GUWAHATI, APRIL 13 2017: A luxury vessel is being readied after a MoU was signed for river cruise service between Assam and Bangladesh from September next year.
Ashish Phookan, Managing Director of the Assam-based pioneering river cruise operator Assam Bengal Navigation (ABN) said the vessel named ‘Charaidew 2’ is being prepared to sail between Bangladesh and Assam with passengers from September next year.
The new vessel has been designed specifically for river cruise in Bangladesh and India so that their water level and height of some of the bridges are not disturbed. It has has 14 twin/double and four single cabins, besides spa and gym facility, he said.
ABN, Phookan said, had initiated the process for the cruise service nearly 10 years ago to meet the demands of his clients during the last 15 years. The company was the pioneer in long distance river cruise in the country in 2003 with unique cruises on Brahmaputra river in Assam and was the first to run cruises on Hoogli river in Kolkata in 2007.
“We were awarded the Indian National Tourism Award for Innovation in 2004-2005. Experience counts for everything here and our expertise in the field of river cruising on both waterways is unrivaled,” he said.
The company has three cruise ships – ‘ABN Charaidew’ and ‘ABN Sukapha’ in operation in Assam and Bengal and ‘ABN Rajmahal’ on the Ganges.
The signing of the MoU for the river cruise will boost tourism in a major way in both the countries, Phookan said adding it will also generate employment opportunities for the people of the two countries.
He said so far inland vessels of both the neighbouring countries could transit through the specified routes of each other. But now changes will need to be brought as the routes were finalised by both the governments and authorities have informed that vessels cannot be parked at unassigned sites.
The MoU and the standard operating procedures on passenger cruise services on the coastal and protocol routes between governments of the two countries were exchanged on Sunday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi.
“The operationalisation of this MoU will promote people-to-people contact and cooperation between the two countries in respect of economic, social and cultural advancement,” an official statement had said.