Blue Water Holidays
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
Experts in River and Small Ship Cruising Holidays since 2002
01756 706500 +44 1756 706500
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
01756 706500
+44 1756 706500
European Waterways

European Waterways Luxury Hotel Barges

Cruise along the inland waterways of Europe including the Canal du Midi or Burgundy Canal in France, the Thames in England or Scotland's Caledonian Canal onboard a floating hotel. These luxury hotel barge cruises are fully crewed and accommodate between just 4 and 20 passengers. They are available for either individuals wanting to cruise with other like-minded people, or as a whole barge charter, ideal for families and groups.

Hotel barge cruises are the perfect way to explore the scenic countryside and delightful villages, whilst enjoying a balanced mix of daily excursions and relaxing cruising. Travel in all-inclusive luxury with comfortable, air-conditioned cabins and enjoy superb service, gourmet meals and an all-day open bar.

Cruise Collection 2019 / 2020

About European Waterways Cruises

European Waterways have over 35 years' experience in hotel barge cruises. The fleet of barges consists of 17 vessels, carrying up to 20 passengers. The wide choice of cruises offered cover 9 countries in Europe.

Hotel barge cruises generally cover around 70 miles in a week, and cruise at only 3mph so it's a relaxing journey taking in all the passing scenery. All scenic cruising takes place during the day, and the barge will be moored at night. The cruises are on smaller waterways which are inaccessible to larger river cruise ships.

Each hotel barge cruises are for 6 nights and includes:

  • 6-night all-inclusive cruise
  • Comfortable accommodation in air-conditioned en-suite staterooms or suites
  • Gourmet meals prepared by the on-board chef
  • Fine wines and an open bar
  • Daily escorted excursions in an air-conditioned minibus to places of interest and private wine tastings
  • Local transfers
  • Use of bicycles and on-deck spa pool (on most barges)
  • Attentive service from an experienced English-speaking crew - Captain, Chef, Tour Guide and Host/Hostess

Accommodation

European Waterways' hotel barges designed in a traditional, luxury style with comfort and elegance in mind. All the hotel barges have central heating and are air-conditioned. Every hotel barge benefits from an annual refurbishment.

Each vessel has its own individual style with different decor, furnishings and artwork chosen to complement the area and its history. Onboard there is a well-stocked library and included Wi-Fi. There is also an open bar service.

The majority of vessels also have bicycles on board so you can cycle along the tow-paths.

Each luxury hotel barge has been given one of the following three categories:

Ultra Deluxe Hotel Barges: Very spacious cabin suites comparable to luxury hotels
Finesse
Enchante
Renaissance
La Nouvelle Etoile

Deluxe Hotel Barges: Comfortable, slightly smaller cabins
La Belle Epoque
L'Impressioniste
Panache
Scottish Highlander
Spirit of Scotland
Magna Carta
Shannon Princess

First-Class: Compact but cosy cabins
L'Art de Vivre
Anjodi
Athos
Rosa
Nymphea
La Bella Vita

Cuisine

Your onboard chef will create fine dishes for every course. Enjoy classic traditions of French and international cuisine. The gastronomic delights created onboard become a highlight of the cruise. The mouth-watering menus reflect the region the guests are cruising through, and use the finest ingredients from local markets and specialist suppliers.

Breakfast is continental and usually includes fresh fruit, cold meats, bread and pastries. Lunch may be a buffet with salads, pates, quiche and meat of fish platters, or a soup and entree accompanied by local cheeses and wines. Finally, dinner will be the culinary highlight of the day and will include regional and national dishes, with each course being complimented by fine wines.

Daily Excursions and Insider Experiences

Daily excursions are a highlight of all the cruises and are designed for you to experience the richest treasures in each area. You can explore quaint, medieval villages, half-timbered buildings, castles, museums and abbeys. You can even enjoy wine tastings in privately-owned vineyards and shop in colourful open-air markets. The aim is to give guests an authentic and immersive experience, showing them something new away from the main sights.

