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What is a Hotel Barge?
Hotel barges are much smaller versions of a cruise ship, accommodating from 6 to 50 passengers in single or double staterooms. Bathrooms may be ensuite or shared. Most hotel barge trips include all gourmet meals with wine, all shore excursions (land transportation is provided), open bar, bicycles for guest use and other amenities such as hot tub and exercise equipment.
What is a Full-Boat Charter Cruise?
Barges that operate as Hotel Barges may be booked exclusively by a single family or group; some barges accept only full-boat charters. Activities and excursions will be tailored to the desires of the group.
How long are the trips and how fast does the barge travel?
One-week trips are the most common, traveling 60 to 120 kilometers (37 to 74 miles) at a rate of speed equivalent to a brisk walking pace. The barges do not travel at night, nor do they usually travel throughout the day; daytime stops are planned for shore excursions. Frequently passengers will disembark and walk along the towpath when two or more locks are close together, re-boarding at another lock.
What activities and excursions are available?
Activities may include golf, tennis, horseback riding, ballooning, bicycling and hiking. Excursions often are to cultural sites, vineyards, museums and chateaux. Special events are planned for the season, such as tulip cruises in Holland; garden visits in France and England, antique fairs, opera and others.
How do we travel when on land?
A guide will meet guests at a major city; in France, this is usually a Paris hotel, or at another city such as Lyon. From there, you will be escorted by private van or motor coach or, in some case travel by rail, to the location of the barge. Guided shore excursions may be walking tours or by private van or motor coach.
Is physical agility required?
A significant feature of hotel barge travel is that the level of activity is entirely up to the individual guest. Those who wish to simply sit back and relax are welcome to stay aboard the barge and enjoy the passing scene. More active types can take off on village walks, longer hikes, bicycling or any of the activities listed above. Physically impaired persons should discuss their needs with the booking agent to be sure that the facilities of a particular barge will be suitable.
Will I get seasick?
No, there is no significant rocking of the barge. Barges cruise on canals or other controlled waterways where there is little or no movement of the water. The gentle motions of the barge when anchored at night are pleasant and sleep inducing.
Do the cabins have private bathrooms?
Many barges have ensuite bathrooms directly connected to the cabins, with showers and sometimes a bathtub. Some cabins may utilize shared bathrooms and require access from a hallway. Ask for details when booking.