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Tips for Travel to India

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TIPS ON TRAVEL to INDIA

Updated- 23 February 2012 – ST @ Property of Value World Tours@ All rights reserved

To our “Valued” Passengers! 

Welcome to one of our newest and most unusual programs – pioneering cruises to the cities, the villages, and the jungles of India on the Brahmaputra and Hooghly Rivers! We explore some of the less visited places of this vast country. This is not a traditional vacation destination.  It is an experience of a lifetime!

Introduction to INDIA

Gaining independence in 1947, India is the world’s largest democracy and the world’s 2nd most populous country.  India is set apart from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas, the highest and youngest mountain chain on earth.  The subcontinent touches three large bodies of water: the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean.  As the world’s seventh largest country, its neighbors are Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar.  Even though it spans over 2000 miles from North to South, the entire country has only one time zone.  It is a widely diverse country with 5000 years of recorded history and 18 official languages.  It is divided into 28 states and seven union territories.  With so much variety to offer, we welcome you to “Incredible India!”

The Brahmaputra River

At nearly 1800 miles long, the Brahmaputra River is one of the major rivers in Asia.  Beginning in southwestern Tibet, it flows through the Himalayas, the Assam valleys of India, and Bangladesh, before emptying into the Ganges Delta.  Meaning “Son of Brahma” in Sanskrit, it is the only “masculine” river in India. Until Indian independence in 1947, the Brahmaputra was used as a major waterway. In 2003 it was reintroduced as a transportation route by Assam Bengal Navigation.  The RV “Charaidew” and later the RV “Sukapha” have made the state of Assam accessible to travelers. Deep water channels change their course from week to week and every cruise is different.  The bird life is prolific and it is not unusual to see Ganges Dolphins in the river.  At times, the shores are jungle lined and at other times there are vast sand spits that at twilight look like snow drifts.

The Hooghly River

The Hooghly River (or sometimes seen as Hugli) runs down from the Ganges at Farakka through the heart of rural Bengal to Calcutta and on to the Bay of Bengal.  The Hooghly was the water route taken by early settlers to travel inland to the Mughal capitals of Agra and Delhi and the opium, rice and indigo warehouses of Patna.  Along the route visited are vestiges of the former ruling British as well as Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Danish trading settlements.  The narrow river twists through mango orchards, palm trees, and rice paddies.

SPECIAL Note: Your participation in sailing along the rivers of India not only helps the local economy but also spreads friendship and understanding. You virtually act as an Ambassador of the United States when visiting remote villages in this country. The impression you leave will have an everlasting effect on future relations between India and your own country.

It is therefore important that we advise and prepare you for some of the cultural and social differences you will encounter. These Travel Tips have been designed to provide useful information and helpful suggestions to ease your adjustment and help you get around any obstacles you may encounter. Your journey will be greatly enhanced if you take the time to prepare for it. Thoroughly acquaint yourself with the information provided herewith - but also talk to others who have been there or study one of the comprehensive guide books available or check the Internet!  The effort you put into planning your trip before you go will make all the difference... THANK YOU!

The cruise portion of this tour is best described as an expedition cruise.  While you will sail in comfort on a ship with all the modern amenities, there may be aspects of the cruise that are beyond anyone’s control such as delays and changes due to water conditions.  Your flexibility and understanding is requested.

GENERAL CRUISE & TRAVEL TIPS

US CITIZENS - ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:  A passport (with 6 additional month’s validity) and a Visa are required for India. If you are a holder of a foreign passport, please check with the consulate office! It is each passenger’s responsibility to make sure they have the proper documents to enter India!

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS:  Authorities may enforce strict regulations on importing or exporting items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, foreign currency, cameras and other items. You may bring in any amount of cash but anything over $5,000 must be declared. Bringing any counterfeit or pirated goods back into the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. 

VOUCHERS: If traveling within a group or on any set program, vouchers will be not be required or issued. If traveling as an individual and/or deviating from the regular itinerary, we may issue vouchers for services paid for. When included, vouchers will be listed on the check-off list sent with your final documents.

AIR TICKETS: Whenever tickets are issued by VALUE WORLD TOURS, they will be included with your final documents. In some cases, when tickets are issued directly by the airlines, they may be sent to you under separate cover. Please consult your check-off list.

