European Waterways was founded in 1977 by Derek Banks. He grew up in England on the River Thames, and slowly fell in love with rivers. In the early 1970’s he moved to a lock house in central France and ultimately ended up starting the company. Originally the focus was on the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, but as the line grew, itineraries were added all over Europe.
How Many Passengers: From 6 to 20 passengers.
Personality: Almost every river ship in European Waterways’ fleet is an old trading barge elegantly transformed into a boutique hotel-type luxury vessel. Therefore, each one is somewhat unique and rather small with a bit of country charm. They feature traditional and antique decor, wood paneling, and a friendly and accommodating crew.
Fellow Passengers: Most guests are from North America and Europe and are well-traveled, well-educated, and are around 50+ years in age. There aren’t any amenities in place for kids on regular cruises, but families can charter a voyage and there will be cribs, high chairs, and toys available for them.
Cabins: Feature opening portholes or windows, lots of storage, and central heating. Most barges also include central air conditioning. Each year, every vessel in the fleet is refurbished, whether it just be small cosmetic updates or whole room and public space reconfigurations.
Dining Experience: A lot of French and international cuisine is offered onboard. Each morning, a crew members visits a local bakery for fresh bread, croissants, and pastries which are available with fresh fruit for breakfast. Lunch is light fare like sandwiches and salads, and dinner is the main affair; served by candlelight. The chef uses fresh, local ingredients and herbs grown right onboard for flavorful, regional and internationally-inspired dishes.
Amenities: A library, some ships have a hot tub on the deck, wifi, and a telescope for late-night star gazing, exercise equipment, a saloon, and bicycles that guests can use while in port.
Best For: Older couples, well-traveled guests, families who wish to charter an entire barge for a relaxing voyage.
Included Alcohol: Wine and liquor – European Waterways barges include a complimentary open bar.
Where They Go: Burgundy, Canal du Midi, Alsace & Lorraine, Loire Valley, Gascony, Bordeaux, Champagne, Paris, Picardy, Belgium, Germany & Luxembourg, Holland, Italy, Scotland, England, and Ireland.
Contributor: Sarah Bretz