People often ask me what it is that makes a hotel barge cruise really special. Although it’s difficult to put your finger on that magic mixture of circumstances that makes an unforgettable holiday, there are a few things that set a hotel barge cruise apart from other forms of water travel.
A Leisurely Pace
Because a hotel barge is much smaller than a cruise ship, it has access to a huge network of canals and waterways all over Europe. This allows you to sail up and stop right in the heart of some of the world’s most picturesque towns and cities without the hassle of traffic or transfers.
A hotel barge will generally travel at 3 miles per hour, covering fewer than 70 miles in a week. Gentle cruising rather than speedy destination-hopping is the aim of the holiday. Your onboard guide will regularly lead excursions in small groups, by foot or by bicycle, to hidden places that you may not have discovered if you were travelling on your own. This leisurely pace encourages you to immerse yourself in the local history and culture of your surroundings as you watch the world slowly pass you by.
An Intimate Atmosphere
One of the most special features of a hotel barge cruise is the atmosphere that you experience on such a small vessel. Navigating, steering and cooking is all left in the capable hands of your crew, who will become like a second family to you throughout the duration of your trip. Unlike a huge cruise ship with hundreds of guests, a hotel barge is an intimate and private holiday experience.
You could even charter a whole barge for your party, which would make an incredible celebration venue. Imagine a get-together for all the family as you cruise into the heartland of Italy, or a school reunion in style on the serene waterways that snake through France’s wine regions. From Henley to Holland and Burgundy to Belgium, a hotel barge provides the opportunity to spend time with loved ones in luxury.
A Tale to Tell
A hotel barge cruise offers a unique experience that is sure to be remembered fondly for years to come. The unique vantage point you get from the water allows you to appreciate special sights with fresh eyes. The Malpas Tunnel, Eiffel’s Aqueduct at Briere and the Arzviller Boat Elevator are just a few incredible feats of engineering that you will get to experience on a hotel barge holiday.
Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a cruising novice, these holidays will immerse you in the culture and history of each place you travel through. If you’re looking for a laid-back cruise that allows you to find your way into the very heart of many of Europe’s most stunning locations, all in complete luxury and comfort, a hotel barge cruise could be a perfect fit for you.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury hotel barge cruise itineraries in France and other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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