Pandaw Cruises has announced it will be pulling its Ganges cruises this year following to many ‘navigational and security challenges’. Last season the operator ran 10 two-week cruises on an 800-mile stretch of the Ganges between Varanasi and Calcutta but has called them a ‘disaster’ after crew were not trained properly and the river proved unpredictable. At times the river levels were too low, too high or too fast to operate on and there were frequent damages to the engines and propellers that could not get repaired. Also, the close presence of Maoist revolutionaries meant heavily-armed special forces had to be aboard, putting guests on edge. Furthermore, Pandew’s crew could not operate the vessel as those who were meant to train locals were expelled from India under immigration laws. The crew then provided by an Indian partner were untrained, inexperienced and Pandaw said it had “grave concerns as to their ability to respond in the event of a fire or other disaster on board”. “You win some, you loose some. Pandaw has grown enormously over fifteen years and this is the first challenge that went wrong. We lost a lot of money in India but we learnt a lot of lessons. The amazing thing is that all who travelled with us there, despite the hardships, were supportive and understanding. It helps that 90% of them were old passengers who know us,” said Pandew Founder Paul Strachan. Pandew plans to move the vessel to the Mekong, where it hopes to open two new routes next year.