As travelers begin to dream about their upcoming summer plans, many choose to take fun cruises to new locales throughout the world. Some prefer large ships that dock at busy ports in the middle of the action, while others may reserve a chartered sailing vessel to take them to the remote Islands of the Caribbean.
However, there is a new trend in cruising that many are opting for instead, especially the baby boomer crowd. Known as barge cruising, this type of excursion involves smaller ships that can navigate through narrow waterways, providing up-close and personal access to cities and rural areas in an intimate setting. Like a floating bed and breakfast, these ships provide the same style and lavish services offered by many bigger liners heard about in cruise news, but the smaller size of luxury barges has travelers getting to know more passengers and crew personally for a truly unique experience.
Barge cruises in Europe on the rise
Many companies that specialize in barge cruising are reporting heightened interest in their offerings, especially among those who have generous travel budgets and who may be retired with a more flexible schedule. Since the boats make frequent stops during trips, it can suit the interests of an older crowd that may want to see all the sights and stay within close range of their accommodations. Most of the ships provide catered meals, turn down services and more as well, which many cruisers like to have on board.
One locale that is often explored by barge is France. Many head south on the ships and glide down the Canal Lateral a la Garonne near Bordeaux, or visit France's oldest ship port in Sete, according to the Barge Company website.
The U.K. is another interesting destination to see by boat. Unlike with large cruises, those who take trips on barges can head right down the River Thames into the heart of London to have the best access to all the entertainment options, attractions and culinary delights. Travelers can also go to Scotland and view the landscapes of the Highlands by sailing the Caledonian Canal, or admire Irish culture and greenery with a cruise down the Shannon River in between Galway and Dublin.
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