian River Cruises For A Unique Holiday Experience

Looking for river cruises India to unwind? Well, when you think of river cruises, India may not be the country you picture. That image is rapidly changing. River cruise tourism In India tourism is on the rise.

Over 400 rivers flow through India of which 8 are considered major river systems. Many of these rivers are navigable. A cruise down these rivers is a beautiful, leisurely way for travelers to see the country’s diverse landscape and experience its rich culture.

The first river cruise in India was probably down the Mandovi River in Goa. These short cruises have been a popular way to see a side of Goa other than the beaches. The latest new river cruise in India is the cruise down the river Ganga.

While the entire cruise lasts for 51 days, travelers can board the ship for part of the journey too. Cruises requiring an overnight stay are usually inclusive of meals celebrating the local cuisine, onboard entertainment and several offshore excursions.

Read: Mumbai To Goa Cruise – Package Price, Food, Accommodation And More

Top 8 River Cruises India

Here is the top 8 river cruises India, the cost of river cruises and other details you should know.

1. The Sunderban Cruise On M.V. Paramhamsa

River cruises India
Marc Ryckaert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before the Ganges empties into the Bay of Bengal, it winds its way through the Sunderban mangroves.

A cruise down this section of the river is not a chance to relax and unwind but a unique way to explore the mangroves, catch a glimpse of the Royal Bengal tigers and sunbathing crocodiles and spot a variety of local and migratory birds.

The Vivada cruise on the M.V. Paramhamsa over the waters of the Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra rivers has a 3-day, 2-night itinerary.

It begins and ends in Kolkata. The best time for this cruise is between October and March. A similar experience is offered by the international cruise operator, Pandaw River Cruises India.

Cruisers can book themselves into luxurious double occupancy guest cabins and enjoy meals onboard prepared by experienced chefs. There are plenty of on-board entertainment options available too making this easily one of the best river cruises India.

Cruise duration3 days / 2 nights
Boarding/ Disembarkation pointVivada Jetty at Millennium Park,
13 Strand Road,
Opposite to Shipping,
Corporation of India Building,
Kolkata – 700001
Phone number9903000276/77/78,
Cost for a couple with double occupancyRs 80,000 + taxes
Cost for 1 person with single occupancyRs 60,000 + taxes
Cost for children (4-10 years)Rs 10,000 + taxes
Shore visitsBhagabatpur crocodile project
Dobanki Local fish market
Number of decks4
Number of cabins26
Activity roomsGym
Ayurvedic Massage Rooms
Steam cum Sauna
24 Hour beverage counter
Bar Lounge with 24-hour snack counter
Gift Shop
Wi-Fi24-hour Wi-Fi available in restaurant and bar lounge
PetsNot allowed

2. The Guwahati – Jorhat Cruise On MV Mahabaahu

River cruise India
Source: https://ms.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail:Jalporee_river_curise_on_Brahmaputra.jpg

In places, the mighty Brahmaputra is so wide, that it’s hard to see both banks together. The river’s path through Assam is relatively calm and considered ideal for cruising.

Aboard the MV Mahabaahu, cruisers can enjoy a relaxed 8-day/7-night journey from Guwahati to Neamati (Jorhat). The best time to visit is from October to April.

An elephant safari and a jeep safari through the Kaziranga National Park are among the cruise highlights most looked forward to. Along with the famous one-horned rhinoceros, you can spot elephants, water buffaloes, swamp deer and other animals.

Then there’s the weavers at the Bishwanath Ghat and the Mishing Village guaranteed to fascinate you. The cruise also has organized visits to temples and monuments important to Assam’s history.

While the cruise offers a range of modern amenities, it also gives guests a chance to experience the local culture. You can sip on delicious Assamese tea, feast on ethnic lunches, peep into Assamese village life, spot local birds and more.

Cruise duration8 day/ 7 night
Boarding pointGuwahati
Disembarkation pointJorhat
Cruise cost per cabinRs 3,39,570 onwards
Children & minorsFree up to 5 years
Shore visitsKamakhya Temple
Bangla Village
Kaziranga National Park
Jute Mill Tea Estate
Bishwanath Ghat
Mishing Village
Majuli Ahom monuments at Shivsagar
Number of decks5
Number of superior cabins12
Number of deluxe cabins7
Number of luxury cabins2
Number of suite cabins2
Activity roomsRestaurant
Bar & Lounge
Sun Deck
Swimming Pool

3. The Kolkata – Varanasi Cruise On MV Ganga Vilas

River cruise India
Marc Ryckaert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Flagged off as recently as January 2023, The MV Ganga Vilas is noteworthy for many reasons. It’s the first cruise ship made in India and offers the longest river cruise in India. Once it is launched from Varanasi, the ship cruises a total of 51 days through 27 river systems till it reaches Dibrugarh. The longest river cruise in India price is Rs 21,18,271 + taxes per person.

You don’t have to sign up for the entire cruise. You can join in for part of the cruise from Varanasi to Kolkata.

