The pioneering ABN operates three steamers in India, handsomely furnished and extremely comfortable throughout. On offer between mid-October and March are two highly varied and interesting routes. The first follows the Brahmaputra in Assam, pausing at wildlife parks, historic towns, tea plantations and craft villages along the way. The second travels up the Hooghly, via a string of abandoned cities.
Life on Board
All of the ships are essentially floating luxury hotels. You sleep in air-conditioned cabins with large windows, and dine on gourmet food served by well-trained, liveried staff. Entertainment, in the form of Indian classical music and after-dinner lectures, is often laid on, while workshops, from sunrise yoga to Indian ritual flower arranging, are frequently on offer. There’s usually a well-stocked library on board too, but for the most part, gazing over the water and socializing with other travellers soaks up most free time.
One of the great delights of river cruising in India is the chance it affords to explore some truly remote areas of the country which you might otherwise never hope to visit. Every day features excursions to market towns and villages to see local potters, sari weavers and metal workers in action, as well as an array of historic monuments, among them the ruins for forgotten colonial posts and regional capitals that once ranked among the richest ports in Asia.