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Answers to Frequently asked Questions about Barge Cruises

What is a Barge Cruise?

A river cruise, like an ocean cruise, is an "unpack-once vacation" - no more early morning wake-up calls for long coach rides from hotel to hotel! A cruise along one of Europe's many rivers and canals permits you to enjoy the panorama of the surrounding countryside which is always in view. Barges, in contrast to river shipss, are smaller vessels generally accommodating between 6 to 50 passengers in comfort. These vessels generally cruise on the canals, the age-old waterways of Europe, such as the Nivernais in Burgundy, France's most famous wine country, the Canal du Midi in the south of France, or through the tulip fields of Holland or along the Caledonian Canal in Scotland;. Generally they try to stay away from the river traffic although in France, Holland, Ireland and England they can be found on the less travlled portions of the river.
They include all gourmet meals with wine, all shore excursions, and most also include an "open bar" and bicycles for the use of the guests.
You do not travel far on a barge. The purpose of a barge cruise is not to rush from Point A to Point B, but to relax in a stress free environment to enjoy the delights of the countryside you are passing through, and get to know the "soul of the country.".
Is Barge Cruising Only for the sedentary, older traveler?
Not at all! Barge cruising is for those who want a "close-up, personal" experience in Europe. Mature & younger travelers find the pace and comfort of a barges the ideal way to explore the real heart & soul of a country. A bicycle ride into the nearest town or visiting the local market to sample some of the specialties of the region, or simply to cycle along the canal meeting up at the next lock, those are the experiences of a barge cruise.
What is there to do except eat well?
Lots! Each morning and again after lunch, guided tours to historic and cultural sites of the region provide guests many interesting choices from visiting chateaux, famous vineyards, country market towns and private gardens to specialty museums celebrating art, weapons, textiles or even bread! (In between, there is fine food)
How will we do the sightseeing?
Each River Ship has a designated member who has arranged for the daily excursions to points of interest or who will give a running comentary on regions of particular interest as you sail through them.
Will I get bored & feel confined?
Not if you enjoy meeting the locals, viewing passing vineyards and chateaux, or sharing experiences with a congenial group of travelers. You will be able to get off at designated stops where your ship ties up practically at will. Take a walk into town, meet and talk to the locals (most speak english) or simply sit with a glass of wine or local beer and watch the daily activities in town.
Will I get seasick?
Never...rivers and canals are not tidal and are controlled waterways. The gentle movement of the barge anchored for the night have caused even insomniacs to report wonderful, restful sleep.
Do cabins have private bathrooms?
All cabins have private, nicely appointed bathrooms with showers. Some suites include bathtubs. Several barges have saunas and on deck hot tubs or jacuzzis as well
What clothes should I pack? What's the attire on board?
Most passengers enjoy the relaxed atmosphere on board barges and fancy dressing is not the custom. Comfortable, casual attire, sneakers or docksiders on board. Sweaters, a windbreaker and shorts or cotton pants are recommended.
How much baggage can I bring?
Barges are samller than river ships and it may be necessary to restrict the luggage you bring on board to one piece. Some barges offer a jacuzzi, or hot tub - don't forget your swimsuit! Generally, the canals and rivers are not recommended for swimming.
Is there a Doctor or Nurse on board?
There generally is no medical staff onboard, however there are procedures in place in the event that medical attention is required. There are qualified physicians and hospitals all along the route, as well as pharmacies. We do suggest that you carry an extra copy of your important prescriptions with you when you are traveling.
Is there Entertainment on Board?
Due to the limited space on board there are no lavish productions shows. However efforts are made to visit local attractions.
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