DEPARTURE TAXES: At the time of printing, there were no additional departure tax for India.

BAGGAGE: Make a detailed list of everything you pack for the trip, and then leave this list at home. We cannot be responsible for lost baggage, but most airlines will make every effort to recover baggage or make proper compensation if you are able to itemize the suitcase contents. It is also a good idea to tape a piece of paper INSIDE your luggage, which shows your full name, home address and telephone number. The purchase of Travel Insurance is always strongly recommended!

BAGGAGE WEIGHT: Please remember that weight allowances vary and are lower when flying domestic and intra-continental routes, utilizing smaller aircraft. Check your airline ticket for instructions and pack accordingly or you may face over-weight baggage charges!

TRANSFERS: If you have purchased your airfare or have prepaid your arrival transfers through us, please look for our Tour Guides holding Name Signs AFTER you exit Customs.

If you have purchased land/cruise only and are arranging for your own arrival and departure transportation, the names and addresses of your hotel and the port locations will be listed on the

Contact Sheet sent with your final documents.

OUR FINAL DOCUMENTS – TRAVEL PORTFOLIOS

-FREE ELECTRONIC DELIVERY: Once final payment is received all paper documents including: day by day itinerary, travel tips, airline tickets, contacts and other related  information will be sent to your electronically via email. This service is free, provided we have your email address.

-PHYSICAL DELIVERY OF OUR PORTFOLIO OF GIFTS & PAPER DOCUMENTS:

If you do not have email OR would prefer to receive paper documents along with our set of useful, travel related items as outlined below, these items will be sent to you approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure via registered or overnight mail. The cost of this service will be listed on your invoice.

1. BAGGAGE TAGS: Will be provided with your final documents. Please use them, if you would like your luggage to take the same vacation you do! NOTE: Our luggage tags have been designed to allow you to list up to 6 points of travel (hotel to ship, ship to hotel, etc). DO NOT DISCARD THEM! Simply cross out your previous location and write in your next destination (and room or cabin number if you know it). This will help our staff and luggage handlers tremendously in delivering your luggage to you in the shortest possible time!

2. BADGES: If provided, please wear the badges at all airports, transfer points, hotels, and at any time you are embarking/disembarking the ship. Not only does your badge assist us in providing adequate security on the vessel by identifying you as a group member to our guides, staff and security personnel, it also allows you to get to know your fellow passengers sooner!

NOTE: Since people go by nicknames, our badges come blank. Please print your name the way you would like to be addressed and wear them at least for the first few days.

3. PENS & TRAVEL BAGS: Our unique pens and practical travel bags are not only “good looking” but superbly designed to hold everything from your documents to cameras to water bottles! People love them- and you will too!

4. SURPRISE GIFT: Depending on your travel destination and time of year, we may include a surprise gift, which may be a hat, an umbrella or “cool shades”….who knows, maybe even a winning lotto ticket! (but you must promise to give us a fair share if you win J)

PASSENGER MIX:

These ships are currently carrying predominately passengers from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the USA.  It is a great opportunity to meet the well-traveled people of the world and make new and long lasting friends! Whatever the mix, however, English is always the main language used.

WEATHER: Both seasons have their advantages.  

Dry season runs from November to April.  This season is cooler, especially at night.  Wet season runs from May to October. Keep in mind that even during the wet season it may only rain at night or a few hours during the day. The rivers are swollen and most navigable, and the countryside most lush and picturesque during the rainy season.

CLOTHING SUGGESTIONS:

The dress code on all of our cruises is INFORMAL!  So please - PACK LIGHTLY! Due to heat and humidity, we suggest lightweight cottons, avoiding synthetic materials as much as possible.  During the winter: “Passengers must remember that the cold wind caused by the movement of the vessel is most penetrating, and warm clothes are absolutely necessary.” – Murray’s India Handbook, c.1890. During the winter months in Assam (November to February) this remains just as true as ever, and warm clothes (in subdued colors) are also required for dawn and dusk jeep safaris in wildlife sanctuaries. The top deck is ideal for sunbathing in hot weather, but please make sure you are not visible from the shore if you are wearing no more than a bathing suit. During the wetter months a lightweight raincoat or waterproof jacket and an umbrella will be useful. 

