As parts of Europe are recovering from the Covid pandemic and starting to open up their borders, luxury hotel barges are resuming their voyages down the canals and waterways on the continent and the UK.
European Waterways operates the largest fleet of canal barges. They usually hold no more than a dozen passengers, and they offer a slow, leisurely and immersive vacation through some of the most beautiful, and historic, countryside in Europe. The barges cruise at only 3 mph, often just feet from shore, and often cover just 70 miles on a six-night trip.
That slow pace, say Derek Banks, European Waterways’ managing director, lets passengers “linger and enjoy the moment.” They can take full advantage of the barges’ gourmet meals and explore picturesque villages, vineyards, castles and estates along the way at a comfortable pace.
“Our daily excursions are never run on the clock,” he says. “If they want to, our guests can spend hours wandering about the quaint, narrow streets of a charming small town or the lush grounds of a grand estate. They can enjoy unhurried, private tours to observe artisans at work or visit wineries and distilleries, learning about their ancient crafts and savoring the results.”
On the barge trips, guests can hop off and walk or cycle along the canal towpaths, explore nearby villages for shopping or lunch, and rejoin the boat farther down the canal. Or they can stay on the barge, relax on deck, perhaps with a glass of wine, and watch the world go by.
European Waterways offers specialized itineraries based on culture, history, fine wine or gourmet cuisine through the French countryside. A cruise through the Scottish highlands offers golf on a series of championship courses.
A cruise on the barge Panache in Alsace and Lorraine visits Lutzelbourg, a village with castles, half-timbered houses and crystal workshops. The barge ties up on a quiet corner of the village that’s surrounded by slopes; the ruins of a medieval fortress are on top of a hill overlooking the canal.
European Waterways is now offering 10 percent off on its charters. With the reduction, a whole-boat charter starts at $31,950, and cabins start at $4,095 per person based on double occupancy. The prices are all inclusive, including all meals and an open bar with the finest liquor and local wines. Read more: