European Waterways has announced that it will be expanding its excursions and on-board ship options to include more immersive activities that meet travellers’ rising demand for experiential holidays.
A leader in the luxury hotel barge cruising market – with an 18-vessel fleet in Europe and the British Isles – the company plans to add unique, highly personalised experiences such as an exclusive tour of a castle garden in Scotland led by the head gardener; enjoying a plate of fresh oysters after a private tour of an oyster farm; and a visit to an artisanal chocolatier to learn first-hand about the art of making chocolate.
According to Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways, the company is continuously curating and tailoring new guest experiences which are truly immersive of the local culture. In recent years, they have also begun to further personalise their classic wine tastings excursions, expand their culinary demonstrations to include more private one-on-one with regional chefs, and other activities that enhance the intimate nature of hotel barge cruising.
“Because we travel the unspoiled countryside, our cruises are really voyages into the heart of local traditions. There are no large groups trampling through the streets or competing against other groups for popular large attractions,” said Banks.
“Since most barges hold no more than 12 guests, we can go to places that are impossible for larger groups to go to. Also, barges can be completely chartered by friends and multi-generational families for even greater flexibility and personalisation of their itinerary.”
European Waterways are currently offering up to 20% off for cabins and charters on select cruises throughout the spring and summer, which is exceptional value for those interested in the distinctive benefits of canal cruising.
Another benefit of hotel barging versus larger river vessels, is that guests have the flexibility to take ‘shore leaves’ at almost any point along the route. They can hop on a bicycle to explore the countryside, or wander through the quaint little villages they pass along the way. With the barge speed barely above a brisk walking pace, they can easily catch up to it at one of the friendly locks, through which the captain expertly steers his boat. They could even strike up a conversation with the lockkeeper and learn from them first-hand about life in the French countryside.
L’Impressioniste, in Southern Burgundy, is among the many barges expanding their experiential activities. In addition to meeting with a local chocolatier to learn about her tasty art, it also provides visits to the historic Chateau de Commarin for a private, guided tour by the Count himself, who also joins the group in the garden for an exclusive tasting of his favourite wines.
Anjodi, on the Canal du Midi, takes passengers for a tour of Le Mas de Jeanne oyster farm in the famous Thau Lagoon. Afterward, the host offers guests a glass of local white wine such as Picpoul de Pinet with fresh oysters on the terrace overlooking the oyster beds.
The company’s new Spirit of Scotland takes guests to on a private tour with the head gardener of Cawdor Castle, which is believed to be the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. While Panache in Holland offers an exclusive visit to view a highly skilled clockmaker at his workshop.
“Hotel barge cruising brings you as close as possible to the land, its people and their rich, regional history. The vessels are literally several feet from shore at all times, just steps away from the lush countryside and charming villages that are frozen in time,” said Banks.
“Our guests are often sophisticated, knowledgeable travellers who have already seen the famous sites in the countries we cruise. Now, they want to explore those out-of-the way places of our destinations through our privately conducted excursions that take the ‘path less travelled.’ Even at the height of summer season, there’s no waiting your turn behind other groups as we visit with hosts whose only guests are our guests.”
Visit www.gobarging.com or call 1800 828 050 for information on pricing, cruises and schedules on these barges and more.
SOURCE: European Waterways