5 Times A European Hotel Barge Cruise Is Better Than A River Cruise

You’re about to discover the five times
you should choose a barge cruise in Europe over a river cruise.
I’m Gary Bembridge, and this is another of my tips for travellers. I’m just
back from a barge cruise through France on CroisiEurope Deborah, and I thought
it would be a great opportunity to talk about the five times that I think a
barge cruise is a better choice than a river cruise in Europe. The first, and one
of the most important reasons for choosing a barge over a river cruise in
Europe, is pace. If you’re looking for a vacation which is slower and much
more relaxing, then take a look at a barge cruise. The reason for that is
the way that barge cruises work. First of all, they cover a much smaller distance.
They might travel only 50 to 70 miles across the course of seven days. They
travel and cruise much slower. An important reason for the pace slowing
down is that barges do not cruise at night. Normally what happens is you will
have half a day of excursions and half a day of cruising along the canal, or if
you’re cruising along the rivers along the rivers. The barges are always docked
at night, so it has less time that it can be cruising than on a river
cruise where you might cruise all night. The whole pace slows down because you’re
going to be spending half of the day on board the barge as you meander along the
canals or the rivers. The pace slows right right down. If you’re looking
for something that’s calmer as a vacation option, a barge is a great
option. A second good reason for choosing a barge over river cruise is if you are
a sociable person and you like small intimate experiences where you
really get to know a few people really well. A river cruise boat will have
between 120 to 200 passengers, but barges are much smaller. For example, on the
CroisiEurope Deborah barge there are a maximum of 22 guests, and many other
barges are even smaller where you might find there’s an average of 12
guests. It’s a smaller and intimate experience and you’re going to
get to know people really well,
because you’ll go out on excursions together, you’re dining together and you will
socialise together. It’s a more intimate experience and if you’re the
sort of person that likes to travel with less people and you like to get to know
people really well, a barges is a really good option. River cruise boats
are quite small in terms of number of people, but this is an even more intimate
experience. The third area where a barge cruise could be a good option is
if you’ve travelled quite a lot around Europe or you’ve seen lots of Europe, a
barge cruise could be a really good alternative, because barges as
they go on canals, will go to more out-of-the-way places. They might go to
quieter places while river cruises go on the big rivers and go to
the big towns and often go to many of the must-see iconic
towns. Barges tend not to do that because they’re going along canals. They’ll go to more out-of-the-way quieter places, smaller villages and towns, so you’re
going to see parts of Europe that you’re not going to see otherwise. They
go deep inside the countryside. You are going to see very different things.
If you’ve seen many parts of a country or you’ve been to all the big iconic
places in Europe, a barge is a really interesting way of seeing a
different side of a country, because it’s going to take you to more out-of-the-way
places. Definitely it’s a good option to think about if you feel you’ve
done quite a bit of Europe, or alternatively you don’t want to see the
obvious things, and you want to see more in-depth and unusual places
a barge cruise is a really good idea. If you are less bothered, or have
seen all of the big iconic places, and you want to see the more out-of-the-way,
the more rural, the more countryside parts of a country, it really is
definitely going to give you a very different experience. Another reason when
a barge cruise may be better than a river cruise is, if you’re the sort of
person that’s not bothered with having lots choice. First of all,
you’re going to have less choice of the number of places you can go to. Barges
largely cruise on canals, about 95% of all barge cruises in Europe are on
canals. These are man-made waterways built largely in the 18th century and
were designed to transport goods around about Europe
before railways came along and, of course, eventually road haulage came along.
95% of barge cruises go along canals, and because the nature of where
canals are, barge cruises tend to be mostly in France,
you can do some in England, you can do some in Scotland, some in Ireland and
there are a few in the Holland and Belgium area. There’s much less
choice of places you can go to. Unlike River Cruises where there are a
multitude of providers, there are many many different cruise lines offering
River Cruises, barges is much less so. For example, there are only about three
or four key providers of barge cruises around Europe. CroisiEurope is
one of them, for example, who focus on France. Also once you’re
on board, there is less choice because (obviously) the boats themselves
are much smaller. If you take, for example, the Deborah barge there were
obviously the cabins, then on the main level you had a dining room, a
small bar area and a lounge area, then outside there was an open
seating area where we could eat or relax and a hot tub. There’s
also an upper level Sun Deck on many barge cruises. The Sun Deck
level is closed when you’re cruising because the level of the bridges is
quite low, so it you can’t be out on top deck. On many barge cruises
if you’re heading along canals you can only use the Sun Deck when you’re docked.
A lot of our cruise took place on the river, because the water level was very
low in the canal, so we actually went on the Yonne and the Seine River, and
the top deck was available much more often when we were cruising. You’re
not going to find things like fitness centres, work out rooms, alternative dining
venues, swimming pools or any of that kind of stuff that you might find on modern
river cruise ships. You’re will have less choice.
Another key area where you are going to have less choice is when it comes to dining.
On River Cruises you’re often find large menus with lots of choice, with
multiple starters, main courses and desserts. On barge cruising, you tend to have a set
menu. So, again let me give an example on my cruise, breakfast was a buffet
breakfast. The usual things: pastries, fruit yogurt.
The lunches were a set menu and a four-course menu. The food was very good and gourmet like with a starter, a main course, a cheese
course and then a dessert course. It was a set menu with one starter,
one main course, two cheeses and one dessert. If you had dietary issues they would cater for them if you’d arranged with the cruise line and
chef once on board. The evening meal was also
a set menu with a starter, a main course and a dessert.
Unlike on river cruising, on a barge you have very good food, very high
quality gourmet cooking but you don’t have a
choice. On many of the cruises you’ll find it’s very specific to the region, so
on a French barge cruise you’ll get lots of classic French dishes. Another
area where you’re going to have less choice is when it comes to excursions.
Excursions will be included and every day you’ll have one excursion but there
won’t be a choice of excursions. Everyone will do that one excursion. Of course on
rivers they often a choice of excursions. They might have
more active ones through to more relaxing and calming walking tours. On a
barge cruise you will have an excursion every day but not a choice of excursions,
but if that doesn’t bother you and you’re drawn to the pace, the experience
and you want to have good food , know you’re going to see the sights , where you’re going to
be able to relax and not seeking lots of choice, then
definitely then a barge is something worth looking at. Another key
consideration is if you’re not bothered about your cabin being more of a
functional place. On a river cruise you can get pretty big cabins, you can get
Suites, you can get cabins with balconies and a cabin can become a place where you
can retreat to and you might want to spend time relaxing in. On a barge that’s
very different. The cabin is a more practical place. For example, on
Deborah it had two single beds, quite a lot of storage, a little seating area and
then it had an ensuite bathroom with a shower. It’s a pretty small compact
space and it’s not the sort of place that you’re going to spend a lot of time
relaxing and chilling out in. You can spend that more in the
public areas. It’s already a place to retreat to because it’s a smaller more
compact space, and it’s a more functional space.
If you’re not that bothered about having a bedroom that you want to
spend time in or a private balcony you want to spend time on, a
barge is definitely something to think about. I had a great time on my barge
cruise and it really opened my eyes to an alternative and different way of
traveling. It’s definitely something I am going to do much more of. I like river
cruising and I’ll really liked barge cruising. If you’re interested in going
on a barge cruise or even a river cruise I have many more videos about barge and
river cruising and of course ocean cruising too ,so why don’t you watch
another one of those right now?

