About Canal Barge Cruises in Europe
The Barge Lady Explains The Who What and Where of European Canal Barge Cruises
What is a European Canal Barge Cruise?
Barges are handsome vessels carrying 4-22 passengers that cruise through European canals, primarily in France. Barging focuses on gourmet food and wine, while exploring the countryside and relaxing. A dedicated crew cooks and cleans, pilots the barge, and gives chauffeured tours of local vineyards, châteaux, historic churches, markets and enchanting Medieval villages. Guests indulge in the food and wine, go on daily excursions, leisurely bicycle, enjoy the scenery, mingle with other guests, and read and relax on the deck. Barge season is from mid April – the end of October.
What is a Hotel Barge Cruise vs a Self Drive Barge Cruise?
Hotel barge cruises are turnkey operations complete with staff. A hotel barge has 4 – 6 in crew that speak English and will cater to every need: a Captain, Chef, Tour Guide and Hostess. Self drive boats are as the name implies. You are responsible for driving the boat- you are the captain, tour guide, housekeeping, chef and dishwasher.The Barge Lady only represents hotel barge cruises. We do not book self drive cruises, but we can recommend a reliable broker in the United States.
Where in Europe do Barges Cruise?
European canal barges cruise in France, Holland, Ireland, England, Scotland and Germany. However, most barges cruise in France.
- France: Barges cruise in the Burgundy, Champagne, Canal du Midi, Provence-Camargue, Upper Loire, Alsace-Lorraine and Gascony regions.
- Ireland: Hotel barge Shannon Princess cruises on the Shannon Waterway between Athlone and Killaloe.
- England: Hotel barge Magna Carta plies the scenic River Thames between Hampton Court and Oxford.
- Scotland: Cruise in Scotland aboard the Scottish Highlander on the Caledonian Canal. Float right across Loch Ness!
- Holland-Belgium: Barges cruise in Holland during Tulip Time season, April through mid May and then cruise through Belgium on their way to France. Holland cruises begin and end in Amsterdam.
- Germany: Barge La Nouvelle Etoile cruises between Remich, Luxembourg and Koblenz, Germany on the Mosel River. La Nouvelle Etoile cruises in Germany late September through October.
Who are Barge Guests?
One Couple: Barging is ideal for one couple, because it gives them the opportunity to meet other barge guests whom they will have much in common with: being well-traveled and having an interest in food and wine.Many couples walk away with new friendships and new travel companions (for the next barge trip!).
Groups of Couples: Parties of 2 – 6 couples have often traveled together before considering a barge cruise – so they are familiar with the idea of a private charter. Groups who have gone on safari, rented a villa in Tuscany, chartered a sailboat in the Caribbean or the Greek Islands, or organized golf vacations are all prime candidates for a barge charter.
Families: Two and three generation families LOVE cruising on their own vessel. Our dedicated crew will cater to children’s meals and plan activities the whole family will enjoy. Grandparents often charter a barge for the whole family to celebrate a major birthday or anniversary.Smaller families of parents and children can also be accommodated.
Women: Barging is an inspired choice for “ladies”, both groups and singles. For groups of women seeking a“Girls Getaway”, barging is a perfect solution!The “girls” can bond over gourmet cuisine, fine wine and the charm and delight of the countryside; all while being pampered by the crew. Even the single ladies can be accommodated – consider the barge Luciole in Northern Burgundy which offers 2 single occupancy rooms without the single occupancy supplement. The single women will be completely taken care of on a barge cruise and will join a small group of like-minded guests.
How are European Barge Cruises Rated?
All barges have been rated based on a star system, which is modeled after a hotel rating star system. The higher the star, the bigger the cabins and more amenities on the barge. It is important to note that the service, cuisine, daily excursions and overall experience remains comparable across the board. The star system is helpful in establishing a budget and setting expectations with regards to cabin size and barge amenities. The rating system was established by The Barge Lady to set expectations for the barges.
3-Star – The perfect option for guests more interested in authentic experiences than in on-barge amenities. These barges are operated with two in crew and offer the opportunity to eat some meals onshore, organized and selected by the captain. The vessels are cozy and comfortable, each cabin with an en-suite bath. From $3,500 per person
4-Star – This is an eclectic category. Cabins are small but well-designed and with an en-suite bath.Decor varies, often nautical in ambiance or reflecting the cruising area. Delicious meals are accompanied by local wines, and the ambiance is festive and fun. From $3,500 per person
5-Star – There will be spacious cabins, amenities such as hot tub, personalized and charming décor, and fabulous cuisine with a variety of wines and highly-trained crew. From $5,000 per person
6-Star -These vessels have the highest possible degree of spaciousness, with cabins as large as hotel rooms. The barges are ornately decorated, often using fine fabrics and antiques, and offer amenities such as a hot tub, open chef’s kitchen and grand piano, and show an overall commitment to top quality in cuisine, wines and highly personalized service. From $6,500 per person
The Barge Lady has been a broker of European canal barge and river cruise vacations since 1985. Six night canal cruises are available from April – October on the waterways of France, England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Scotland. We accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express. All prices are subject to change at any time. Specific offers can be withdrawn at any time. Special offers cannot be applied retroactively to cruises already booked. Call us at (800)880-0071 and let’s discuss which of these cruises is perfect for YOU!