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Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

Sydney
Level Contributor
37 posts
57 reviews
56 helpful votes
Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

Hi, very keen to do this cruise in January but the reviews I have read are very mixed including some very unhappy ones. The reviews are mostly a couple of years old. Has anyone done a cruise with this company recently?

Thanks for the help in advance

Madrid, Spain
2 posts
1. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

I would certainly recomment the cruise by assam bengal navigation. they have great sights and insightful activities during the cruise with lovely relaxing accomodation which give you astute experience of Assam and of the beauty of the north east. I had an amazing time last year and very much appreciated the hospitality of their service onboard and otherwise. Truly Memorable experience, and one I would recommend to anyone. Though one must keep in mind, that the north east is an untouched developing area thus the road conditions and certain drawback that come along is only understanble to the state´s situation.

ps- the food served onboard is delicious !!

Cornwall England
Level Contributor
1,100 posts
177 reviews
201 helpful votes
2. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

I would encourage you to keep well away from this company who have the most terrible customer relations I have ever experienced.

Kolkata (Calcutta...
Destination Expert
for Kolkata (Calcutta), Darjeeling, India
Level Contributor
8,982 posts
25 reviews
54 helpful votes
3. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

A few details if you please...I think its kind of unfair to just say a company is bad without divulging what went wrong.

Madrid, Spain
2 posts
4. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

nothing can ever be perfect at all times, everything and everyone experiences downfalls at times. maybe mr. cornwall you had a harsh time but assam bengal navigation has probably learnt from this experience and improved to higher scales because we found it to be the unexpected best service of hospitality in such a remote part of india. the crew onboard and the members of the team were extremely hospitable, friendly and always with smiles. Assam was a wonderful experience with the most warmhearted people we´ve met in a long time. my husband and I truly recommend assam bengal navigation as assam and the north-east is a true gem in this world and best visited through assam bengal navigation and their sister company, JTI who helped us dearly throughout.

Cornwall England
Level Contributor
1,100 posts
177 reviews
201 helpful votes
5. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

I did not see the message to ask for clarification until today so will respond now. We booked a holiday with ABN first at their Basnabari Lodge, followed by a 7 night cruise and then 2 nights after at their, then, new lodge at Diphlu River Kasiranga NP. We paid the costs for all of this up front. I have reviewed both lodges.

We received information before we went describing a luxury cruise and excellent lodges. I am afraid to say that we were very very dissapointed. Time has passed but the fact that our complaints were met with flat refusal to refund us for the 2 nights accommodation we did not use and no assistance whilst we were in Assam from ABN still clouds our memories of our trip.

The main reasons for complaint are:-

Vehicle provided unsafe, dangerously uncomfortable (5 hours sitting with your knees under your chin). Even though we complained we had to endure the same vehicle on the way back. We know they had others available but their manager in Assam took that for himself.

Basnabari Lodge is basic and cold although ABN charge top $ for your stay. The elephant ride is unsupervised and there is no safe, proper seat.

Our cruise was cut short due to fog and the whole party transferred to Diphlu River Lodge. This meant we would have been there for 4 nights instead of the 2 nights we had prebooked. It is not a lodge you would wish to spend days relaxing, no spa or any other facilities. We knew there was no spa etc so that's why we chose to only spend 2 nights. If the cruise was cut short we understood that sometimes things like that happen. But we were held hostage by ABN even though we wanted to leave after 2 nights. We put our complaints in writing whilst in Assam on the way to the airport and again back in UK. However the company refused flatly to refund the 500US$ they owed us for the 2 nights unused accommodation.

We left with the assistance of one of the other guests, who also left early, and went to Kolkata where we had an amazing couple of days, at extra expense of course.

Another of the reasons we decided to leave Diphlu River Lodge was that most of our party had food poisoning within 24 hours of arrival. I have explained this in my review of the lodge.

The young staff were not supported by management and had no idea how to deal with customer complaints. We did not push the matter with them at all as we felt very sorry for them and they were doing their best. We found all the local people we met in Assam delightful and are only sorry that ABN ruined our experience.

Hampshire UK
Level Contributor
4 posts
11 reviews
3 helpful votes
6. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

I went on the Upper Ganges cruise at the end of 2010 from patna.

The ship was very disappointing, both in itself and the daily programmes. Although the information says that when moored we would be welcome to come and go ashore as we pleased and that the country boat is only occasionally used to go ashore, we only moored against the shore twice the rest of the time we had to use the country boat and for two of our afternoons in Patna we moored against a sandbank with nowhere to go as it was well out in the river. At other stopping places we were anchored away from the shore and couldn’t come and go, which is what we particularly enjoy and wanted to do. Several other guests made the same comments.

Although the cabin windows had mosquito nets and there was a vaporising mosquito deterrent in the cabin which gave the impression of mosquito protection, the nets were ineffective as there were big gaps (15-20mm) between the net frame and the timber window surrounds, and the vaporising mosquito deterrent didn’t work for most of the night as the generator was switched off from about 11pm to 6am. Several passengers said they had mosquitoes in their cabins at night. The sliding cabin windows were poorly maintained and didn’t work.

The overall impression was that the ship had been built and/or was being run either incompetently or on the cheap or both. The management seemed inexperienced and just didn’t have a clue about organising river cruising.