SHOES:

Do pay particular attention to footwear - you should have a good pair of comfortable walking shoes with thick rubber soles and firm arch supports for uneven terrain. If you buy new shoes, "break them in" before the trip. These cruises involve walking during visits ashore, so you need to be comfortable! When ashore, guests should wear easily removable footwear for visiting holy sites.  Suitable footwear aboard the ship would be sneakers, deck shoes, tennis shoes and similar rubber-soled shoes. Pay attention when moving around the decks –they can be slippery!

PHYSICAL DISABILITIES:

Please note that the majority of the passenger vessels sailing the various rivers of the world (including the one featured in this program) have limited services for the physically impaired. There are no elevators, staircases are the norm. In addition, due to the small size and shallow draft, the ship often anchors at remote undeveloped ports and stops. While this ability enhances the itineraries, it also means that most of the shore excursions are done on foot. Therefore, severe walking disabilities may limit the passenger’s overall enjoyment on this program.

Regretfully, we do not recommend this cruise to severely disabled passengers, and wheelchairs cannot be brought on board at all!


 

CRUISING ON THE RIVERS OF INDIA

Your enjoyment of the trip will depend in large part on your positive attitude. Here are a few pointers that will help you prepare for your journey.  Cruising on the Indian rivers is a new and unique experience compared to any other form of travel!

General River Rules

1.     Maritime Law - As with a pilot on a plane, the Captain of a ship is the ultimate law. He is responsible for the ultimate safety and comfort of the vessel and its passengers. It is within the Captain's jurisdiction to change the sequence of stops, ports, etc. if he deems it necessary due to inclement weather conditions, high or low water levels, dock and lock schedules, technical reasons etc. The Captain has the right to remove unruly passengers, quarantine the ship in case of disease and similar. Therefore, although unlikely, certain changes in schedules may happen. Though we expect to provide sightseeing of all of the major stops and attractions listed in our cruise program, there is a possibility that the sequence of touring may be altered to take into account the operating hours at museums and monuments. Shore excursions may be changed in response to sailing conditions and other factors. Your understanding and cooperation in such instances will be 

     expected as well as appreciated!

2.     Cultural Differences - Remember that you are traveling through a country whose political, social and cultural background may be different from your own. Do not let political differences govern your perspective. Instead, travel with an open mind, and you will satisfy your curiosity

      regarding the people, their lands, their history and their culture.

3.     Service - If you receive poor service at any point, try to take it in good humor and solve it directly.

      If you have any serious complaints, take them to your guide and/or Cruise Director.

4.     Bureaucracy - Expect a little bit of red tape and try not to be bothered by bureaucratic rituals, which may be different from country to country.

5.     Do not compare things you see by American standards. The RV Charaidew and RV Sukapha were specifically designed to navigate the shallow Indian waters.  Although quite comfortable, they are small and practical and should not be compared with huge ocean faring vessels. Above all, keep your sense of humor and enjoy the cultural legacies, physical geography and rich variety of the people as you sail through this unique and different land.

A courtesy reminder: Make it your responsibility to be on time so as not to hold up the group. 

Be attentive and refrain from talking to your neighbor while the guide/s are speaking or providing information regarding the tour.  Wait for all information to be given before asking questions.  Any special requests regarding group activities should be directed to the Tour Director who is responsible for representing the interests of the whole group.  Your local guides will refer all requests back to the tour director. Your cooperation in these matters will not only be greatly appreciated but will increase both the group’s and your personal enjoyment of the tour.                                                   

Thank you

 

The RV “Sukapha” and RV “Charaidew

THE SHIPS:  The RV Charaidew was extensively rebuilt in 2003 before starting its current passenger service. The RV Sukapha was built in Calcutta in 2006 to accommodate the growing interest in river cruising in Assam.  Both ship have gone through technical updates and upgrades in 2009 and 2010 respectively. With a shallow draft, they are able to maneuver in high or low water conditions.   An intimate group of 24 passengers (or less) will be on each expedition voyage. All cabins are air-conditioned with private bathrooms and face out to the river providing excellent views of the passing landscape. 

PUBLIC AREAS:  Both ships offer a large air-conditioned dining room and saloon/bar on the Main Deck. On the Sun Deck are comfortable loungers and chairs in both sun and shade which afford the best views of the river life around.  