35 thoughts on “5 Times A European Hotel Barge Cruise Is Better Than A River Cruise

  1. Seems like a very unique and interesting experience. Never knew about this option, thank you for another great video.

  2. I cannot wait to do this. I am a life long boater, cruise lover here in the States and this type of trip through canals in France speaks to me. Thank you and that barge is beautiful. Course the Deborah and I share the same name soo…😉

  3. Wow – I thought barge cruising was more rustic – helping the boat to get through locks, etc. This is quite upscale.

  4. Hi Gary what kind of price are these Barge Holidays and where do you book them.Are they easy to get to the area they are in.Looks like you had a verry relaxing cruise verry peacefull I like it.

  5. I have been watching a lot of different videos on cruise tips lately and I want to let you know that I keep coming back to your channel over all others. Your videos are always well organized, have great photos, and you provide a whole lot of information on topics that most channels don’t even mention. You are also very well spoken and I am always happy to get notified of a new video to watch. Thank you for all of the work you put into your channel!

  6. Aww, now I am hoocked to your vids!!! Best wishes from Uruguay! Could you tell me which companies are making barge cruises??Thanks a lot!

  7. I did not know this option existed. I will have to look into it for our next holiday.
    Do you think you could cover cruising in Vietnam. The Mekong, Ha Long Bay and any other areas. I would love your opinion on these places. Thanks for the great info in this video.

  8. Really like your videos. I've been looking into Croisi Europe but concerned about smoking on such a small vessel. As an asthmatic I have to be careful with cigarette smoke. Do they allow smoking on their boats?

  9. If you’re interested, a tip for the next summer season is the 6 day barge cruise in Sweden between Gothenburg and Stockholm on the M/S Diana, Göta Kanal.

  10. A different but related type of cruise is narrowboating in Britain. Though there are "Hotel" boats most folks "hire" a boat. In Britain a hire boat is like a bare boat charter in the US. You handle the boat yourself, and you and your crew handle the locks and bridges as well. The speed limit is 4mph so it's not rushed. Handling your own boat sounds scary, but it really isn't. We've done it 5 times now. My wife is somewhat mobility restricted so she's the one handling the boat through all the locks, while I operate the locks themselves. Excursions? Whenever and wherever you want for as long as you want.

  11. A better cruise is to rent a U-drive it yourself boat from leBoat or one of the many boat hire companies. The cost for a week is only around $3,000. No experience necessary and two people can easily manage the boat thru the locks which I have done on several trips though more hands on deck would be an advantage.

    My favorite canal is the Marne canal Hesse-Saverne-Hesse. It is so interesting it is worth seeing both ways. While leBoat does not list that particular itinerary, just ask for a seven day rental originating Hesse and returning to Hesse.

    But, if a barge is of interest, the Madeleine out of Strasbourg covers the same portion of the canal and it looked pretty comfortable.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge I love this peaceful slower smaller spots simpler thank you

  13. Well, this is an interesting option… I must investigate this further. Thanks, Gary!!!

  14. what desinations? are barges extremely expensive compared to bus, train, river cruises? given less people, cost. i take it your excursions are included, is airfare ever included or available at discount?

  15. Interesting… I wonder if you can book your own barge if you are going with a large group of friends or family members?

  16. A barge cruise sounds like good value for the money. I don't particularly like large crowds so this will be a good option for me.

  17. We had not even considered one of these, so thanks so much for the introduction!

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