Cruise

Best European Cruises

by Danielle Contray

RENTING A HOUSEBOAT

People train for years to learn how to raise a mast and tighten the whatchamacallit. If you'd prefer to play skipper without the threat of shipwreck, consider renting a houseboat to ply the lazy canals and bucolic countryside of the Continent. The barges are perfect for traveling with family and friends: They're private, easy to maneuver, and (in most countries) require no special pilot permits. Abercrombie & Kent offers the Cadillac of barge rentals: fully crewed, floating palaces that can take you wine-tasting in Burgundy or château-hopping in the Loire, all for a mere $30,000 per person. If you don't want to take out a second mortgage, consider the U.K.-based Black Prince. For $2,000 a week, six of you can float through the waterways around Oxford, stopping off at pubs and gazing at the picturesque spires of the university and the grand old homes of the countryside. Or try Locaboat, which rents eco-friendly Pénichette barges—they've got bio-diesel engines and solar panels—in six European countries. A group of six can do a 10-day cruise of southern Holland for about $1,800, or $30 per person per day. That's cheaper than the hostel you stayed at back in your Eurail days—and this time you won't be bunking with unwashed postgrads. Since you'll only need to cruise for five or six hours a day to make the loop past the tulips and windmills, you'll have ample time to dock for a wheat beer, tour some castles, and sample cheeses (hello, Gouda!) along the way.

Abercrombie & Kent
Tel: 800 554 7016

Black Prince Narrowboat Holidays
Tel: 44 1527 575115

Locaboat
Tel: 31 294 23 70 79


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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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