Archives : 2014 : April

Enjoy the Green Beauty of Ireland on a River Barge Cruise

April 24th, 2014

Did you know that May and June are the sunniest months in Ireland? Those months would be a great time to explore Ireland by taking one of our river barge cruises on the Lower Shannon River.

Experiencing the Beauty of Ireland on a Barge Cruise

Shannon Princess in Ireland

Shannon Princess cruises the Shannon River in Ireland

Why cruise the Shannon River in Ireland aboard our grand hotel barge? In addition to the luxurious dining and accommodations, there is all the beauty of Ireland to explore. From ancient archaeological sites to modern, bustling towns, you will experience the stunning scenery of Irish islands, lochs, and green countryside from the comfort of your floating hotel. Binoculars are available so you can enjoy the flora and fauna along the lush “Callow” landscape, rich with wildlife, through which you will be passing. With daily excursions in a comfortable coach, you will take a private tour of haunted Leap Castle with its eccentric owner, enjoy a Guinness and oyster lunch, and explore the Clonmacnoise sixth century monastic ruins. Other tour highlights include Birr Castle with its landscaped gardens, shopping for local crafts and gifts, and experiencing the Craggaunowen Iron Age Life Re-Creation Project.

6th century Clonmacnoise ruins in Ireland

Clonmacnoise 6th century monastic ruins

Why cruise on the barge Shannon Princess? In addition to a full-length upper sundeck, the Shannon Princess has a spacious open salon and dining room with panoramic views out its large observation windows. Meals are crafted by the Ballmaloe School trained master chef, with highlights such as roast shoulder of lamb and black velvet crepes. All meals, including wines, local cheeses, and other delicacies, are included in the price. Carpeted throughout, the Shannon Princess accommodates up to ten passengers in spacious cabins with ensuite bathrooms and newly tiled large showers. The cabins also have picture windows and individual heat controls for those inevitable cloudy days. Bicycles are available upon request.

Interested in golf, walking tours, artisan visits or family cruises? Shannon Princess is happy to customize a cruise for your charter group with special interests.

Are you ready to experience Ireland at its finest? Contact us today to learn more about cruising on a deluxe river barge along the Shannon River.

We’re ready to help when you’re ready to go barging. Happy travels,

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988


France During Easter: Six Traditions to Enjoy

April 20th, 2014

If you go barge cruising in France during Easter (called Pâques in French), you may experience some of the country’s unique Easter traditions.  Along with Christmas, Easter is a major holiday for many French people, who imbue it with their own customs and festivities.  What are you likely to encounter when visiting France during Easter time?

Take part in French Easter traditions

Easter in France and Europe during a barge vacation

Chocolate Easter eggs originated in Europe back in the 16th century

1) Church bells bearing chocolates from Rome. Typically from Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) to Easter morning, church bells are silent in France.  The fanciful explanation given is that the bells have departed from each steeple and have gone to Rome. When they return on Easter morning, they’ll bring chocolates with them and drop them around for children to find. Then they’ll start ringing again.

2) Easter processions.  Many towns will have processions in the week leading up to Easter Day. These processions may take place by torchlight. They often involve singing and dancing in costume or church garb. In some places, particularly Alsace, you may also see passion plays.

3) Raw egg games.  People, usually children, will toss raw eggs in the air and try to catch them without letting them break. In another version, eggs are rolled down a hill or a slope, and the winners are the ones whose eggs don’t break. These games can be played to earn more chocolate and other candies.

4) Easter feasting.  On Easter Day, the main meal usually has lamb and lots of fresh vegetables; dishes that make heavy use of eggs, such as omelets or quiches, are also popular. A rich, cake-like bread (called La Gâche de Pâques) is also served. Being France, the sweet foods of the season can’t be missed. These include Easter chocolates, formed as eggs or other shapes; the fine chocolatiers around the country will craft eggs that look like works of art. If you love chocolate, Easter in France will expose you to irresistible selections.

5) Celebration of the Giant Omelette.  On Easter Monday, omelets are especially popular fare, and one town – Bessières, in Southern France – is famous for its tradition of making an enormous omelet publicly in a giant pan; the omelet is then handed out to townspeople. Known as La Fête de l’Omelette Géante, this tradition has also been replicated in some other places.

6) Easter decorations.  Decorations are popular in France, most notably in Alsace.  Flowers, painted eggs, and figurines displayed in windows are common.  Children may also construct nests to lay out in their gardens in the hopes that they will be filled with chocolate eggs.

France is gorgeous in the springtime, and if you come during Easter (which in 2014 falls on April 20th), you’ll get to experience an extra-festive atmosphere.

Happy Easter!

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988