Converted from a Dutch grain carrier to a new luxury hotel barge, the recent introduction of European Waterways’ Enchanté gives us an opportunity to talk about the unique pleasures of river barging.
First, some information on Enchanté, which was completely rebuilt in Amsterdam and is currently winding her way south to her eventual home in the south of France. Enchanté is the latest addition to join European Waterways’ 17-barge fleet of luxury hotels, and she will begin cruising on the Canal du Midi at the end of August.
She provides luxurious accommodation for up to 8 guests in 4 equal double suites of about 200 square feet each, with well-appointed bathrooms featuring showers and luxurious bath products. The barge is tastefully furnished in exotic hardwoods. She has a large, spacious saloon where and a demonstration galley for guests to view the chef.
The ship provides guests with internet connections and a guest computer, television with DVD player and air conditioning throughout. There is also a spacious sun deck, with al fresco dining, gorgeous hot tub and luxurious sun loungers. Enchanté will alternate between two cruise itineraries that will highlight the most delightful parts of the Languedoc, Camargue and Midi regions of Southern France.
Enchanté’s crew of four is comprised of a master chef, tour guide and stewardess, led by a knowledgeable and experienced captain.
Eight guests, four crew! Obviously, we are not talking about a major cruise ship here. No, river barging, where you can walk or cycle along the side of the river and keep pace with your barge, is a far more intimate travel experience, providing up-close access to the smaller communities of Europe. Consider that over the course of a year, European Waterways carries about 2,000 guests, which is about the weekly capacity of a typical ocean cruise ship.
River barging is a calm, peaceful and luxurious experience, not a rock-and-roll presentation with another new thrill around every corner. The barge moves slowly down the river, slips into a new town, allowing guests to poke around before moving on. The menus are sublime, and passengers frequently spend the day looking forward to the evening meal.
The cruise fare includes all meals, wines, open bar, excursions, admittance fees and transfers. Of course, couples can book a cruise on a barge, but groups may choose to charter the small vessels for a week or more.
Let us know if you’d like more information about river barging. It is a special experience.