When you hear ‘luxury cruise’ you may picture a glitzy cruise liner, multiple decks with swimming pools, tennis courts, and opulent furnishings. But luxury at ABN means so much more. It’s in the smaller details - the genuine welcome from the local staff as you board the boat. The handmade textiles, carefully chosen to honour the heritage of the area and support traditional crafts. The freshly prepared meals that shine a spotlight on the authentic - and delicious - local cuisine. At Assam Bengal Navigation, luxury means an honesty in the materials, the experiences and the service.
We call it ‘conscious luxury’; it’s an opportunity to experience true hospitality, cultural wealth and mesmerising sights, all while enjoying the supreme comfort of spacious cabins, en suite facilities, panoramic views of the river, spa treatments and an inviting saloon bar. The luxury here is understated, honest and honours the beauty of the landscape, the people and the cultural heritage.
Step aboard as we invite you to discover what to expect from a luxury India river cruise.
A Warm Welcome
From the moment you step aboard your luxury India river cruise, you’re assured of a warm welcome. Our staff are carefully chosen from local villages in the area - this means that from the chef to the bartenders, everyone you meet will have the best local knowledge. More than this, they have a passion and pride in their home area that means they are the best ambassadors to help you truly understand and appreciate the places you visit and the sights you see when cruising down the river.
From the welcome reception to the evening turndown service, the naturalist and guide’s expert knowledge to the post-excursion cold towels and drink, your friendly staff go the extra mile to ensure your experience of their home state is as positive as possible.
With the help of your guides and staff, your experience of the traditions, culture, cuisine and communities is enhanced. The luxury of an ABN India river cruise lies in the genuine and often unexpected encounters and experiences along the way, often untrodden by the footprint of mass-tourism.
Home from home
Our luxury isn’t one of opulence and identikit furnishings. It’s an honest appreciation for the handicrafts, time-honoured traditional trades and craftsmanship of the local area. From the hand-woven cotton textiles to the Assamese designs, every space has been created to honour the local heritage. We take every opportunity to celebrate our regional heritage, evoking a sense of home through the hand-crafted wooden or rattan furniture, hand-woven textiles, indigenous motifs and locally sourced handicrafts. From the cane jakois on the walls of the ship's saloon to the bisoni motifs on our cushions, there's a story behind each piece just waiting to be told.
Even our ships are locally built by expert craftsmen and engineers - there’s no one better to understand the local waterways and how these impact the ship’s design and maintenance. So from the practicalities of the design to the luxury of each handsewn detail or locally carved sculpture, your time aboard an ABN boat is a chance to experience the local culture at every turn.
Meals that tell the story of the area
Mealtimes onboard an ABN ship are an occasion to savour. Whether chatting with new-found friends, sharing stories of the day’s excursions or swapping bird sightings from the deck, they’re a sociable, friendly experience.
The menu shines a light on the local cuisines, with freshly prepared dishes often made using ingredients bought that day from the local farmers’ markets. These are regions of great cultural diversity and guests are treated to menus that tell the story of that heritage, from Southeast Asian influences to dishes from the British colonial era. We find a luxury in the homemade, fresh ingredients and passion of the chefs, using recipes that have been passed down through the generations. You can find out more about this from two of our Head Chefs, Gautam and Bidham, in their own words, here.
Cultural Performances and Entertainment
From traditional dance to folk music and classical performances, the entertainment onboard an ABN ship tells the story of the region and the people. It’s a chance for our guests to experience the cultural heritage of the area, in an honest and authentic way. This isn’t the glitzy, ‘luxury’ entertainment of the large cruise ships but local performers sharing their culture and history with you.
In a region famed for the colourful, expressive folk dance of the indigenous tribal groups, the onboard performances are a way of helping those traditions to continue. The smaller nature of ABN’s ships and lower numbers of guests means a more intimate experience of the dances, where you can enjoy the colour, the intricate embroidery of the costumes and the expressive detail of the dancers upclose.
The Luxury of Time
When so much of our lives is spent rushing here and there, making appointments, hitting deadlines, and being bombarded by information, there’s a luxury to be found in the time and space provided by an Indian river cruise. You can’t put a price on the luxury of time; sitting on deck in one of the comfortable loungers, G&T in hand, and watching life unfurl on the riverbanks.
Each ship has a small gym and spa with a range of treatments, ideal for a massage to ease jet-lagged bodies, or soothe post-excursion muscles. So whether working out or indulging in a well-earned spa treatment, it’s easy to make time for yourself.
When your mode of travel is also a destination in itself, there’s an ease to the trip that you don’t find with traditional itineraries. There’s no need to pack and unpack time and again, and as you travel from one location to another you can spend your time birdwatching from the French balcony of your cabin, chatting with the guide, reading or simply relaxing in the saloon bar.
Luxury Indian River Cruises
Once you step aboard an ABN ship the stresses and concerns of the real world slip away as the ship slips its moorings. Whether indulging in your interests, enjoying a spa treatment, or simply soaking in the sights and sounds of life on the riverbank as you cruise by, this is a luxuriously leisurely way to travel. To find out more about Assam Bengal Navigation’s luxury India river cruises on the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, contact our friendly team here. We’re looking forward to welcoming you!