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The European Travel Experience Most People Don’t Know About

Reader's Digest Logo By Madhvi Ramani of Reader's Digest | Slide 1 of 11: Once upon a time, barges transported goods all over Europe via an intricate network of canals. Now, these old vessels are being converted into floating boutique hotels, allowing travelers to cruise along the narrow waterways that crisscross the European countryside. Like river cruises, there is a barge cruise to suit every kind of traveler. But unlike river cruises, barge cruises are slow, traveling at an average speed of just four miles per hour, and they're hyper-local, enabling you to discover areas that bigger cruises simply cannot access. They're also much more intimate than other types of cruises since they carry a maximum of 20 guests.
And they're growing in popularity. "We're seeing a slow but steady uptick each year in bookings from barges across all price ranges, throughout all regions, and touching on all itineraries," said Stephanie Sack of Barge Lady Cruises, a family-owned booking agency that represents 50 of the roughly 75 luxury barge cruises currently available in Europe. If you're intrigued by this idea, you might be completely enamored by it once you read about the amazing options available to you.

Why you should book a barge cruise

Once upon a time, barges transported goods all over Europe via an intricate network of canals. Now, these old vessels are being converted into floating boutique hotels, allowing travelers to cruise along the narrow waterways that crisscross the European countryside. Like river cruises, there is a barge cruise to suit every kind of traveler. But unlike river cruises, barge cruises are slow, traveling at an average speed of just four miles per hour, and they're hyper-local, enabling you to discover areas that bigger cruises simply cannot access. They're also much more intimate than other types of cruises since they carry a maximum of 20 guests.

And they're growing in popularity. "We're seeing a slow but steady uptick each year in bookings from barges across all price ranges, throughout all regions, and touching on all itineraries," said Stephanie Sack of Barge Lady Cruises, a family-owned booking agency that represents 50 of the roughly 75 luxury barge cruises currently available in Europe. If you're intrigued by this idea, you might be completely enamored by it once you read about the amazing options available to you.

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