If you’re a fan of river cruising and slow travel, you’ll love the latest travel-by-water trend to resurface: canal barges. Smaller than river cruise ships and often carrying just two passengers (though some can carry as many as 20), canal barges are all about exploring small towns and European villages along the waterways. And while the concept is far from new, canal barge cruising is getting a facelift — and a fast-track ticket into the travel zeitgeist — in 2022, when Abercrombie & Kent launches luxury canal barge cruises in Europe.
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Abercrombie & Kent’s take on canal barging taps into travelers’ interest in slowing down and taking in quieter, European destinations outside of the major cities . That’s why their canal barges will sail through the Loire Valley and the canals of Burgundy and Champagne. Beyond France, these barges will also take travelers on luxe adventures in Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, and Scotland. Instead of road tripping, and constantly bouncing to new hotel rooms, canal barge cruising gives you a consistent home base as you travel through under-the-radar villages and dock right outside must-visit pubs, wineries, and restaurants.
In terms of what you’ll get on the A & K canal barges when they launch next year, here’s the rundown. These barges come with gourmet meals, prepared by onboard chefs who source local ingredients as much as possible. They’ll curate wine pairings for lunch and dinner, and all food and beverage are included in the trips. Any entry fees to local attractions are also covered in your charter costs.
Bargers (yes, that’s the term we’re going with) can charter the entire vessel; For example, traveling in Strasbourg’s Roi Soleil along the Canal du Midi requires a six-person barge and charters start at $33,900 for seven days. On a more grandiose scale, you can charter a 20-guest canal barge in Venice starting at $79,000 for seven days. However, you don’t have to rent out an entire barge — travelers can instead book on an intimate, curated trip instead. There are options to sail the Burgundy canal with only 11 other guests for $5,590 per person.