THE SHIP’S TEAM AND CREW:

Once on board you will be looked after by the Cruise Manager and your Guide. The Manager will do his best to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible on board as well as arranging on-shore expeditions, daily briefings and other logistical matters. Both the staff and the crew are here to ensure that you are as well looked after as possible within the limitations of a small ship making pioneering journeys. Please remember that these are the first operations of this kind in India. Assam is a virtually tourist-free state – try for instance buying a picture postcard in Guwahati! J

THE ITINERARY/DAILY SCHEDULE:

You will already have a general itinerary listing the main stops of your river journey. However much depends on river conditions and other local factors, so a Daily Schedule will be posted each day – hopefully the night before. Guests are asked to remain patient and flexible. The crew will do their best to devise as interesting and exciting programs as possible but, being in the nature of an expedition cruise and subject to the vagaries of the river, it is not always possible to follow itineraries to the letter. Please keep an eye on the Daily Schedule as in India all is subject to sudden and unexpected changes! Just enjoy the adventure and go with the flow!

MAKING THE MOST OF THE DAYLIGHT:

India is a vast country with just a single time zone, geared to suit Delhi and Bombay. In Assam, in the winter months, dawn comes around 6AM and dusk falls by 5PM. Since we can only cruise and sightsee during daylight hours, our schedules are geared to this rather than to “conventional” hours. So if you find yourself getting up at 6AM, remember you will probably be dining at 6.30PM and asleep in bed by 9PM.  Interestingly India is ½ hour off the neighboring time zones.

DAILY BRIEFING:

These will be held in the saloon/bar most evenings on board. This is an opportunity to discuss events and places visited and the cruise’s plans for the next day.

RIVER CONDITIONS:

On the Brahmaputra conditions vary depending on the season. In the “cold” period (November-February) the water level of the river will be quite low and in places will have dropped by more than 20 feet. Though the river bed is miles wide, channels change frequently and can be narrow and hard to follow, even for the pilot we have on board. There is thus some risk of running aground on submerged sand banks and our captain has to take extreme care. For this reason it is too risky to run at night and we tend to moor up or put to anchor from nightfall till just before first light (about 5AM). Schedules can also be changed when early morning mist on the river is slow to clear.

River conditions on the Hooghly River are much less variable, since the volume of water in the river is controlled by the Farakka Barrage. Night navigation is possible.

MEDICAL:

The vessel carries first aid equipment and a few basic medicines. Local doctors in rural Assam and W. Bengal speak English and are used to dealing with such things as broken limbs and intestinal problems, but do not have vast resources at their disposal. There are now modern private hospitals in Guwahati and other Indian cities but upcountry hospitals can be poorly equipped. We therefore strongly recommend medical insurance for all travelers.

GENERAL SHIP’S SAFETY:

Please be especially careful on board the ship as by the nature of its design there are many things to trip on and surfaces can be slippery. Please bear in mind that you are on a ship not a hotel – watch the ledges in doorways and take extra care when moving around and using stairs.

GANGWAYS AND GOING ASHORE:

Quays and landing stages are virtually non-existent, and access to the bank will always be across sand or soil banks, and may occasionally be a little difficult. Your crew will ensure the gangways are safe and that they are on hand to assist you. Sometimes a country boat (tender) may be used in order to take you to inaccessible landing places – when using this boat please wear your lifejackets.

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES:

Life jackets are to be found in your cabin. In the event of an emergency the ship’s siren will sound continuously. If in or close to your cabin, collect your life jacket. Proceed to the Upper Deck – Main Stair and await instructions.

SECURITY:

There is a safe in the Cruise Manager’s office where valuables may be left in a security bag. Please keep your cabin locked when not in use and also at night. A watch is kept on the gangplank but we cannot be held liable in the event of an item’s loss. Assam is relatively crime free and as yet tourists are rarely targets for theft. However it is always best to play safe. Calcutta is safer than many other great cities, but it makes sense to be on your guard for petty thieving.

Assam had a serious insurgency problem in the 1980s and early 1990s. Political initiatives have largely removed the problem in the areas you will be visiting, but you will still notice continuing heightened security ashore in terms of occasional police checks, sandbagged guard posts etc.

