Here’s a way to get away from it all: Charter a luxury hotel barge for a cruise through the Scottish Highlands.
European Waterways, the largest hotel barging company in Europe, can help you with that. It runs two vessels, the Scottish Highlander (pictured above), which holds eight passengers, and the Spirit of Scotland, which holds 12. They both cruise through Scotland’s iconic Caledonian Canal and other areas of the Highlands with stops along the way for everything from golf to touring medieval castles to tastings at a whisky distillery.
Because of the pandemic and people’s changing travel plans, European Waterways is offering 10 percent discounts on some departures next year on these cruises and some others in its fleets in France, Italy and elsewhere in the U.K, if they’re booked before October 12.
“Many travelers who were unable to take their cruises this year have rescheduled for 2021,” says Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. “For them, it’s only a dream deferred, not a dream forgotten. A hotel barge cruise is on their bucket list, and they want to satisfy that wish as soon as possible.”
The Highlands cruises are designed for families or small groups that charter the boats themselves, and modify the cruises to reflect their own interests. The boats have on onboard master chef for gourmet meals; they also have a choice of 18 single malts behind the bar and traditional Scottish fare including salmon, game, and seafood.
The barges travel just a few feet from shore and pause at canal locks along the way, so guests can step off and take walks or jogs along the level towpaths. They also can ride bikes to explore villages nearby.
Shoreside excursions include a private tasting at the Tomatin whisky distillery, a tour of Cawdor Castle, often cited as the inspiration for Macbeth, and a visit to Eilean Donan, a 13th Century castle in almost perfect condition that sits on a small island where three sea lochs (lakes) meet.
European Waterways has been running hotel barge cruises for 40 years. It follows strict safety and hygiene procedures on board to deal with any health issues at the time. Read more: