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The canals and waterways of Europe used to be busy with barges carrying cargo. Now they are busy with barges and cabin cruisers carrying passengers. In these vessels you can meander along the waterways, visit villages or vineyards, walk or bike into the countryside, and get to know the people and culture first hand. You can cruise this way in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Holland, France, Germany, and even in the United States.

Kinds of Barges and Self-Drives Available:
Barges usually carry 6 to 8 people, although some are larger, and you book them as a group. They almost always come with captain and crew, but a few you can skipper yourself. Usually meals and wine are provided, but some barges, at lower cost, have the option for you to eat in village restaurants along the way.
Hotel barges are usually larger and allow you to book as an individual or couple and travel with others who have also booked as individuals. There is always a captain an crew and meals are furnished.
Narrowboats are usually found in England, where the waterways and locks are more narrow, and there are a few in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. They are almost always for you to skipper yourself.
Self-drive cruisers are cabin cruisers which you skipper yourself. There is also a penichette, that has an appearance half-way between a barge and a cabin cruiser.

Information on Barges and Self-Drives:

  • These boats usually go on canals, but they can also go on rivers.
  • Lowest rates are during March, April, and October.
  • They are usually 16 ft. wide or less, to be able to go through the frequent canal locks.
  • They go slowly -- at only 3 to 10 knots -- so the miles travelled are few.
  • Some have bicycles furnished or available at an extra charge, so you can bicycle along towpaths or explore local villages and markets.
  • On crewed boats (but not on self-drives) there often are shore excursions offered each day by bus or van to see local points of interest, such as vineyards, flower markets, ruins, gardens. On a self-drive you arrange excursions yourself based on maps and guidebooks furnished to you.
For further information and descriptions of vessels and itineraries, click on the following.

North America



For bigger boats (more passengers, large rivers, longer distances), see RIVER BOATS



hotel barge Anjodi has a unique 1,000 mile, 6-week adventure along the canals and rivers of Europe from Avignon in Provence to Amsterdam in Holland. The cruise takes in Lyon, Paris and Cologne, rivers such as the Rhone, Seine and Rhine, and smaller waterways such as the Canal de Bourgogne.
The trip focusses on regional cuisine and wines of Provence, Beaujolais, Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace and the Moselle and Rhine valleys and on the history of regions held by the French Resistance and areas liberated by Allied Forces in World War II. The barge has four air-conditioned staterooms, and has a Captain, chef, hostess and tour guide, with a private air-conditioned mini-bus taking passengers on excursions. 


Click on covers to order these books about barging:



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Small Ship Cruises
   We work with several agencies and tour operators who are experts in small ships.

  For them to make a reservation for you, fill out the  Cruise Request Form.

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