Caledonia is the Latin name given by the Romans to the land above the Antonine Wall, north of their troublesome province of Britannia. These days the word has fallen into disuse, living on only though a brand name – ‘Noble Caledonia’ – a U.K. based travel group specializing in river cruises. It’s a very reputable company, which is why sixteen of the twenty-five passengers sailing the Ganges in November 2009 booked with them.
To all accounts and purposes, the trip was a beautiful no-brainer: all the Caledonians had to do was get on the plane at Heathrow, get off in Kolkata; be met and fussed over, let themselves be transferred to the ship and check-in. All they then had to do was unpack, sit on the upper deck drinking gin and tonic, cruise along the Ganges and fourteen stress-free days later pack up, disembark in Varanasi and fly home.