How to Barge Cruise Through Europe
A little known method of seeing much of Europe in the summer is not by large cruise ships, but,by barge cruises. There are actually two types: Small barges that carry 8-12 people and are able to traverse smaller waterways into remote areas and the large river barges, like those that frequent Germany and France. These carry 100-250 people. While it is common knowledge in Europe, in the USA, most Americans associate the barge with ugly, non-passenger friendly boats that carry cargo or garbage.
The best place to barge vacation remains in France, Germany, Netherlands and England, all total, the countries possess 4000 miles of canals. Many of them take you into the countryside traveling at 5 mph, stopping at shore eateries, hotels, castles, wineries. The best time for such a vacation is between April and September. The smaller canal barges allow for the a more intimate vacation, sort of like wine tasting from site to site by a barge instead of by car. Most barge cruises last seven days. The greatest benefit is that barges are slow, exactly what you need on a vacation from hectic life. They tend to stop to allow passengers to explore or hike in places of interests. You also know those on the cruise itself. It becomes personal, which can be a good thing. One canal barge vacation centers on Paris and its Canal St.-Martin. Passengers see a Paris from a canal. Germany offers several great barge canal vacations and is a great starting point to see Europe, wherever the river runs!
The barges you travel in are modern. Cabins are double occupancy with bathroom and showers. Most have Wi-Fi, air conditioning and a hot tub!
In barge cruising, you can either hire the entire barge with a tour guide for the vacation, or just be a passenger. Hiring the barge puts you in control of the where and when aspects of a vacation. The downside to this type of vacation is that you might have to not work out for week and you will not see Europe in seven days! Also, closet space in limited and their is no on-board laundry service.
The cost per person for a week is $3-4,000. Everything is included except for the airfare and getting to the launch site. Initially, it may sound expensive, yet think about the cost of hotel rooms, food, travel.
The canal barge vacation is for those who travel lightly and have planned a specific area to see and explore. If you go, take at least $300 of local currency for shopping in villages etc.
Europe in the summertime is generally like the State of Oregon and Washington. Temps range from 50F to 90F and rain showers are typical depending on the country you are in. What this means is you dress in layers, at times.
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