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With Europe poised to reopen borders to visitors as the number of vaccinated travelers increase worldwide, luxury hotel barge cruising specialist European Waterways is finding itself in the spotlight once again, with travelers attracted to the slow paced, immersive experience of canal cruising. The company provides uniquely relaxing, leisurely cruises aboard its luxury vessels that allow guests, in the words of Managing Director Derek Banks, “to linger and enjoy the moment.” They can savor the cuisine and explore the picturesque villages, vineyards, castles and aristocratic estates of the European countryside at a comfortable pace, without the feeling of being rushed.

“After being homebound for more than a year, our guests simply want to get out into the world again, breathe in the fresh air, stretch their legs, and soak in the local culture, history and rustic beauty of their destinations,” Banks says. “Our daily excursions are never run on the clock. If they want to, our guests can spend hours wandering about the quaint, narrow streets of a charming small town or the lush grounds of a grand estate. They can enjoy unhurried, private tours to observe artisans at work or visit wineries and distilleries, learning about their ancient crafts and savoring the results.”

Taking in the View
Most European Waterways hotel barges hold no more than 12 passengers, so on-board or on an excursion, guests are never “lost in the crowd.” There is also no such thing as the “open sea” on a cruise. The vessels navigate the narrow canals and small rivers that are inaccessible to larger ships, and they’re seldom more than a few feet from shore. They cruise at approximately three miles-per-hour, covering only about 70 miles during the entire six-night journey. Guests can hop off at many convenient opportunities to walk or cycle along the gentle towpaths or explore nearby villages and re-join the boat farther down the canal. Or they can just sit back and relax on-deck, watching the world go by.

And the view from on-board never disappoints. It can include wide expanses of lush green countryside, vineyards, castles, rugged mountain scenery, marshes teaming with waterfowl, and even wild horses, depending on the cruise region. Sometimes the vessels will glide past sleepy villages that appear straight out of a fairy tale. From July through October, for example, guests on European Waterways’ classic cruise aboard Panache in Alsace & Lorraine will discovers Lutzelbourg, a village famous for its castles, half-timbered houses and crystal workshops. The vessel moors in a quiet corner of the village that is surrounded by forested slopes and overlooked by the ruins of a medieval hill-top fortress.

“European Waterways’ cruises truly are about the journey and not the destination,” says Banks. “In addition to daily guided excursions into the heart of the cruise regions, our guests enjoy fabulous gourmet meals together and revel in the lost art of friendship and conviviality. Some of our guests may arrive as strangers but, traveling with such a small group of like-minded companions, everyone soon becomes friends. They end their nights in the saloon regaling each other with stories of their lives, on the deck taking in the cool evening air, sipping a glass of wine, or just relaxing and cherishing the moment.”

10% Off Charters and Cabins
European Waterways is currently offering 10% off on whole-boat charters and 10% off on cabins. With the specials, cabin prices start at $4,095 per person, based on double occupancy. Whole boat charters start at $31,950. Prices are all-inclusive and include all meals on-board and amenities such as the use of bicycles, a wide selection of local wines and an open bar stocked with the finest liquor. They also include all excursions on the itinerary and chauffeured transfers to and from the barge from a designated pick-up point. Specials are valid for select departures and when booked by June 28, 2021. More information is available at www.europeanwaterways.com

Book With Confidence
European Waterways’ “Book with Confidence” policy provides 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