(Luxury at is finest)
Alouette - Europe
By Dan Askin, News Editor
The four-passenger Alouette was built in 1908 in Oudekerk, Netherlands and converted in a hotel barge in 1986 (the most recent refurb took place in 2008). Alouette offers cruises in Provence, France, along the 17th century Canal du Midi.
Here's what you can expect on an Alouette cruise:
- There are two cabins onboard, one 260 square feet, the other 205 square feet, both of which can be set up with two single beds or one double. Amenities include hairdryer, satellite TV and DVD player, and safe. Bathrooms are shower-only.
- Cruises include all meals with local wine, all shore excursions (guided tours to historic sites like the Carcassonne, the incredible walled medieval city), an open bar and bikes for passenger use. Optional excursions, including hot air balloon rides, canoe trips and golf, are extra.
- Public spaces include a saloon with Hi-Fi sound system, and a sun deck with loungers. The ship features air conditioning throughout.
- A four-person crew is comprised of a pilot, chef, tour guide and hostess.
Starting with a 1962-built Dutch hull, the eight-passenger Amaryllis was converted into a hotel barge in 2001. The barge offers cruises around Dijon, and on the Canal de Bourgogne and River Saone.
Here's what you can expect to find on an Amaryllis cruise:
- Like its fleetmates, Amaryllis is an all-inclusive product; wines, soft drinks, bottled water, beer, liquor and liqueurs are part of the fare. Shore excursions are also part of the package, and a VW mini-bus follows the barges route and is available at designated times for transport to daily tours. Typical excursions include a wine tasting at Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, and a tour of Chateau de Germolles, residence of the Dukes of Burgundy.
- There are four suites decorated in a traditional style, complimented by occasional tables from Li Puma of Florence. The specially designed window casings incorporate huge windows that frame the passing countryside.
- The sun deck features loungers and a small heated swimming pool. The ship also carries eight bicycles.
- The barge has a crew of 6, including the captain, two hosts, chef, tour guide and sailor.
Editor's Note: Amaryllis is only available to groups or families wishing to charter the whole barge.
Fleur de Lys Overview
The six-passenger Fleur de Lys was built in Belgium in 1941 as a freight carrying vessel. Soon after, the barge was commandeered by the German army during the Second World War. With preservation in mind, FDL underwent conversion into a passenger vessel in 1986. (Her furnishing and equipment includes items from 22 countries.) Fleur de Lys cruises on the Canal de Bourgogne in Burgundy, from Escommes to Dijon.
Here's what you can expect to find on a Fleur de Lys cruise:
- Fleur de Lys is an all-inclusive product; wines, soda, bottled water, beer and liquor are part of the fare. Shore excursions are also part of the package, and a VW mini-bus follows the barge's route and is available at designated times for transport to daily tours.
- There are three en-suite cabins featuring four-poster style beds, dressing room and tiled bathroom with a bath/shower combination or large shower.
- The sun deck features loungers and a small heated swimming pool. The ship also carries six bicycles for passenger use.
Editor's Note: Fleur de Lys is a charter-only barge and does not accept cabin bookings.
By Dan Askin, News Editor
A former Dutch cargo barge, the 1928-built Hirondelle was transformed into a hotel in 1992 (and was refurbished again in 2002). The eight-passenger Hirondelle cruises in Southern Burgundy and Franche-Comte, France, a region known for its vineyards.
Here's what you can expect on a Hirondelle cruise:
- Accommodations include four roughly 100-square-ft. cabins. Three cabins feature twin beds, and the fourth has a double. Bathrooms are shower-only, and include Occitane soap, shampoo and shower gel.
- Cruises typically include all meals with local wine (and a French cheese board), all shore excursions (a guided tour in Besancon, birthplace of Victor Hugo, for instance), an open bar and bikes for passenger use. Optional excursions, including hot air balloon rides and golf, are extra.
- Public spaces include a saloon, and a sun deck with sun loungers and hot tub. The ship features air conditioning throughout.
- The four-person crew is comprised of a skipper, chef, tour guide and hostess.-- by Dan Askin, Associate Editor
12-passenger Napoleon sails the RhÃ´ne between Arles and Tain l'Hermitage/Tournon. It was built in 1963 as a Belgian freight-carrying cargo barge before being converted into a hotel barge in 1990.
Here's what you can expect on a Napoleon river cruise:
- The six cabins are all approximately 150 square feet, give or take. Each cabin has a TV and DVD player, hair dryer, and closet and drawer space. Bathrooms are shower-only.
- Cruises include all meals with wine (and French cheese board), all shore excursions (walking tour of Van Gogh's Arles, truffle tasting, for instance), an open bar and bikes for passenger use. Optional excursions, including hot air balloon rides, are extra.
- Public spaces include a saloon with piano keyboard, Bose iPod docking station and a small DVD Player, dining area and a sun deck with sun loungers and hot tub. A largecanopy over part of the deck provides a shaded dining area and covers some sun loungers and an exercise bike.
- The six- or seven-person crew is made up of a pilot, hostess, chef, deck-hands and tour guide.
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