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Assam Bengal cruises operates long-distance river cruising in India. An Indo-British joint venture, with offices in Guwahati and the UK, the cruise is a brainchild of Andrew Brock and Ashish Phookan. With 3 cruise ships , the company is the largest and most experienced operator on Indian rivers. In 2003 ABN pioneered long-distance river cruising in India with the unique cruises on the River Brahmaputra in Assam, and in 2007 cruises on the River Hugli between Kolkata and the Ganges was launched. Awarded the Indian National Tourism Award for Innovation in 2004-5, the team is the undisputed leader is leisure cruises in India.
The cruise fleet comprises of 3 ships called:
ABN Chairaidew: The "ABN Charaidew" is a 38m long twin-engine steel hulled passenger boat. The ship has 10 twin-bedded & 2 double bedded cabins with en-suite shower and water closet. The grand old lady of the fleet, the ship comes with a lot of character. All cabin accommodation is on the upper deck, as is a bar and saloon opening onto a front deck. A dining room with full length opening glass doors on each side is on the lower deck, while a large top sundeck offers additional comfortable open-air seating in shade or sun. The cabins are furnished with local handloom fabrics and comfortable cane sofas and chairs.
ABN Sukhapha: The "ABN Sukapha" , launched in Assam in October 2006 has been designed keeping in mind the fragile environment of the river Brahmaputra. A small ship catering to a group size of 24 , the ship’s capacity is well-matched to the numbers of riding elephants available in National Parks . Designed on similar lines with the "ABN Charaidew", the ship features 12 cabins, a saloon a dining hall and a small spa. The spacious saloon has French windows opening onto a front balcony deck and the dining room has glass doors down each side. The large sundeck offers the opportunity to relax on comfortable cane rattan chairs and sunloungers.
ABN Rajmahal: The "ABN Rajmahal" is the newest ship of the cruise and has been launced on the Hugli and the Ganges in mid-February 2014. Built in Kolkata, she is 50m long, is powered by 3 engines, and with extra-shallow draught and a lower profile than conventional designs she can cruise further upstream than any of her competitors. There are 22 cabins in all, 14 spacious twin/double cabins on the upper deck and 4 twin/double cabins on the main deck, together with 4 single cabins. All cabins have French balconies. The décor is stylish and fresh, with touches of colonial elegance, and uses handblocked cotton fabrics of traditional Indian-inspired designs. As with the other ships in the fleet, there is a comfortable saloon and bar and a dining room, together with a vast canopied sundeck. A small spa offers a wide range of treatments.
All cabins and public rooms on ships are air-conditioned.
All the three ships have a separate dining area. Food on board is a mixture of Assamese (milder than most Indian cuisine) and continental. Wines, beer and spirits are available.
The experiences offered by the cruises are:
Assam (Brahmaputra River) cruises : These cruises ferrying on the Brahmaputra river (in Assam), feature visits and attractions such as wildlife viewing (both by jeep and on elephant back), village walks, visits to tea gardens, exploring country towns in cycle rickshaws, barbecues on deserted river islands, dance performances, and visits to craft workshops. Between October and April there are a combination of 7-night, 10-night and 4-night cruises. Cruises can be combined to give durations up to 14 nights. The cruises are as follows :
Bengal (Ganges and Hugli river) Cruises : Ganges and Hugli cruises upstream from Kolkata and includes visits to villages, towns, temples and monuments in a little-known but fascinating and culturally rich part of India, on foot, by cycle rickshaw or minibus. Cruises on the Hugli operate all year round, while the Ganges cruises operate in the winter months only. Ganges and Hugli cruises can be taken separately or together to offer a choice of durations from 4 to 15 nights: