There is growing optimism in the travel community that the 2021 season will see a more positive “return to normal” in destinations around the world. Many travelers whose vacations were canceled in 2020 have rescheduled for 2021, while new bookings continue at a steady pace. Travelers feel hopeful that health concerns will have diminished by next year as countries reopen their borders to international tourism.
“Our guests are definitely more optimistic,” said Derek Banks, managing director of luxury hotel barge cruising specialist European Waterways, whose season begins in late March. “Hotel barge cruising has proven to be especially attractive during this time. It offers the ideal ‘travel bubble’ for families, small groups of friends and like-minded guests. They can charter the entire vessel and have it to themselves all week, cruising together through the less populated countryside in the safety of a single group.”
Banks observed that from the moment they join a European Waterways cruise, guests are pampered by an attentive crew that caters to all of their needs. The company follows strict health and hygiene protocols onboard, and crew members personally chauffeur guests in private air-conditioned transport to all excursions. Some of the tours are to outdoor attractions or, if indoor, usually conducted exclusively for the benefit of European Waterways’ guests.
“But there is plenty to do back at ‘home base,’” said Banks. “Hotel barges are like self-contained ‘luxury villas on the water.’ They offer enough amenities to keep everyone entertained as long as they want, including bicycles for pleasant pedaling on the canal towpath beside the hotel barge or through charming, postcard-perfect villages. Gourmet meals are prepared and served onboard by a master chef, with lunch and dinner featuring at least two fine vintages selected from local vineyards.”
Setting a High Bar
The remote and spectacular landscape of the Scottish Highlands are increasingly popular for guests who want to “get back to nature” and experience the wonders of this legendary region – its scenic beauty, its rustic cuisine that includes traditional fare such as salmon, game and seafood and – most certainly – its excellent whisky! European Waterways’ deluxe, 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland and elegant, eight-passenger Scottish Highlander cruise across Scotland’s Great Glen, along the stunning Caledonian Canal. They feature open bars with an excellent selection of 18 single malts, as well as a private tour and tasting at the famed Tomatin whisky distillery.
European Waterways is offering a 10% off early-bird special on selected 2021 Scottish Highlander charters, valid for the April 4, 11 and 18, 2021 departures. With the special, charters start at $31,950, a saving of $3,550 off the regular $35,500 price. Charters must be booked by January 8, 2021 and other restrictions may apply. Cabins start at $4,590 per person, based on double occupancy.
On the European mainland, as one of the world’s most popular destinations, France has been celebrated for centuries in literature and songs as a center for culture, art and architecture, wine, and fine cuisine. European Waterways’ 12-passenger Panache hotel barge allows guests to explore all of these attributes as it cruises the legendary region of Champagne in late May and June. In Champagne, guests enjoy private tours and tastings at renowned champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon and Maison Pannier. Excursions include a visit to the 800-year-old Reims Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece that once served as the site for the coronation of the kings of France.
“We are the largest hotel barging company in Europe, so you’re bound to find the perfect cruise that caters to your interests, whether its historical, cultural, artistic, or gastronomic,” said Banks. “Our guests book many months and often years in advance to ensure they can celebrate special occasions like wedding anniversaries and birthdays, as well as family reunions and group get-togethers.”
Book With Confidence
European Waterways’ “Book with Confidence” policy provides greater flexibility in rescheduling future cruises, should they be impacted by government restrictions. The health and safety of guests are also top priorities, with strict protocols in place that include crew and passenger temperature checks as well as deep cleaning and disinfecting of all cabins and public surfaces on the boats. For more information, visit www.europeanwaterways.com
About European Waterways
Hotel Barging is a boutique, unique experience which offers an immersive, all-inclusive “gentle voyage of discovery” that focuses upon the culture, history, fine wine and gourmet cuisine of the region. With a six- to 20-person capacity and 1:2 crew ratio, European Waterways is able to provide an impeccable level of on-board service and can transport their guests on the intimate inland waterways that are inaccessible to larger vessels. This fascinating network of smaller canals allows for flexibility, spontaneity and ample opportunity to hop off and explore the beautiful surroundings via bicycle, or on foot. In addition to this there are daily, chauffeured excursions “off the beaten track” to a wide variety of enthralling locations, from exquisite wine tastings to private tours of stately homes. With over 40 years’ experience and a fleet that spans nine countries, European Waterways is the largest luxury hotel barging company in Europe. For more information, call 1-877-879-8808 in the U.S. and 1-877-574-3404 in Canada, or visit www.europeanwaterways.com.