Two Pandaw river ships scheduled to sail in India have been prevented from crossing from Myanmar, where they are currently positioned.

Tug boats are waiting on standby to transport Katha Pandaw and Orient Pandaw to India once the ships have been given clearance by Myanmar’s government.

Three sailings on Orient Pandaw in India have been cancelled as a result of “shipping policy changes” introduced by the Myanmar government, Pandaw Group founder and chief executive Paul Strachan said on Friday.

He added that the issues were currently being resolved at ministerial level.

The line had planned to launch Orient Pandaw on the Lower Ganges on December 23.

Pandaw told Travel Weekly passengers who booked the three cancelled sailings have been fully refunded or offered land or water alternatives.

Orient Pandaw’s Indian sailings were first announced in May last year. In July 2018, plans to launch Katha Pandaw on the Upper Ganges from October 2019 were announced.

Strachen said: “We are allowed to change vessel deployment. In Burma, we have nine vessels and we are constantly redeploying according to situations.”

A Pandaw spokesperson told Travel Weekly: “We are proceeding with our plans for a full opening with two original Pandaw ships for October 2019.

“However, the soft opening with an initial small ship planned for January this year has had to be postponed due to issues with exporting the vessel from Myanmar.

“We are confident that the ships will cross from Myanmar in good time for the October opening.”

October sailings on both the Lower Ganges and the Upper Ganges are nearly fully booked, the line added.

Demand for more river capacity in India prompted a move away from Myanmar – a country which initially had been popular among cruise lines.

It is understood this shift from Myanmar had been caused in part by more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh in a bid to escape a military crackdown in the country.

Explaining the demand for capacity in India, Strachan said: “The Ganges is the mother of all rivers.

“There is no other river on the planet with so much cultural interest along her banks combined with very varied scenic beauty.”