The Varanasi to Kolkata Downstream cruise spans 20 days / 19 nights. Enroute it stops at Ghazipur, Buxar, Patna, Simaria, Munger, Sultanganj, Bateshwarsthan, Murshidabad, Matiari and Kalna. The cruise includes organized trips to temples, museums and historical monuments at these places.

When it comes to luxury river cruises in India, this is often considered the new standard. Guests can savour Michelin-inspired cuisine paired with the choicest of wines at the onboard restaurant and enjoy a drink at the lounge bar.

There are cultural programs almost every evening, a spa to relax in, a fitness centre and a host of other amenities. Check out recent Ganges River cruises reviews to know more about how the experience.

Cruise duration20-day/ 19 night
Boarding pointVaranasi
Disembarkation pointKolkata
Phone number8527736321/ 9717126772
Cruise cost per personRs 8,20,892 onwards
Shore visitsNumerous excursions including ghats by the riverside,
Mother Teresa’s memorial home,
Murshidabad’s Palace
Chandernagore’s French colonial buildings
Number of decks3
Number of main deck suites2
Number of front main deck suites6
Number of upper deck suites4
Number of front upper deck suites6
Activity roomsGym Lounge with games and books
Restaurant Bar Spa
Wi-FiAvailable in all public spaces

4. The Bhitarkanika Cruise On MV Bhitarkanika And MV Mahanadi

River cruise India
Marc Ryckaert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

River cruises on the Ganges, India aren’t the only option for river tourism. Off the east coast of Odisha sits the Bhitarkanika National Park around the estuarine region of Brahmani – Baitarani River systems. It’s a region famed for stretches of virgin beaches, lush mangroves, estuarine crocodiles, migratory turtles and over 320 local and migratory birds.

Rightly called so, the Amazon of the East cruise takes you through the heart of this region. The 5-day/4-night cruise begins and ends at Gupti with stops at Dangamal and Habali Kathi. Along the way, guests can explore mangrove trails, birdwatch from country boats, walk along the beach and indulge in picnics. 

It’s a quiet cruise ideal for travelers looking for some R & R. You can also participate in cooking classes and educational talks or sit back and play games or read a book in the lounge.

The MV Bhitarkanika and MV Mahanadi are premium 2-suite vessels equipped with a host of modern amenities. The luxurious suite rooms are complemented by an intimate lounge and dining area and sundeck. You can book a single suite or both for a private sailing experience.

Cruise duration5 day/ 4 night
Boarding pointGupti
Disembarkation pointGupti
Phone number8527736321
Cruise cost per person (single occupancy)Rs 1,33,275 Per Single Suite
Cruise cost per person (double occupancy)Rs 89,960 Per Person Per Suite
Cruise cost Private Sailing (2 Suites)Rs 3,02,368
Shore visitsDangamal
Number of suites2

5. The Kochi – Alleppey Cruise On MV Vaikundam

River Cruise India
Source: keralatourism.org

The houseboats of Kerala offer a unique experience unlike any other. The boat itself is as unique as the palm-lined backwaters of God’s own country.

A cruise in Kerala aboard a houseboat takes you through a network of rivers, canals, lagoons and lakes between Kochi and Alleppey. Interestingly, the villages you pass on this cruise are connected only by water.

The 8-day/7-night cruise from Kochi to Alleppey allows you to explore Kerala’s natural beauty as well as handicrafts, culture and cuisine.

Along the way, the cruise stops at numerous ports including Pallippuram, Vaikom, Chenganda, Thanneermukkom, Kavalam, Kainakari, Mankompu, Champakkulam, Changankari, Thottappalli, Karumadi and Kanjippadom.

There are organized shore excursions to coir factories, temples and churches, farms and villages where guests can witness cultural performances.

MV Vaikundam is bigger than most houseboats yet retains the vessel’s traditional look. It has 9 cabins made from bamboo poles, mats and wooden panels. The upper deck has a bar lounge and dining hall as well as a sun deck and a massage area.

Cruise duration8 day/ 7 night
Boarding pointKochi
Disembarkation pointAlleppey
Cruise cost (Deluxe cabin)Rs 3,16,470 + taxes
Cruise cost (Superior cabin)Rs 2,81,750 + taxes
Shore visitsPallippuram
Kavalam Kainakari
Number of decks2
Number of Deluxe suites1
Number of Superior suites8
Spa servicesSelect services available at an additional fee
Activity roomsBar Lounge Sun deck
Wi-FiAvailable with Wi-Fi Dongle

6. The Papikondalu Cruise

River cruise India
PJeganathan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The views from a boat cruising over the Godavari through the Papi hills are considered comparable to the view of the mountains from Kashmir’s Dal Lake.

As the Godavari slowly meanders its way to the Bay of Bengal, it passes lush green slopes home to about 13% of India’s flowering plants and several animal and bird species.

The cruise is a day cruise focused on relaxation. It starts early around 7.30 am and guests are dropped back to the pier by around 8.30 pm.

