Launched in 2014, RV Kalaw is a modern, luxury cruise vessel cunningly disguised as a colonial-era paddle steamer, complete with pillared, teak-lined promenade decks and wood and brass-lined staterooms. It normally plies Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River but twice each year chugs around the Ganges Delta for Pandaw’s special Hooghly trip.
The Kalaw holds a total of 36 berths spread over two levels. Each of its cabins has panoramic French windows that frame perfect views of the river and its banks as you sail. Don’t expect lots of mod cons: the emphasis is on space and simplicity. It’s often said that a Pandaw trip is like being on a private yacht, so the luxury is low-key rather than glitzy.
Service by the mostly Burmese crew is smiling and efficient. Meals are taken in a bistro-style, open-sided dining room: semi-buffet breakfasts and lunches, and full waiter service for supper. There’s a well-stocked library on board, but we find that gazing over the water and socializing with other travellers tend to soak up most free time on Pandaw cruises.
Brainchild of Glasgow-born entrepreneur Paul Strachan, Pandaw began life in 1995 on Burma’s Ayeyarwady River but has since expanded to offer itineraries across Indochina – and now, for the first time, India. All their cruises are onboard the company’s Retro, 1940s-style, teak-decked vessels, which are built in Scotland and provide a fabulously luxurious springboard from which to enjoy the lush, riverine scenery and sights along the Hooghly and its sibling, the Bhagirathi. This cruise is typical of their “no-two-voyages-are-ever-the-same” philosophy, taking you to places normally well off the tourist radar, yet which retain spectacular vestiges of past eras.
We are thrilled to be able to offer this trip as part of our India portfolio. Many TransIndus clients have enjoyed Pandaw cruises elsewhere in Asia and will be inspired by what the company is now offering in West Bengal.
If you enjoy a glass of wine or two with your evening meals, we recommend you book the wine package, which offers excellent value for money.