On the visit to the cattle fair on the first day several of us asked if we could leave our tuk-tuk on the return journey and walk through the villages we had passed through on the way there. We were told by the chief guide that this was not possible and there would be plenty of other opportunities to visit villages. During the following days we and others kept repeating the request to visit villages or towns and see local life, but it never happened, even though it could easily have been arranged. The chief guide and ship manager just didn’t want to bother. They much preferred only to take us on vehicle drives, mostly to various similar ancient sites, and didn‘t even want to stop at interesting places on the way, such as Bakhtiarpur (where it was market day!). On the penultimate day and after an easy village visit could have been arranged we had pathetic excuses for why this hadn’t been done, I had a blazing row with the chief guide and ship manager about their incompetence. The result was that we eventually went ashore at Farraka village on the last evening just before it started to get dark, which curtailed even that visit.

There was so much that was wrong or could have been improved. The ship’s management seemed to have no imagination. My wife and I said to each other how we would love to take over the ship and sort out the ship itself and the shore excursions and bring them up to decent standards.

I’m no health and safety freak but safety on the ship gave us considerable cause for concern.No liferafts were evident on the Sukapha and next day I asked where they were. The first reply from the ship manager was “What’s a liferaft?” After I’d explained it to him he said they had no liferafts but relied on the country boat. This boat is totally inadequate for the safe evacuation of over 50 passengers and crew and was not always with the ship, sometimes for hours on an excursion.

The generator being turned off at night meant that there were no anchor lights, no anti-mosquito vaporisers, no searchlight, and no water pressure. There were safety lights in the cabins powered by a central battery, but these seemed to become ineffective after about 3am. . The fridges and freezers presumably were not working for about seven hours every night which would be a concern especially when the were getting empty.

The Ganges is a fast flowing and sometimes turbulent river. With fuel on board for the engines and also for the kitchen the most likely reason for evacuating the ship would be fire, which is probably most likely to start in the kitchen or a passenger cabin. There is quite a lot of timber in the ship’s construction.

There is no way that the ship is properly equipped to deal with such a situation or to safely be evacuated. The management seemed to think that putting “wearing lifejackets” on the daily schedule every time we went on the country boat was all they needed to do to meet their responsibilities.

The above complaints were sent to the Assam Bengal Navigation Company but I have never received a reply

Hampshire UK
Level Contributor
4 posts
11 reviews
3 helpful votes
7. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

The young guide was excellent, the naturalist was also very knowledgeable. The ship manager was not up to the job and the chief guide kept saying he wanted to learn, but didn’t make any effort to listen to the things we all wanted to do. he just made excuses for not doing them.

Our welcome letter said “We switch off the generator sets at night between 2300 hrs and 0600 hrs…to provide a silent night.” No electrical equipment worked during those hours including those I mentioned before. and the battery powered lights didn’t work after about 0300hrs. When the generator started in the morning it woke the occupants of the cabins in the vicinity.

If you are happy to go on a ship on a fast flowing river like the Ganges with no means of it being evacuated in an emergency, especially at night, that is up to you. Recent events on the Costa cruise ships show what can happen even on well-found vessels.

I had hoped that my comments may have made the British part-owners of the Assam Bengal company improve things to the sort of standards on other Far Eastern river cruise ships but, as they have not replied to me, I can only conclude they haven’t. Improving things would cost comparatively little.

When you go on your next Sukapha cruise look along the outside at each end of the mosquito nets and you will see the gaps I mention.

Cornwall England
Level Contributor
1,100 posts
177 reviews
201 helpful votes
8. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

No change there then!! They simply do not care, take your money and give you terrible service with no redress. AVOID THIS COMPANY.

As you can tell we have still have not got over our disappointment with this company, but are returning to India next year. C

Exeter, United...
Level Contributor
4 posts
99 reviews
49 helpful votes
9. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

We took a 4 day 'taster' cruise on RV Charaidew on the Brahmaputra during February 2012 (Guwahati-Guwahati). This is a relatively new venture for the company, and they are keen to improve their service on an on-going basis (they invited comments at the end of the cruise, both verbal and in writing). The service was very good from the local crew, as was the food onboard. Shore excursions to the local villages were particularly interesting, this being a non-tourist area. The visit to the Orang National Park was not a great success; the boat cannot moor alongside there any more (silted up), and the alternative is a 4 hour round trip by road over some rough terrain. Probably not worth the effort to see just a few animals. ABN know this, and may revise this itinerary. Note that the ship is 40 years old, having been converted from a passenger-cargo ferry, and could do with an upgrade in some areas (bathrooms for example). The other comment regards the state of the berth at Guwahati - it is a rubbish tip (literally) and arriving/departing creates a very bad impression of ABN. They need to moor somewhere else, or clean up the mess, and improve the embarkation arrangements.

I am posting this reply, because I have failed to find anywhere on Trip Advisor where I can write a normal review of this cruise.

Cornwall England
Level Contributor
1,100 posts
177 reviews
201 helpful votes
10. Re: Assam Bengal Navigation Cruises

We loved meeting the local people in the villages but the lack of planning and even understanding by this company of tourist enjoyment of parks full of fog and no animals in sight beggars belief. Having our breakfast on an 'overlook' onto the park covered by dense fog was so unbelievable we all had to laugh! And they got us out of bed at 4am to do it.

They cannot adapt their product to the luxury prices they charge. I do hope they go out of business.C