Excursions may include:

  • Vineyards and wine tasting
  • UNESCO World-Heritage sites
  • Off-the-beaten track visits
  • Private stately homes
  • Historic battlefields
  • Castles and Chateaux
  • Art and craft locations
  • Famous film locations
  • Distilleries and breweries

Private Hotel Barge Charters

Each hotel barge can be chartered so you have the entire vessel to yourself. This is ideal for families or groups and celebrations. The itinerary can be tailored in advance to suit the group's interests. Each hotel barge still comes with the same attentive crew, included excursions and open bar.

Multi-Generational Charter Cruises

A hotel barge charter makes an idea family holiday for all generations with time to relax together and enjoy a voyage of discovery. All ages can be catered for so everyone enjoys the trip and an itinerary can be tailored to suit the family's interests. The route will usually follow the Classic cruise itinerary, but the day-to-day experiences can be altered and can include extras such as a zoo visit or go-karting. The onboard menu can also be adapted to suit young children on request. All the family can get involved in steering the vessel, biking alongside on the towpath or relaxing on the Sun Deck.

Themed Cruises

A wide selection of themed cruises are available including golf, walking, cycling, wine appreciation and opera cruises.

La Belle Epoque Enchante Interior Panache Superb cuisine from the onboard chef Spirit of Scotland Cabin Family Cruising Ideal for group charters Visit local markets Enjoy regional cheeses Cycle along the towpath Enjoy fine wines

European Waterways Destinations

Top Hotel Barge Cruise Destinations

1. Canal du Midi

Linking the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the sunny Canal du Midi is one of the oldest man-made waterways in Europe. A World Heritage Site, the Canal du Midi has unusual oval locks and beautiful bridges and aqueducts and is sheltered by plane trees for long stretches. The sun-drenched Midi region is noted for its Corbieres and Minervois wines, ancient Roman settlements and sleepy villages, and for its blend of Provencale and Mediterranean cuisine.

Central on the Canal du Midi is Europe's largest and best preserved medieval fortress at Carcassonne. Its medieval towers and walled city make a romantic World Heritage site. Eastwards cruise to Argens, dominated by its 14th century chateau. The Canal du Midi winds past vineyards to villages such as pretty Le Somail, the start of a long lock-free section.

Perhaps diverting down the Canal de la Robine towards Narbonne, the Canal du Midi continues to the interesting village of Capestang and the world’s oldest canal tunnel at Malpas. Then descend the flight of seven locks at Fonserannes to the west of Beziers, birthplace of Pierre-Paul Riquet, founder of the Canal du Midi. Close to the Mediterranean the Canal reaches the fishing village of Marseillan on the banks of the Etang de Thau in the Camargue. Four hotel barges operate on the Midi: 8-passenger Anjodi well-known from Rick Stein’s TV French Odyssey, 8-passenger Enchante and 10-passenger Athos.

West of Toulouse in the Gascony region, enjoy cruises over the Canal de la Garonne on 8-passenger Rosa (also used by Rick Stein). Highlights are Montauban, the amazing inclined plane boat lift at Montech, and the graceful aqueduct at Moissac.

2. Burgundy

Burgundy is renowned for its vineyards, ancient chateaux, historic churches, and picturesque villages. Long-time associated with fine food and wine, the Burgundy region is crossed by three major canals – the Canal de Bourgogne, the Canal du Nivernais and the Canal de Briare. Our luxury hotel barge routes cover different sections of canal – each passing through superb countryside with a wealth of history and attractions.

In the east of Burgundy, the Upper Burgundy Canal is cruised by the 12-passenger La Belle Epoque through the wine country of Chablis. Sights include the chateaux of Tanlay and Ancy fe Franc and the World Heritage Site of the Abbaye de Fontenay. The Lower Burgundy Canal is cruised by 12-passenger L’Impressioniste. Visit chateaux, the city of Dijon and its ducal palace, and Beaune noted for its wines and its ancient Hotel Dieu Hospice.

The Canal du Nivernais is one of the loveliest in France, passing through medieval towns, sleepy villages, forests and pastures. Cruised by 8-passenger L’Art de Vivre, sights include Auxerre and its cathedral, the hilltop village of Vezelay with its World Heritage Site church, and Chablis vineyards.

