What is a Luxury Hotel Barge?
A barge refers to a specific style of hull, which is
designed to navigate in shallow inland waterways.
Most barges were built to carry goods into hard to
reach areas of the country. Hotel barges, which are
fully crewed and are operating today, usually are
cargo hulls, which have been redesigned and totally
rebuilt. They are barge hulls over which cabins and
saloons have been constructed in order to
accommodate travellers. Luxury barges are state of
the art conversions accommodating 4 to 20
The cruises include all gourmet meals with wine, all
shore excursions, "open bar" and bicycles for the
use of the guests and various other luxury
facilities. These vessels cruise on small waterways,
mostly canals. The purpose of a barge cruise is not
to rush from Point A to Point B, but to relax in a
stress free environment with fine food and wine,
enjoy the delights of the countryside you are
passing through, and get to know the "soul of the
country." The barges travel neither far or fast.
Are these barges only available for groups to
charter only or can I book just one or two cabins?
You may choose to charter the entire vessel or book
one or a number of cabins on board and join other
like minded passengers. When the vessel is
chartered, you and your party will have the full
capacity of the boat and may request certain
deviations from the regular schedule and the
service. When doable, our crews will make all
efforts to accommodate. These special requests must
be made known at the time of the first deposit and
will be confirmed in writing.
What is the maximum number of people a barge can
Our vessels carry between 4 and 20. We can tandem
barges and take groups of up to 34 persons.
What amenities can I expect on the barge?
All cabins have private, nicely appointed bathrooms
with showers. Some suites include bathtubs. Several
barges have on deck hot tubs or jacuzzis and other
facilities such as exercise rooms.
Are barges cruises expensive?
Barges come in many styles and levels of luxury from
rustic and comfortable like a good Country Inn to
elegant, like a fashionable country house hotel. But
the essence of barging is not decor...but the taste
and texture of the region that is revealed in the
welcome greeting of the villagers, the smiles and
hearty charm of the lock keepers, and the personal &
friendly attention of local artisans and guides.
Barge rates do reflect the level of luxury and the
season...but since they are inclusive, they are
great value. Meals, wines, open bar, guided
excursions and admissions...all included!
Generally speaking, the smaller the vessel, the more
personal the service, and the more exclusive the
experience. This is reflected in the pricing. Small
vessels are ideal for families, groups of friends,
or individuals who are attracted to the luxury of a
Will I have a language problem?
No. All our crewmembers speak English and are
generally British. Other languages like Italian,
German and French are also spoken. When cruising
through mainly rural areas, one is quite likely to
find the locals speaking with a strong dialect.
Although sometimes difficult to understand, we still
encourage you to try to communicate with them.
English is the main language on board.
Will I be able to make special requests?
Special dietary requests can be made to the Chef or
barge Captain prior to your cruise. If there is a
specific beverage you would like to find at the bar
or a certain dish you wish to try we can usually
accommodate. Please advise our reservations
department at least 4 weeks prior to your cruise.
These requests should also be submitted to us as
early as possible. If there will be a birthday or
other special event to celebrate during your cruise,
please let us know. We will try to accommodate these
requests, however we ask that you understand that in
some cases we may be unable to do so. Please make
sure that you advise us of any food allergies or
medical conditions that require special attention.
If you are chartering the barge the itinerary is
customisable, we will always do our best to visit
anywhere you desire on route.
What sort of activities will I find during my
Lots! Each morning and again after lunch, guided
tours to historic and cultural sites of the region
provide guests many interesting choices from
visiting chateaux, famous vineyards, country market
towns, private gardens to museums celebrating art,
weapons, textiles or bread! Other interests, like
golf, ballooning, riding and tennis are also
accommodated. (In between, there is fine food &
drink) Each barge has a designated crew member guide
and an air-conditioned van or bus that travels with
it, for daily excursions to points of interest such
as nearby chateaux, colourful local markets, ancient
monasteries, or fascinating specialty museums. Of
course there is also the joy of the cruising itself
to look forward to.
Is barging only for the sedentary, older
Not at all! Canal cruising is for those who want a
"close-up, personal" experience in Europe. Mature &
younger travellers find the pace and comfort of a
barge the ideal way to explore the real heart & soul
of a country. More active types like to take off on
village walks, hill climbs or bicycles...meeting up
at the next lock. The unique advantages of a barge
is that we can tailor an itinerary and celebrate a
special event to suit the guests
How does your pricing work?
All prices were accurate when we went to press but
are subject to change thereafter. Individual prices
are applicable to two guests sharing a twin/double
cabin. Prices for single travellers with incur a
single supplement on all vessels except those with
What do the rates on the barges include?
All meals catered for by our on board Master Chef,
all good regional wines served throughout the
cruise, open bar with a large selection of alcoholic
and non alcoholic beverages, chauffeured and guided
sightseeing and use of all barge facilities such as
bicycles. Some barges also have jacuzzi, sauna,
chart room with TV/DVD. Local transfers to your
barge are included and we will advise you of your
meeting point at time of booking. On our Family
Charter Cruises equipment for babies and children
will be included on most vessels; Cribs, Travel Cot,
High Chair, Car Seats, toys, children bicycles and
baby bicycle seats.
What do the rates on the barges not include?
Optional hot air ballooning. Medical Cancellation
Insurance: We strongly recommend the purchase of
medical cancellation insurance within 14 days of
submitting deposit for your cruise. The optional
How long are the barge cruises?
Length of Cruise: Barge cruises are six nights /
seven days in length. The great majority of our
departures are on Sunday and finish on Saturday
morning although some weekday departures are
available. It is possible to do multiple cruises
joined together and we occasionally have special
What seasons do they cruise?
In France, Germany, Italy, Scotland, Holland,
Belgium, Luxemburg, Ireland and England, most of our
cruises start early April to mid November, but some
vessels in France, England and Scotland can cruise
during the winter.
If I am physically challenged can I cruise on one
of your boats?
Two of are barges are wheelchair accessible and have
all the facilities required for those who are less
physically able including a lift. There are some
programs, which are not feasible for travellers who
are physically challenged. Please be sure to check
with us prior to booking. Barges, as a rule, are not
suitable for those who are physically challenged
since they rarely have elevators between decks, and
the mooring is not alongside quays or piers.
Will I feel confined?
Not if you enjoy meeting the locals, viewing passing
vineyards and chateaux from a hot tub on deck, or
sharing experiences with a congenial group of
travellers on journey more like a moving house
party. You will be able to get on and off your barge
practically at will, to take a walk along the
towpath or a bicycle ride to town. (All the barges
have bicycles on board for passenger use). Meet and
talk to the locals, view the vineyards, or accompany
the crew as they shop in the early morning for
delicious, freshly baked bread and croissants. Learn
the secrets of fine cuisine from your gourmet chef.
Savour an amazing variety of local cheese and other
delicacies. All of this in addition to the included
sightseeing tours en route. The gentle movement of
the barge, anchored at night, has caused dedicated
insomniacs to report wonderful, restful sleep. It is
the relaxed atmosphere aboard, the friendly and
helpful crew, the peace and tranquillity of the
countryside, together with the wonderful cuisine;
lively conversation and interesting sightseeing that
make it magical.
I've never barged before, where should I go first
Surprisingly, this question comes up pretty often.
Classic barge cruising is now available across
Europe. Because our vessels are Small enough to
navigate the smaller canals and rivers , we
concentrate on these, and leave the 100 passenger
cruise ships behind! France is very popular, but
have you considered the beauty of the Scottish
Highlands or the intrigue of Venice?