Ellen has been a broker of luxury European barge cruise vacations for almost 40 years but still does not consider it “work”!
While she now manages rather than sells, her philosophy on guiding travelers to “that perfect barge cruise” continues to inspire the Barge Lady’s top sales team: basing recommendations on extensive personal experience onboard the boats; employing a generous pinch of intuition; and, above all, striving to make the barge cruising experience a special one for each and every guest.
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 has been the selection between 2011 and 2021 as a Top Travel Specialist by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, joining an exclusive community of worldwide travel providers. Ellen is also a Trusted Travel Expert on the Wendy Perrin WOW List.
A true Francophile, Ellen has toured in France over fifty times over her years as The Barge Lady. As she says, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it! She loves to meet the barge crews, enjoy the guided sightseeing, and, of course, sample the divine food and wine, most recently as a guest of the Finesse in Southern Burgundy. Ellen also still pursues a lifelong interest in exploring the hotels of Paris. She chooses a different property for each trip, and then writes a blog post to share her discoveries with Barge Lady guests.
The Barge Lady has become a family business, with the addition of her daughters Caroline Sack Klein and Stephanie Sack. Working with her daughters and realizing their unique talents has been the thrill of Ellen’s life. Ellen’s husband, Nick Sack, known in the industry as “Monsieur Le Barge Lady,” often accompanies her on cruises. At home in Chicago, Ellen happily chaperones her two grandchildren to fun experiences, and also enjoys sharing meals with friends and family at the many wonderful dining venues in town.
Ellen’s says, “As The Barge Lady, I am often asked about my most memorable sightseeing. An excursion both exciting to me and exclusive to the barge Finesse is a private visit of the Chateau de Germolles, the last extant chateau occupied by the Dukes of Burgundy. The current owners are devoted to meticulously restoring the chateau, and also personally conduct the tours. This is precisely the kind of bespoke experience for which the barge industry is celebrated.”