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Frequently Asked Questions


Please call us at 800-880-0071 or email ellen@bargelady.com
if your question is not answered below. Let’s start to plan your great barge adventure.


Choosing Your Perfect Cruise - Go to page ›

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I've Looked at All the Sites - and Areas - and Barges - and am More Confused than When I Started - HELP!!!

FIRST, RELAX. YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE!
Ellen, The Barge Lady says: "I've been in business longer than anyone on the web and am experienced and opinionated. I will take you through the process; we will eliminate everything that is not right and generate several ideas which meet your needs."

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When Should I Book My Barge Cruise?

Starting now! Choice barges on choice dates book quickly.

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What does the Barge Lady do?

Our job is to help you find THAT PERFECT BARGE! We start by listening well: to your dreams, your expectations, your interests and your budget. Based on what we hear, we will make specific suggestions and will not allow you to become bogged down by considering too many vessels! This is a process! Sometimes it takes a bit of time and thinking to settle on the right cruise. If there is more than one decision maker, we hope to talk to each one.

All of us here at Barge Lady have enjoyed barging in Europe. Ellen Sack, The Barge Lady herself, has been in the travel industry for over 35 years and has visited every vessel in our fleet. Caroline, Kelly, and Lori have also enjoyed barging and each has a definite viewpoint. We understand that we are selling is KNOWLEDGE, and perhaps even more important than knowledge, OPINIONS. Collectively we have more first-hand experience than anyone on the web - and would be delighted to share it with you.

After you decide on your cruise, we will book it, collect the cruise fare, help you plan your trip (If we don't provide a specific service in our office, we refer you to reliable colleagues), and issue boarding documents. From the time you book to the time you depart, we are CONSTANTLY AVAILABLE to answer any and all questions you may have!

Please call us at 800-880-0071 or e-mail to ellen@bargelady.com and let’s start to plan your great barge adventure.

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What should I tell Ellen, The Barge Lady?

How many people are traveling?
Ellen says: “The number of travelers is the single most critical factor in booking the right barge. Your party may consist of one couple, a group of couples or friends, a family or a single. We are experts at matching your party to the perfect vessel and experience.”

When are you thinking of traveling?
Ellen says: “Our six night barge vacations are available every year from mid-April to the end of October. Each season – spring, summer and fall – has its own charms. We might recommend different vessels or regions, depending on when you want to travel.”

What is your price range?
From Ellen:"You may not know this immediately, but look over my Barge Rating System - and get an overview of the per person prices and how they match to Charming Class, First Class, Deluxe and Ultra-Deluxe vessels. Then ask yourself: What is important to me to pay for? And - How does the barge cruise fit into the overall trip budget?"

Do You Have Special Interests? Or, are you drawn to one particular area?
Says Ellen: "Some customers say they have been dreaming about barging in Burgundy their whole lives. That gives us a starting point. Others are just attracted to the barging experience, so I will work with that in a different way."

Once we together decide what is important, I'll mail you (and other members of your group if desired) color brochures. Then, we'll continue to speak, think, and refine your thoughts until the perfect cruise is booked.

Booking Your Cruise - Go to page ›

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Do You Accept Credit Cards?

Yes! Visa, American Express, and MasterCard - we also accept checks.

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Can I Travel with a Serious Health Problem?

Our barges reserve the right to refuse to book or board individuals with serious medical conditions; with problems related to aging, such as dementia; or those who use a wheelchair. We expect potential guests to report these conditions at the time of booking. Our barges often cruise well away from medical facilities, the barges and excursions are not wheelchair accessible, and crew cannot be responsible for the care or oversight of guests with physical or mental impairment. Neither an individual barge (its owners and/or operators) or The Barge Lady will assume liability in the case of injury, accident, worsening of medical condition, lack of access to care and the like. If you have any question about what constitutes a “serious” medical issue, PLEASE ASK US.

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How Does Actual Booking Occur?
  • After you have chosen your barge, we will option your desired date and hold it for 7 to 10 days.
  • Once you have double checked all details, perhaps booked air, and made a final decision, we will invoice you for deposit, which is generally 25% of the cruise price and is most always non-refundable. We ask for a signed Credit Card Charge form and will supply this.
  • Final payment will be due 60 to 90 days before departure. We will invoice well in advance.
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Itinerary Changes
  • All confirmed itineraries are subject to change due to drought, flooding and other acts beyond anyone's control. This happens rarely, but when it does, the barge will move to the closest open waterway.
  • An itinerary change will not be accepted as reason to cancel the cruise.
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Will We Receive Documents?
  • We will mail Boarding Documents in a timely manner, to arrive 30 to 60 days before departure.
  • Beside the Boarding Documents, we will send a folder with some "surprises" which will aid in the enjoyment of your cruise: area maps, itineraries, postcards.
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What If I Have Questions Between The Time We Book And Cruise Departure?

