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5 Ways to Save Money on French and European Barge Cruises

November 20th, 2016

It’s true that canal barge cruises carrying 4-20 passengers can be more expensive than ocean cruises and some river cruises, but there are ways to save money without sacrificing one tiny bit of quality.

6-passenger barge Magnolia in Southern Burgundy

6-passenger barge Magnolia in Southern Burgundy

1. Book your barge cruise early

Most barges will honor the current year’s prices for the next year if bookings are confirmed with deposit early. For example, if you want to go barging in 2018, book your cruise in early spring of 2017. Remember that September is the most popular month for barging, so book even earlier if that is your preferred time.

2. Book your barge cruise late

If you can make plans 2-3 months prior to travel, we often have special offers with 10-20% discount for cabin or charter bookings. It’s all subject to availability at the discretion of the barge owner. Special offers apply only to new bookings and are not retroactive for bookings already confirmed. For example, take a look at spring special offers the winter before travel.

3. Charter the entire barge with friends or family

There are two types of barges:

  1. Charter barges for your own private group.
  2. Hotel barges where you can book cabins with other passengers on board.

All hotel barges are available for private charter, but not all charter barges accept cabin bookings. Typically, chartering the entire barge results in a lower price per person. For example, the 6-passenger Emma on the Canal du Midi can be chartered for $30,000 ($5000 per person), but booking an individual cabin is $5500 per person double occupancy.

4. Cruise during value season

Many barges offer value and regular season prices with value season being April, sometimes May, mid-July to mid-August and the last two weeks of October. For example, check out the 2017 rates for 12-passenger Luciole which has a lengthy value season at $4550 per person for cabin bookings rather than $4950 for regular season. It has single cabins, too, with no single supplement making this a great opportunity for solo travelers.

5. Half board cruises with some meals on shore at guests’ expense are considerably more affordable

For those who enjoy a variety of dining experiences, consider a half-board charter cruise for your group of 4-6. Independently owned and operated, the barge owners can offer a flexible meal plan which reduces the price. For example, the 6-passenger Magnolia in Southern Burgundy is very affordable at $18,400 half board for 6 ($3067 per person) rather than $23,650 full board for 6 ($3942 per person). The half board plan includes all meals except 4 meals on shore at guests’ expense. Excursions, open bar and everything else in a full board cruise are still included.

Want help navigating the barges to find the best cruise for your interests and budget? Contact us whenever you’re ready. We’re always ready to help.

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Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988

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Affordable Half Board Barge Cruises are Great for Foodies

August 29th, 2016

For the adventurous traveler who enjoys trying different restaurants and also wants the experience of dining on board their barge cruise, here is a great solution.

Often called a “half board” cruise, there are several barges which offer flexible meals plans to enable a wide variety of dining experiences. It also makes the price more affordable than the usual “all-inclusive” barge cruise. Let’s take a look at some of your options.

Savoir Vivre in Southern Burgundy

Children and Family Barge C

Savoir Vivre, an 8-passenger barge, is a favorite with breakfast and lunch on board catered by a local chef. Dinners are taken on shore in a different restaurant each night, all included in the price. This compact barge is very comfortable and highly regarded because of the fabulous crew led by French Captain Richard. Cabin or charter bookings welcome. Individual cabins or private charters available.

Magnolia in Southern Burgundy

Fun and delicious "a la plancha" grilled lunch on the deck of Magnolia

Magnolia, a 6-passenger barge, is ideal for charters of friends or family wanting a true French experience. Captain Nicolas and Tour Guide Magali are native Burgundians who love showing guests their unique style of barge cruising, complete with dinner at Magali’s parents’ farm. The half-board cruise includes all meals except 4 meals on shore at guests’ expense. Come aboard an enjoy the hot tub and “la plancha” deck top grill. Charter only.

Randle on the Nivernais Canal in Northern Burgundy

Charming 4-passenger Randle cruises the Nivernais Canal and Northern Burgundy

Randle, a 4-passenger barge, is a floating family vacation home with a double cabin and a cabin with bunk beds for the kids or agile adults. The passenger friendly wheelhouse with large dining table is great for watching the world float by. The half board cruise provides breakfast and lunch with all dinners on shore at guests’ expense. Charter only.

Caroline on the Canal du Midi

Caroline is a warm and welcoming 6-passenger barge on the Canal du Midi

Caroline, a 6-passenger barge, offers all meals except 2-3 meals on shore at guests’ expense. This is an affordable option for friends and family alike with 1 double cabin with ensuite bath and 2 twin cabins with private baths across the hall. Captain Uli and Chef Ute love sharing their barge with easygoing guests who love food, wine and local history. Individual cabins or private charters available.

Esperance  and Alegria on the Canal du Midi

The deluxe 6-passenger Esperance on the Canal du Midi delights in beautiful table settings and gourmet meals


Esperance, a 6-passenger barge, and Alegria, a 4-passenger barge, are the most deluxe of the barges offering half board cruises. This is a great way to cruise on beautiful barges with spacious accommodations making this the best of dining on board and on shore. Esperance provides all meals except 4 dinners on shore and Alegria offers a half board cruise upon request. Both owner-operated with excellent crews, we consistently receive rave reviews. Charter only.

Saraphina on the Canal du Midi

Meet the creative and whimsical 4-passenger barge Saraphina on the Canal du Midi

Saraphina, a 4-passenger barge, is new to our fleet with experienced owners Captain Finnegan and Emily bringing their skill and hospitable personalities into their creative and artistic barge. All breakfasts and dinners are included with lunches taken onshore at guests’ expense. Charter only.

Ready to go barging? It would be our pleasure to help you select and book just the right barge cruise for your interests and budget.

Related Articles

What is an all-inclusive barge cruise?
5 ways to save money on barge cruises in France and Europe

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988