Ellen has been a broker of European canal barge cruise vacations for almost 35 years as she especially enjoys advising travelers on “that perfect barge cruise.”
Her recommendations are based on extensive experiences onboard the barges, travel to all of the major European cities, a pinch of intuition, and, above all, ideas as to what will make the trip special for each and every guest. As Ellen often reminds her top team, the Barge Ladies offer both knowledge AND service above all else.
Ellen’s journey to becoming “The Barge Lady” began while working as a travel agent in the late 1970s in Chicago. In 1986, an opportunity came to launch a small barge in Burgundy. In the ensuing years, Ellen’s professional and personal lives would be deeply intertwined with barging, not only through booking many repeat guests but also as a leader with longevity in the barging industry.
Throughout the decades, Ellen has received many accolades for her expertise. She was featured in the book “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” and was called the “reigning expert on barge cruising” by Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor of the Today Show. Professionally, her biggest thrill was the selection between 2011 and 2020 as a Top Travel Specialist by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, joining an exclusive community of worldwide travel providers. Accordingly, Ellen has also been prominently featured in prestigious publications such as The Wall Street Journal, France Today, and Porthole Cruise Magazine.
This lauded level of responsibility for recommending barge cruises creates the PERFECT excuse for Ellen to visit Europe. A true Francophile, she has toured in France over fifty times to meet the barge crews, experience the sightseeing, and, of course sample the divine food and wine, as you can read about here. The inland waterways of England, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Italy have also played host to Ellen’s many European explorations.
The Barge Lady has become a family business, with the addition of both her daughters: Caroline Sack Klein and Stephanie Sack. Working with her daughters and realizing their unique talents has been the supreme thrill of Ellen’s life. Ellen’s husband, Nick Sack, is known in the industry as “Monsieur Le Barge Lady”, and accompanies her on many cruises. She spends time with her two grandchildren, happily chaperoning them to activities around Chicago, and also enjoys sharing meals with friends and family at the many wonderful dining venues in town.
“I am so grateful for my wonderful life combining work, family, and travel, and I love to share this joy with Barge Lady friends and guests.” – Ellen