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How to Barge Cruise Through Europe

Updated on July 19, 2012
Your cabin
Your cabin
Your barge
Your barge
Your river
Your river

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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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago


    • mecheshier profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow, what a wonderful way to travel. A great way to see the countryside and get off the beaten path. Thanks for sharingg. Voted up for useful and awesome.

    • freecampingaussie profile image


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      I would love to be able to do that for a while in Europe - very relaxing but a bit expensive for us !

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yeah, it is the lesser known way to vacation. It may be too relaxing!

    • GClark profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Great information on an interesting subject which has reminded me of a type of travel I thought about exploring sometime ago and, of course, promptly forgot. I loved the idea of being able to get on and off along the way to explore. Have now added this to my "to do" list . Thanks for sharing and the reminder. GClark


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