There’s no better way to get to the heart of a country than through its rivers – so why not consider a river cruise?
These waterways cut through every essence, unravelling cultural and historic sites as they do so. River cruises and ocean cruises, despite sharing some key similarities, have different natures, and therefore require different vessels. The barge is now a popular choice for many river cruisers across the world, here’s why…
It’s all very well setting sail on a huge ship, packed with luxury facilities which would put your local high street to shame, but smaller boats actually deliver a similar rush. Picture the scene – you’re passing through the Rhine on a barge, sitting by the hull and enjoying a cold drink. To your right lies an eloquent bar, and behind that a small restaurant serving up fine meats and cheeses to passengers. As if this couldn’t be more relaxing, some have hot tubs for those evenings when you just want to, well, do nothing.
A smaller ship, in turn, means fewer people. Take your pick from the deck’s best spots, or plush sofas inside.Life on-board is comfortable from the get-go, with some barges only housing 22 guests. Chefs here have worked with the best, literally, in certain cases, with some having shared kitchens with Michelin-star chefs. Browse the menu and see what takes your fancy, before indulging in your food journeying down the river.
Thanks to the size of these boats – some hold only 12 cabins – they’re able to get down much narrower waterways, docking at ports which others simply couldn’t reach. This comes in handy, particularly in Europe, for anyone wanting to explore beyond the beaten track. Sail along Burgundy’s rivers, stopping at quaint French towns as you do so. Park up and enjoy some of the region’s lesser-known delights from eateries you’d previously have never discovered. Barge tours are smaller in nature, so guests are given access to other ways to acquaint themselves with the regions. Hire a bicycle and see what small towns have to offer beyond the riverbank, or book onto a walking tour and uncover a destination’s past.
Peace and Quiet
Many people go on holiday for that much loved sense of tranquility. When you’ve got a few swanky seating areas – both inside and out – and the comfort of your cabin to pick from, then it’s easy to put your feet up. Kick back, and let the magic of the river wash over you. Certain companies also provide on-board commentary, so you can learn about the history of the region as you pass through it. Depending on when you travel you’ll also be wanting a certain degree of sunshine. On a barge, there’s no competition over who gets the best lounger, or the best spot – there’s enough for everyone. Regardless of whether you choose to lose yourself in a good book, or the serenity of the water, you’ll see that barges and relaxation go hand in hand.
Trends in travel come and go, but the barge’s rise in popularity is a whole new development in the world of river cruises. No longer are these boats confined to industry and housing, they now present a highly desirable way to see the world.