European barging is ideal for travelers looking for new ways to explore traditional destinations in Europe, and it’s growing in popularity with a variety of people discovering the flexibility with itineraries and the convenience of this method of travel.
TravelPulse recently spoke to John Wood-Dow, director of European Waterways, to discuss the unique attributes this type of travel gives travelers.
European Waterways currently has a fleet of 17 barges that travel throughout Europe, including France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Scotland, England and Ireland.
One of the best qualities of barging is that it provides travelers with so much flexibility and this type of cruising is the ultimate small ship experience, with between 8 and 12 passengers on each ship.
“It is cruising for non-cruisers,” said Wood-Dow. “Passengers can always get off the boat and walk. The general dynamics of barging is that it appeals to an older market with a bit more of a budget. This market is growing as they have more money and time.”
One of the biggest advantages of barging is the flexibility, as well as the in-depth experiences passengers have in each destination. Cruises run on set itineraries but, for those traveling in groups, itineraries can be completely customized.
“It’s really easy to put together a small boat of people 8-12, and once you have booked the whole barge, the itinerary is even more flexible,” said Wood-Dow.
That doesn’t mean that passengers can’t select a set itinerary and join others onboard. Passengers can choose a region that they would like to explore and book a scheduled sailing such as the Classic Cruise—Southern Burgundy, which explores some of the world’s finest wineries on one of the prettiest canals in France.
Guests on this sailing are met in Paris and board the barge for their journey in Fleurey-sur-Ouche and sailing to Escommes. Guests enjoy private winery tours, shopping at local produce markets, bicycle rides, strolls along the canal and tours of chateaus and more.
The barge is like a home away from home and itineraries are all-inclusive.
“Everything is included, we pick you up from the city,” said Wood-Dow. “We transfer you. All food all wine everything is included along with the excursions and the only thing that’s not is gratuity.”
Passengers have comfortable accommodations in en suite staterooms or suites and chef-crafted gourmet meals, fine wines and an open bar are all included as are daily excursions, which include places of interest, private wine tastings and more. Guests also have access to bicycles and on-deck spa pools on most barges.
Guests can also choose themed itineraries as well that include golf trips, culinary-focused journeys, wine sailings and more. And, while barging continues to grow for couples and small groups, families are also discovering this unique opportunity.
“[Barging] is informal and itineraries and activities can adapt to the interest of the different generations,” said Wood-Dow. “That’s what people like and that’s what is harder to do on a bigger ship where it’s not your private space.”
Families and multigenerational groups have leeway to plan their own itinerary if they so desire.
“We let the group know about a variety of activities and we will put a program together,” said Wood-Dow. “If you charter the whole boat, it’s your own space and you can do whatever you want.”
Families don’t have to book the entire barge to sail with European Waterways. On a regularly scheduled sailing, the cruise line welcomes children 12 and up.
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