COMMUNICATIONS AND MOBILE PHONES:

There is mobile phone coverage throughout Assam, but the service provider BSNL does not have roaming agreements with any overseas networks. The use of satellite phones and short wave radio transmitters is not permitted by the security forces. Some international roaming cards will work in Calcutta.

SMOKING:

Please do not smoke inside your cabin or inside the public areas, as smoke detectors are fitted. You are permitted to smoke on the sun deck and balcony outside of the saloon.

HAIR DRYERS:

Can be borrowed from the cruise manager.

ELECTRIC POWER:

Bathrooms have 220v, 2 round pin international razor sockets. Cabins have sockets for 15 amp 3 round pin plugs. Adapters sold as suitable for use in South Africa will fit these. Bring them with you!

ENTERTAINMENT:

The ship has a small library with novels and books mostly relating to India. Please do not take away with you books from the library which carry an Assam Bengal ex-libris stamp. A CD player with a small selection of CDs, mostly classical, is fitted in the saloon, and cards, chess, Scrabble and Monopoly are available. We recommend the exchange principal.  Bring your own novels and magazines and exchange it for a new one on board.

SPA:

On the “Sukapha”, you will find a small spa on the main deck offering a number of different massages and facials, some ayurvedic, for both sexes. A tariff card will be found in your cabin. Please note that this spa is operated by the spa company independently of Assam Bengal Navigation, who cannot be held responsible for any claims or complaints relating to the spa treatments.

GOING ASHORE:

When moored and if you are not joining an excursion you are welcome to come and go from the ship as you please, but please advise the Cruise Manager of your plans. The next sailing time will be advised on the Daily Schedule, and passengers are requested to take note of this before disembarkation.

AIR CONDITIONERS:

Each cabin has its own air conditioner that can be set to your own preference. Some people are prone to sore throats and even colds after being out in the heat and entering an excessively cooled air-conditioned environment. We find the best solution is to keep the machine on all the time during the day, setting the thermostat to low. That ensures a good circulation of air without becoming chilly. In the early hours of the morning Assam can be quite cold, and hot water bottles are available on request from the Cruise

Manager. All cabin windows are fitted with gauze screens so it is feasible to switch off the air conditioner at night when the outside temperature permits - for most of the season we turn off the generators around midnight to lower the noise level (there is standby battery lighting in the cabins).  There is an extractor fan in the bathroom – for safety reasons please do NOT use this while showering, but turn it on after use only.

MOSQUITO PRECAUTIONS:

There has rarely been a problem on board as the Brahmaputra is a fast-moving river and mosquitoes prefer stagnant water. But just in case, please close external doors and the screen windows. If on deck at night or going ashore by day, make sure to rub ankles and other exposed parts with insect repellent, particularly when visiting wildlife sanctuaries. Switch off lights when leaving your cabin so as not to attract insects. Mosquitoes love damp spots, so it helps to keep your shower room bolted shut with the light off when not in use. Mosquito nets are available on request. Assam is a malarial area, and many wildlife sanctuaries are swampy, so you should consult your doctor about suitable prophylactics before you travel - the advice for Assam (Brahmaputra River) is the same as for S.E. Asia, NOT the same as for the Hooghly River and other areas of India.

WATER AND TOWELS:

The ship’s water supply comes from the river after passing through a filtration plant. This water is suitable for washing but should not be drunk. You will need to run the water for a long time in order to get hot water if you are in a cabin towards the stern – please persevere.

Bottled water is provided free for drinking. To save water, towels will be changed every 2nd day, bedding twice during the sailing.

LAUNDRY:

Is collected each morning when your room is made up and will be returned to you by the following day. Please leave items in the bags provided and mark up the list. The charges will go on your bill. Our ever zealous “dhobi” has a tendency to iron absolutely everything. If there is an item that you do not wish ironed, please advise the staff.

POST CARDS, STAMPS AND SHOPPING:

A supply of postcards and stamps is available on board. Opportunities to buy postcards ashore are very limited. Cards may be handed in at the bar for posting. A limited choice of films, batteries, toothpaste etc may be purchased from the Cruise Manager.

THE BAR AND WINE LIST:

You will be asked to sign for all items ordered and you will be presented with your bar bill on the last day aboard. Regretfully, the ship cannot accept credit cards. You can pay your bill in cash in US Dollars or Rupees.

FOOD SAFETY AND HYGIENE:

Purified water is used for cooking and food preparation on board. Please avoid eating at roadside stalls, alluring as they can be. Off the vessel, never accept ice in drinks. Avoid ice creams, crushed sugar cane, salads and the skins of fruits. Common sense is the best prophylactic against dysentery.

ALMS AND DONATIONS:

We ask you not to give money to children. Assam and rural W. Bengal have little experience of tourism and already in certain places the children have been quickly spoilt. Ball point pens, picture postcards of foreign places and other such small items are preferable. However in the most untouched villages we would ask you to give nothing at all to individual children, but to talk to the guide about giving a single donation to the village headman or school. Beggars are not common in country districts in Assam or W. Bengal, but where encountered, as in downtown Calcutta, please consider an eventual donation to a charity rather than giving directly to a beggar.

HEALTH/VACCINATION:   No inoculations are required, but you may want to discuss your visit to India with your personal physician. He/she may recommend certain precautions for you.  All senior staff is trained in First Aid. In case of emergencies, local medical stations are within reasonable reach on land along the river route.

CURRENCIES & FORMS OF PAYMENT:

The Indian currency is the Rupee.  At the time of printing, roughly 1 USD = 49.51 rupees

Larger stores will take credit cards.  However for Assam you will need rupees. 

VERY IMPORTANT:  exchange some cash at the airport or hotel as you may not get another chance because ATM machines may not work for US cards and exchanging cash or travelers checks at banks “takes hours” according to our guide.  Passengers need to at least have rupees for National Park camera fees (Rs. 500 per day for still camera or Rs. 1000 for video camera), local tipping, and small purchases in Assam.

ON THE SHIP:

The onboard currency is the US Dollar or Rupee. All your onboard expenses are billed to your account, which is settled the day prior to disembarkation.

You must pay this in cash! No Credit cards or checks are accepted! 

SHOPPING: Hand woven shawls and scarves are the main items found in the Assam villages. Assam is also known for its tea production. In larger towns, private shops may have fixed prices, but in the market place or with local villagers bargaining is expected!!!   Whenever you make purchases, please note that the majority of items are handmade and may contain imperfections natural in goods that have not been mass-produced.  It is worth taking a little time to check each item that you wish to buy in order to avoid disappointment. We regret that neither we or the shipping company, or local representatives can be held responsible for problems relating to purchases you may have made while abroad.

       

GRATUITIES:

Tipping today has become commonplace in all countries of the world. Due to the nature of these new economies, salaries for regular folk are pitiful compared to the rising costs and inflation in their countries - let alone if we compare them to western standards.  Consequently, for the majority of the people working in the service industries (hotels, restaurants, travel), tips and gratuities have become a large source of their income. Therefore, your gracious generosity will be appreciated throughout your trip. However, unlike in many places in the west including the United States - where tips are either tacked on to your bill or demanded (regardless of the quality of service), tips in the "east" are still left to your discretion!  Therefore, no service - no tip! The choice is still yours. Nevertheless, since we repeatedly get asked to provide guidelines - here they are.

TIPPING SUGGESTIONS:  Tips should be divided in 2 separate segments:

1) Individual tips: To staff/personnel who have earned your gratitude (Local Guides, bus drivers,  specific waiters at hotels, or other ground personnel that have gone beyond the call of duty to help you). These should be provided directly to each individual service provider.

2) Pooled tips: For a group of individuals working as a team to service you on a specific portion of a trip (such as the ship’s crew).

 

1) INDIVIDUAL TIPPING: During the land portion of your trip, local guides and drivers will escort the local tours. The so-called standard tip should be $2 per person for the guide and $1 for the driver. A $1 tip will also be appreciated by porters. A $1 per person/per day should be left at hotels for your maids. For taxi cabs or at restaurants add 10 to 15% to your final bill amount. For the cruise portion, we suggest Rs. 150-200 per person for national park safari jeep drivers/spotters, Rs. 50 per person for elephant mahouts, and Rs. 50 per person for rickshaw drivers.

2) POOLED TIPPING (CREW ON SHIP): For the ship crew we implement a Pooled System whereby all the crew members, from the Captain to the "lowly" deck hand share in the gratuities collected from all passengers. The on board Tour Guide and shore excursion drivers are included in this pooled tip as well.  The reason for doing this is that during the course of your cruise, you will actually see and meet only about 1/2 of the crew - mainly your guide, your driver, the restaurant and bar staff and maybe your cabin maid. However, there are many more crew members you will not see whose good work is equally important to the smooth operation of the cruise such as the engine crew who sweat in the "bowels" of the ship and who keep us afloat! Therefore, to ensure equality for all, we ask that one day before you disembark you place your total gratuities for the cruise portion in an envelope and put it in the marked box. Suggested amount: Rs. 300-400 or $7 – $8  per person, per day.!

IMPORTANT FINAL NOTE ON TIPS: The suggestions are given as guidelines ONLY!

You may leave as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. If you endear yourself to any particular crew member and wish to award them directly - please feel free to do so!

EMERGENCY CONTACTS:

For the hotel names and addresses used for your specific departure - please consult the CONTACT SHEET supplied with your final documents. In addition, the following information may be useful.

American Citizen Services Unit
     U.S. Embassy
      Shanti Path
     Chanakya Puri
      New Delhi  110 021

Phone:  2419-8000, ext. 4249 or 8562 or 4040 or 4032, Fax: 2419-8407, email: acsnd@state.gov. When calling within India, but outside Delhi, first dial 011-. when calling from the United States, first dial 011-91-11-. 

PACKING TIPS & SUGGESTIONS

Items You May Wish to Bring Along:

·         Washclothes and shower caps, as they are not supplied on board.

·         Skin cream, Sun Block and other cosmetics for sun protection.

·         Insect repellent.

·         Spare set of eyeglasses for emergencies. If you wear contact lenses, bring a pair of eyeglasses for occasions when contacts are bothersome to wear, such as in strong wind or dust.                                    

·         Medications, which are vital to your health. These should be accompanied by a letter from your doctor (signed and dated), certifying that such medications are vital to your health. Dosage should be indicated. Always pack any personal medications in your carry-on luggage, not in your checked baggage.

·         Common remedies such as laxatives, indigestion tablets, aspirin and travel sickness pills (the latter will probably not be needed while traveling on the rivers).

·         Sunglasses/Sun hat

·         Umbrella (good for downpours and as sun block)

·         Bring plenty of film, digital memory and/or blank video cassettes.

·         Flashlight

·         Diet sweeteners if you do not use sugar.

·         Instant coffee especially if you prefer decaffeinated!

·         Non-dairy cream packets for your coffee (cream not available on all ships)

·         Binoculars (excellent for viewing scenes along the river and on animal safaris).

·         Batteries for cameras, shaver etc.

·         Transformer and plug adapters (purchase at K-Mart, Thrifty, appliance stores)

SUGGESTED READING BEFORE YOU GO!!

ASSAM/BRAHMAPUTRA

“River Dog”                                                    Mark Shand                                        Little Brown 2002

“Queen of the Elephants”                            Mark Shand                                        Jonathan Cape 1995

“To the Elephant Graveyard”                       Tarquin Hall                                        John Murray 2000

“Himalaya”                                                    Michael Palin

 

 HOOGHLY

“Slowly Down the Ganges”                           Eric Newby                                         Picador

“Penguin Guide to the Monuments of                                               

India, Vols. I and II”                                      George Michell, Philip Davies        Viking/Penguin

 

GENERAL INDIA

“Field Guide to the Birds of

the Indian Subcontinent”                            Krys Kazmierczak                               Pika Press 2000

                                                           

Books and stories written by William Dalrymple, Nobel winner Rudyard Kipling, and others.

MAPS OF INDIA

Nelles map of N.E. India and Bangladesh www.wikimapia.org for detailed satellite images with some place names. Internet sources: www.lonelyplanet.com,  www.amazon.com                             

 Weather for Calcutta

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Temp (max) (°F)

79

84

93

96

95

93

90

90

90

90

84

79

Temp (min) (°F)

55

59

68

75

77

79

79

79

79

73

64

55

Ave. rainfall in mm.

9

30

34

44

139

271

325

328

253

114

21

5

 

WE HOPE THAT THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HEREWITH WILL MAKE YOUR TRIP MOST ENJOYABLE!  THANK YOU AND BON VOYAGE!

Updated 23 February, 2012 - ST @ Value World Tours, Inc. @ All rights reserved