Breakfast and a vegetarian lunch are provided onboard. Along the way, the boat stops at the Gandi Pochamma Temple, the Ramakrishna Muni Vatika and Veereswara Swamy Temple.

The best time to plan this cruise is between October and March.

Cruise duration12 hours
Boarding pointRajahmundry
Disembarkation pointRajahmundry
Phone number85338 12266
Cruise costRs 1,249 per person
Transportation from Rajahmundry to the pierIncluded
MealsBreakfast and lunch included
Shore visitsGandi Pochamma Temple
Ramakrishna Muni Vatika
Veereswara Swamy Temple
Safety equipmentProvided
Minimum age3 years

7. The Mandovi Cruise on MV Paradise and Paradise II

Mandovi River Cruise
© Vyacheslav Argenberg / http://www.vascoplanet.com/, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When in Goa, don’t stop at just the beaches. Make time for a cruise down the Mandovi River. This quiet river flows through Panjim. The best way to experience a cruise down this river is by spending the evening on the MV Paradise.

The evening cruise lasts for about an hour from 6 pm to 7.15 pm. As the boat floats up and down the Mandovi you can catch a glimpse of Adil Shah’s summer palace, the Reis Magos Fort, the Grand Fort Aguada and the Governor’s Palace.

The sunset on your way back to the Santa Monica Jetty is particularly picturesque. In addition to the sights along the riverbanks, the cruise also gives you an opportunity to watch Goan dance performances and live music. This cruise ship ticket price India is not inclusive of food, but snacks and drinks are available for purchase.

The dinner cruise starts after sunset at around 8.45 pm and brings you back to the pier by about 10.45 pm. While you may not get a clear view of the sights along the river, you can enjoy a delicious buffet meal along with complimentary drinks. There’s a dance floor too with a DJ playing music to bring you onto the floor.

There are many other local cruise operators in Goa. Make sure you read the River Cruise company ratings before making a booking.

Cruise duration1 hour
Boarding pointSanta Monica Jetty
Disembarkation pointSanta Monica Jetty
Phone number8888002662 / 8888278381
Sunset cruise costRs 500 per person
Sunset cruise cost for childrenFull ticket for children above 3 feet
Dinner cruise costRs 1500 per person
Dinner cruise cost for childrenRs 1200 per child (5-10 years)
MealsIncluded only in the dinner cruise.
Outside food and beveragesNot allowed
LuggageNot allowed
Shore visitsNone
Onboard entertainmentSightseeing
Live music
Folk dance performance
DJ Games
Toilets on boardYes

8. The Ekta Dinner Cruise

Mumbai To Goa Cruise

The fifth longest river in India, the Narmada flows through many states including Gujarat where you can enjoy a short cruise over the river. The Ekta cruise is a little over 1 hour long and takes guests from Shreshta Bharat Bhavan to the Statue Of Unity.

The cruise offers a stunning view of the scenic beauty flanking the Narmada River as well as the Narmada Ghat, Shoolpaneshwar Mahadev Temple, Sardar Sarovar Dam and the Statue of Unity.

There are also a number of fun activities and cultural performances hosted onboard the cruise. Dinner is a delicious vegetarian buffet spread.

Cruise duration1.5 hours
Boarding pointShreshtha Bharat Bhavan
Disembarkation pointStatue Of Unity
Phone number99798 86305
Cruise costRs 1,416 per person + taxes
Cruise cost for children (6-12 years)Rs 708 per child + taxes
Time slots09:00 am – 11:00 am
11:00 am – 01:00 pm
01:00 pm – 03:00 pm
03:00 pm – 05:00 pm
05:00 pm – 07:00 pm
MealsVegetarian buffet meal
Outside food and beveragesNot permitted
LuggageNot permitted
Shore visitsGuests with tickets for the Statue of Unity may disembark.
Onboard entertainmentDance performances.
Toilets on boardYes

FAQs on the Top River Cruises In India

Which river cruise is best in India?

Some of the best river cruises India are the Sunderban cruise on M.V. Paramhamsa, the Kolkata – Varanasi Cruise on MV Ganga Vilas and the Guwahati – Jorhat Cruise on MV Mahabaahu.

You can also check out the Bhitarkanika cruise, Kochi-Alleppey cruise, Mandovi cruise, Ekta cruise and the Papikondalu Cruise.

Which is the largest river cruise India?

The MV Ganga Vilas cruise from Varanasi to Dibrugarh is the largest river cruise in India.

How many days is a river cruise India?

A river cruise in India can be as short as a few hours and as long as 51 days.

How much does a cruises ship cost in India?

The cost of a river cruise in India starts from Rs 500 per person for the shorter cruises and goes up to around Rs 50,000 per day for the longer cruises.

Are river cruises India safe?

River cruises in India are very safe. However, before making a booking, ensure that the cruise provides certified safety equipment.


Shruti is a regular contributor to The Current India. Along with writing she enjoys traveling and discovering India's hidden cultural treasures.

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