In western Burgundy the Canal du Briare is the oldest in France, featuring the Pont de Briare, built by Gustav Eiffel in 1896, and the seven lock flight at Rogny les Sept Ecluses. Cruise through the Sancerre wine region, explore the beautiful village of Apremont, and tour wine chateaux. The northern Canal de Briare is cruised by 8-passenger Renaissance.

3. Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is known as the ‘Garden of France’ with rolling green hills planted with vines, and dotted with historic villages. The River Cher and the Loire weave through the valley beside medieval hamlets, graceful bridges and the architectural treasures of hundreds of picturesque Renaissance chateaux.

Near the River Cher in the Loire Valley famous chateaux include the wonderful Chateau de Villandry and its Renaissance gardens, the Royal Chateau d ’Amboise, Chateau de Nitry and its rose garden, and Close Luce at Amboise where Leonardo da Vinci lived for three years until his death in 1519.

Your hotel barge cruise goes through the 5-arched bridge which supports the exquisite Chateau de Chenonceau and continues to Montrichard and the troglodyte village of Bourre. In this territory of Touraine vintages, discover vineyards and their fine wines, and enjoy colourful street markets.

4. England

A scenic cruise along the Thames begins at Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace, passes historic Runnymede, takes in a tour of the Queen's Windsor Castle, and visits Tudor manor house Dorney Court, often used as a film location. See the Stanley Spencer Gallery at Cookham, a traditional wooden boatbuilder at Hurley and sail the course of the Henley Regatta. Your hotel barge is the 8-passenger Magna Carta.

5. Scotland

In Scotland the journey from Inverness begins with a visit to Cawdor Castle and the site of the 1746 battle of Culloden. See Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness and Eilean Donan Castle in its island setting. Experience the atmospheric setting of Glencoe and see the engineering marvel of the 8-lock Neptune’s Staircase with dramatic views of Ben Nevis. Your hotel barge is the 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland or the 8-passenger Scottish Highlander.

6. Holland and Belgium

The 12-passenger Panache cruises through Holland in the Spring. Highlights include the traditional windmills of Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the colourful Keukenhof Gardens, home to millions of flowers. There is also the opportunity to explore the Dutch city of Alkmaar and the charming town of Delft, renowned for its porcelain.

The 8-passenger La Nouvelle Etoile explores the picturesque waterways of Holland and Belgium, visiting the famous Keukenhof Gardens, the Delft Pottery Works and Flemish city of Antwerp, before calling at Bruges, known as the Venice of the North.

7. Italy

Italy is a country designed for hotel barge cruises. Its beautiful canals and rivers pass through diverse landscapes, from picturesque lagoon islands with their colourful houses, to wild beach dunes and pine woods with an abundance of birdlife. These waterways were once the ancient trade routes used by the Romans and the early Mediterranean settlers. They are perfect for gaining a real insight into the many cultures that have influenced the arts, architecture and history of the Venice region over many centuries.

Venice itself is the heart of any Italian cruise. The lagoon surrounding Venice and its magical islands, the Venice Lido beach, the fabulous private villas on the River Brenta all complement the many attractions of Venice including St Mark's Square, the Grand Canal, Bridge of Sighs and the many canal backwaters which reward exploration.

Cruising south through the Venice lagoon reach the fishing port of Chioggia and its cathedral with fabulous works of art. Your hotel barge then takes the River Po and Bianco Canal to the lakeside setting of the Renaissance city of Mantua. Excursions include the Estense Castle at Ferrera, noted for its moat, drawbridge, and sumptuous apartments.

8. Ireland

The River Shannon is the longest river in the British Isles, and our cruise on the 10-passenger Shannon Princess II brings you in touch with the soul of Ireland. Cruise Loch Ree to bustling Athlone, and visit Clonmacnoise 6th-century monastic ruins.Through Portumna swing bridge cruise into the idyllic Loch Derg and lunch at the ancient Derg Inn. Enjoy a taste of Ireland in Guinness and oysters in Galway city before cruising to the lakeside village of Mountshannon and Killaloe.

L'Impressioniste Enchante Spa Pool Anjodi Athos Finesse Cabin Renaissance Crossing the Briare Aquaduct Enchante L'Art de Vivre Dining Saloon Scottish Highlander Renaissance Renaissance Saloon Scottish Highlander