That's easy! Just email Ellen ellen@bargelady.com or call (800)880-0071 and ask for Ellen.
WE ARE ALWAYS HERE TO HELP!

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Medical Cancellation Insurance
  • We strongly recommend the purchase of medical cancelation insurance within 14 to 21 days of the date your booking is confirmed. The day we receive your deposit is the date of the booking confirmation. Coverage purchased within this time frame is much more valuable than coverage purchased later. The barge cruise can and SHOULD be insured, even if the rest of the trip is not arranged. If needed, other elements can be insured later.
  • We work with an experienced insurance agent who will work with you to arrange the most coverage at the best price. Information about this company will be provided as part of your deposit invoice.
  • If you have ANY questions regarding medical cancelation insurance, please call us at (800) 880-0071.
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What are Immigration and Passport Requirements?

Every country has immigration regulations regarding passports, visas and entrance requirements in general. As these are subject to change at any time, we do not publish them, but do urge that you contact the embassies of the countries you are visiting. Be very certain, in particular, that the expiration date on your passport is correct with regards to current regulations.

All About Canal Barging - Go to page ›

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How Long is a Barge Cruise?
  • Cruises are of 6-night / 7-day duration.
  • Cruises begin either on Saturday and end the following Friday or on Sunday and end the following Saturday.
  • In our experience, this is the perfect length! Long enough that you can really relax and enjoy, short enough that you can easily combine with a stay in one of Europe's major cities.
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What are the Barging Season Dates?
  • In France, from the first week of April through the end of October.
  • In Holland at Tulip Time, from the second week of April through the second week of May.
  • In Ireland from mid April to early October.
  • In England from mid April through the end of October.
  • In Germany from late September through the end of October. 
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What Exactly is a European Barge Cruise?

A barge cruise vessel carries 22 passengers or less. These intimate barges cruise on short itineraries of 30 to 50 miles a week, deep in the countryside. Barge cruising is for those who want to experience a small area in depth; who want to be totally relaxed; and very interested in wine tasting and gourmet cuisine. As well, barging is perfect for small groups of 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 or 14 passengers to arrange a private charter: groups of couples, friends or families!

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What Is Not Included In The Price Of The Cruise?
  • Transfer to the pick up point for many barges, particularly in the South of France.
  • Highly recommended medical cancellation insurance. We recommend an experienced insurance agent who will work with you to arrange the best coverage at the best price. Information about this company will be provided as part of your deposit invoice.
  • Airfare to country in which you are cruising.
  • Optional crew gratuities. The gratuity is given in one sum to the Captain, who distributes it to the crew. We recommend a formula based on 5 - 10% or the cruise price.
  • Gratuities should be given in local currency, i.e., Euros in France, Holland, Ireland, Germany or Pounds in England.
  • Items of a personal nature such as stamps, postcards
  • Meals or snacks taken off the barge when specified
  • Optional hot-air ballooning, where available
  • All expenses associated with optional golf
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What Is Included In The Cruise Price?
  • Pick-up at the beginning of the cruise and drop-off at the end of the cruise to a train station, hotel, rental car office or airport closest to the cruise route – We will assign pickup and dropoff locations and times.
  • All continental style buffet breakfasts (some offer cooked breakfasts on request)
  • Lunches served with wine
  • Four or Five course evening meals served with wines (often a different wine - with each course)
  • Open bar (on the few barges where open bar is not included, it will be stated)
  • Daily chauffeured and guided excursions to local places of interest
  • Entrance fees to places visited
  • Use of on board bicycles
  • Use of on board facilities such as Jacuzzi, pool, exercise equipment and musical instruments (please note these items are not found on every barge - ask to be sure of your barges facilities)

I'm On Board, Now What? - Go to page ›

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Air-Conditioning? Central Heating?
  • Most of our hotel barges are air-conditioned, however, the newer the hotel barge, the better the system.
  • All are centrally heated.
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Are There Hairdryers In The Cabins?

Yes. You do not have to bring a hairdryer. If you have other equipment, such as electric shaver, curling iron, etc, you must bring a converter.

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Are There Laundry Facilities On Board?

No, not for the guest's use. The crew can usually arrange to send laundry out at your expense - but it is better to plan not to need laundry done while on board.

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Can I Smoke?

Not inside the hotel barge, for obvious reasons! Possibly on deck, if your fellow cruisers agree.

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Do I Have To Go On The Excursions?

The short answer is, of course, "no!"

  • You can stay on board and read or take a private walk on the towpath: The choice is ALWAYS yours.
  • That said, excursions to local chateaux, villages, markets, churches, and vineyards can be very enjoyable!
  • You might plan to at least try...
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Food and Drink Preferences?
  • We always want to know about food allergies and will advise the chef in detail. We can also ask the chef to plan for vegetarian meals or to avoid food that you really dislike.
  • As for drinks, at Barge Lady we ask for brand preferences, but do not guarantee that any particular brand will be supplied. This depends on local availability, of course.
  • If you or your party would like to order Premium wines, champagnes and liquors at your expense, just ask - and we will arrange to get in what you want (again, within limits of what is available) and arrange for you to pay when you board.
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How Fast Will We Go? Will I Get Sea Sick?

