European Waterways, Europe’s largest luxury hotel barging company, reports strong advanced bookings for their 2016 season, with charters among the popular options. To generate interest in one of its newer cruising areas, the Alsace and Lorraine region of Eastern France, the company is offering up to AU$4,045 (€2,650) off whole boat charters for select August 2016 departures on the Panache.
Managing Director, Derek Banks, attributes the growth in bookings to an increasing awareness of hotel barge cruising and the growing market for multi-generational family and group travel.
“The more travellers learn about hotel barge cruising, the more they want to experience it. Families appreciate the unique and exclusive setting to enjoy quality time together, while groups enjoy sharing the leisurely cruises with friends,” said Banks. “Chartering the entire boat allows our guests to modify the itinerary to reflect their particular interests in the regions, ensuring everyone on board has the best time possible.”
Elevating Experiences On Board Panache
The 12-passenger Panache is staffed with a crew of six, which includes a master chef, deck hand, tour guide and two housekeepers – all led by a highly experienced captain. From mid-June through October, the stylish hotel barge cruises the Canal de la Marne au Rhin through an area famous for its unique blend of French and German influences, strongly evident in its customs, cuisine, wines and architecture.
A major highlight of the cruise is a ride on the Arzviller boat elevator, a marvel of engineering that carries the hotel barge and her passengers 450 feet up the Vosges Mountains. Other cruise highlights include a tour of the culturally-rich city of Strasbourg, the region’s capital and principal city. There, guests tour the 12th century Gothic pink sandstone cathedral, considered one of the three grandest Gothic style buildings in the world and called by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo a “gigantic and delicate marvel”. Panache also docks at Saverne, where guests enjoy a tour of the Lalique Museum, home to more than 500 exceptional pieces of glassware by French designer René Lalique, considered a genius of the craft.
An introduction to the various wines of the region is also part of the cruise, both at the dinner table on board and at local vineyards, such as Domaine Pfister, where guests enjoy private tastings. Every meal is an adventure into the regional cuisine, with authentic dishes expertly-prepared and presented by the on board master chef. Guests can also tour and have private tastings at the Meteor Brewery, the last privately-owned brewery in the region.
“Our hotel barges all offer their own, unique cruise experiences. The Alsace and Lorraine region of France is an excellent example of this,” said Banks. “Guests will be treated to fascinating tours and see storybook villages, all while savouring the culinary specialties and wonderful wines of the region.”
The Panache features spacious public areas with a large sun deck and a spa pool. Panoramic windows in the saloon ensure that guests never miss the beautiful scenery. With the local knowledge of the pampering crew, the numerous chauffeur-driven private excursions and the 12 bikes on deck, guests can explore the areas they cruise in as much detail as they wish.