French Country Waterways is based in Massachusetts, but exclusively sails the canals of France. The family-owned company operates their own fleet of five hotel barges. Voyages focus on experiences that guests can have ashore.
How Many Passengers: From 8 to 18 passengers.
Personality: These hotel barges have been modeled to resemble small country house hotels. They have a classic feel with warm wood paneling, rich colors, and plush carpeting, and are a great place to unplug as there is no television, radio, phone, or internet available onboard. Crew is warm and friendly; willing to do anything to make guests feel at home and taken care of.
Fellow Passengers: The cruise line primarily markets themselves to Americans and Canadians in the 50+ age range. Guests are often well-traveled, and hold a deep interest in France and its unique regions. Unless families charter an entire ship, it’s not a line suitable for kids.
Cabins: Some ships feature all suites, some have regular staterooms and suites. They are a continuation of the country house feel, with a French provincial style. Windows are small portholes, and since the cabins don’t have any electronics it’s a quiet atmosphere. Like the rest of the ships, they feature rich colors and classic details, and include air conditioning.
Dining Experience: Each morning a member of the crew, sometimes the captain, will head to the local bakery for fresh breads and pastries for breakfast along with cheese, cold cuts, cereal, and fruit. The onboard chef uses fresh, local food for the other meals, too. Lunch is a buffet and is often served on the outside deck, and dinner is a set menu of four courses each night. The line has limited capabilities when it comes to food allergies and preferences, so guests are advised to let them know ahead of time if there are special requirements.
Amenities: French Country Waterways’ focus is heavily on shore excursions and activities. Guests can use the bicycles stored onboard to explore the towns the ship stops in, and the captain of the vessel will also arrange special activities and meals for guests on the shore. There is also a tour guide onboard that will take guests around each port. On the barge, there’s a main salon with small library area, and a bar where, if no crew member is present to serve drinks, guests are encouraged to help themselves.
Best For: Older couples, guests who have a great interest in France and its culture, English-speaking individuals, and well-traveled guests.
Included Alcohol: Wine from all of France’s major regions is offered onboard.
Where They Go: Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy, Champagne, and the Upper Loire – all in France.