Since there is a speed limit of 4 miles an hour on the canals, you will go slowly!

  • You will not be sea sick, as the canals (and even rivers) are non-tidal.
  • All barges moor for the night, so you will never be cruising at night.
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How Many Crew Members Will There Be?
  • From just 2 on the very smallest barge to 9 on the very largest.
  • The more expensive the barge cruise, the higher the crew: guest ratio.
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What Kind of Converters will I Need?

For shavers, curling irons or to juice your cell phone, you will need to bring a CONVERTER. For barges in FRANCE, HOLLAND, BELGIUM or GERMANY, bring a converter which adapts to 220 volt Continental European currency. For barges in ENGLAND, IRELAND and SCOTLAND, bring a converter which adapts to 240 volt United Kingdom currency. There are many companies on-line which sell converters. If you are the slightest bit confused, let an expert help. Shop Converters

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What Are The Bathrooms Like?
  • All of our hotel barge cabins have en-suite baths. A toilet, sink and shower are minimal equipment.
  • Some barges have full-size bathtubs (Amaryllis, Prosperite) while others have double sinks.
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Will There Be A Music System On Board? Other Media and Entertainment?
  • All barges have music systems and a music library. Yes, you can bring your own CDs!
  • Some barges have television either in the salon or the cabin. - Barges offering this include Meanderer, Roi Soleil, Savior Vivre, Alouette and Apres Tout.
  • Other vessels place an individual DVD in the cabin and carry a collection of movie tapes. Some vessels offering this are Savoir Faire, Prosperite, Absoluut2 and Napoleon.
  • All barge cruises have paperback library and carry board games.
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Will The Crew Speak English?

Not only will they speak English, they will likely BE English! Bi-lingual crew hails from all over the world as well: France, Holland, New Zealand, and Australia.

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Will Our Cabins Be Cleaned During The Cruise?

Yes, cabins and bathrooms are cleaned daily.

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Will I Have Internet / Email Access On The Barge Cruise?

If you would like to have internet access while on your barge cruise, you should bring your own 3G card for your laptop. Only a few of the barges offer computers with internet access – please call us at 800-880-0071 or email ellen@bargelady.com for more information.

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Where Will The Cruise End?

Again, we will advise in detail and help you coordinate your onward travel plans via train, rental car, air - or just lingering a few days in an area hotel - or in Paris, London, Dublin or Amsterdam!

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Where Do I Meet The Barge?

We will advise you the meeting time/place for most cruises immediately upon booking. A member of the crew will meet you at the pre-arranged site, whether it is a hotel, railroad station or rental car office.

*Customized meeting and return drop-off points may be arranged for charters.

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What Should I Wear?

Aim for comfort and take only as much as you absolutely need. We will advise you in detail once you book. Closet and drawer space is variable. There will be a lot more storage space on, say an Ultra-Deluxe rated hotel barge, than on a First Class hotel barge. Pack light!

Money Matters - Go to page ›

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Are Credit Cards Accepted In Europe?
  • Yes, widely so. The Barge Lady uses her credit card to cover hotels, restaurants and most purchases.
  • Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted; American Express less so.
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Are Travelers Checks Accepted In Europe?
  • We urgently request that you not purchase travelers checks.
  • They are no longer widely accepted by either retail establishments or banks, and when accepted, there is a hefty fee attached.
  • Nor will barge crew appreciate travelers’ checks as a gratuity – since they can’t cash them, either.
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Do I Need To Bring Money On My Cruise?
  • Yes - to pay in cash for souvenirs, postcards, or a coffee when you are off the barge.
  • Credit cards are appropriate for large purchases. We find that Visa and MasterCard more useful than others.
  • Also, the crew will need to be tipped in local currency as well.
  • We recommend 5% to 10% of the cruise price given in one lump sum to the Captain. (You do not give out individual gratuities as is done on cruise ships.) The amount we suggest is just that: A suggestion. A gratuity has to be earned! The amount of the gratuity is up to you.
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I Don't Want To Carry A Lot Of Cash - HELP!
  • You can use your bank ATM card or your credit card to take money out of ATM machines, which are found all over Europe, even in the smallest towns.
  • Please inquire with your bank as to whether your local access code is valid internationally, or you can ask your credit card to provide an ATM access code.
  • These arrangements should be made well in advance of departure.
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What Is The Currency In Europe?
  • In France, Holland, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, and Austria it is the Euro. In England and Scotland, it is Pound Sterling
  • The US dollar is not accepted anywhere in Europe or The United Kingdom.