6 myths about barge cruising
Updated: Apr 4
1. Barge cruises are super expensive
Let’s be honest it’s a well-known fact that boats are expensive...and as barges only carry a handful of guests on each trip, your contribution to the annual maintenance costs, diesel costs etc. is always going to be higher than on a bigger boat carrying 100+ guests.
But that being said barging doesn’t have to cost the earth – yes many hotel barges charge over €4,500 per person for a week’s cruise (and if you go for top end luxury, prices climb to over €7000) - but we are aiming to offer barging without the luxury price tag. Whilst you won’t find designer interiors, marble clad bathrooms or your own personal chef onboard Serenity, we promise to deliver you an exceptional holiday afloat. And with prices from €2,500 per person for an all-inclusive 6 night cruise, we're the best value you'll find on the French canals.
2. Barge cruises are 6 nights long and depart on Sundays
True this is the industry norm but Serenity is breaking the mould! We understand that a shorter trip can allow you to experience barge cruising on a lower budget – in fact we even offer a 2 day ‘Taste of Champagne’ mini-cruise. And from talking to our guests, we know lots of you are booking a cruise as part of a longer European trip with several organized tours, so if you’re chartering the barge you can depart any day of the week, to fit in with your other plans.
But if you can flexible on dates then our recommended departure day is Wednesday. There’s a couple of reasons – a) it puts us in a convenient location for some excursions that can only happen on a specific day (eg the big Saturday morning food market or the candlelight evening at Chateau Vaux Le Vicomte) and b) it puts us off schedule with other hotel boats here, meaning we don’t have to compete for our favorite mooring spots.
3. You have to book the whole barge
Lots of barges don’t offer individual cabins, mainly because selling just one cabin doesn’t cover the fixed costs of the cruise (eg. crew salary, vehicle costs, diesel etc). However we know that lots of you would love to cruise but don’t have a ready-made group of friends or family to travel with - so we've decided to offer individually bookable cabins throughout the summer. On these 'cabin cruises' you'll be sharing the barge with up to 4 other people and they best suit social travelers who enjoy mixing with their fellow cruisers.
Booking early is a good idea, as the first people to book get to choose the daily excursion options. And because your cruise departure is guaranteed when we receive your deposit, if no-one else books for that week you'll get a private cruise for two, like one lucky couple from California did in 2019.
4. All-inclusive means you eat onboard for every meal
We passionately believe that eating in local restaurants is the only way to really experience French cuisine. So you'll have breakfast and lunch on the barge, but most evenings you'll enjoy dinner at one of our favourite restaurants - ranging from a traditional brasserie popular with locals to innovative fine dining and a Michelin starred restaurant. At each restaurant the three course menu is included in your cruise price, or if something on the a la carte takes your fancy we will pay the equivalent value.
And rather than the team onboard always deciding the menu, when we visit the weekly food market you'll get to choose what to try for lunch from an array of mouthwatering cheeses, hams and pates. Though if you are anything like me, on our stop for an afternoon treat at an artisan patisserie you might have trouble deciding what to try!
5. Barging is for oldies!
Well I'm still (just) in my thirties and love barging enough to have made a life of it! Yes, it's true that cruise's typically attract an older demographic but with just six guests and a completely bespoke itinerary, we can tailor a trip to suit anyone.
Infact a barge cruise is ideal for multi-generational holidays because everyone can be as active or inactive as they like! We welcome children aboard (as part of a charter group) and can offer a range of excursions that will appeal to younger members of the group such as riding Segways through the vineyards, an adventure park with ziplines and high rope courses through the trees and a chocolate making workshop. And with the towpath alongside the canal and the ability to hop on and off the barge at the frequent locks there's plenty of opportunity for kids to burn off some energy!
6. Barges only cruise on the canal
Whilst Serenity was designed for canal cruising (being the exact maximum dimensions to fit in a lock), she is equally at home on the river - in fact in 2008 she even crossed the English Channel to London and back! Our champagne route includes cruising on both the Marne river and the man-made canal, meaning you get to experience a wider range of landscapes.
If you're thinking about cruising you might also enjoy:
- Choosing when to cruise, a month by month guide