Family life can be challenging, and sometimes a getaway with girlfriends — whether it’s your mom, your daughter or just a group of like-minded BFFs looking to escape the responsibilities of home for just a little while — is the perfect antidote. This year, European Waterways introduces a Girls Getaway hotel barge charter option that bundles in yoga, cooking classes and even a chocolate tour — and yes, there are walking tours to help walk off those chocolate calories.
Because these are charters, passengers can tailor the cruise to their own interests, according to Derek Banks, managing director, European Waterways.
“Today’s women travelers are more confident and independent than ever before,” Banks said. “The social nature of hotel barging makes it an ideal way to take a break with like-minded friends in a relaxing setting.”
The small size of each vessel — they can accommodate from six to 20 passengers and most offer a one-to-two crew ratio — pretty much ensures guests will enjoy great personalized service.
Let’s say you and your gal pals are into food. A culinary-themed cruise can include private cooking demonstrations, truffle hunting and visits to local attractions such as an artisan chocolatier or a Mediterranean oyster farm.
Other options include an educational tour of L’Oulibo, a factory that produces extra virgin olive oil from Lucques olives, one of the most desired and difficult olives from which to extract oil, and gastronomic excursions to local food markets, accompanied by the company’s on-board master chef, who can incorporate the culinary finds into the evening menu.
Several European Waterways barges offer culinary-themed charters, including the deluxe 12-passenger L’Impressionniste, which sails southern Burgundy on the Bourgogne canal. The cruise even includes free transfers in chauffeured minivans from Paris. For smaller groups of foodies, the eight-passenger Enchante cruises the Canal du Midi in style.
Girlfriends who enjoy bonding over a glass of wine can board the eight-passenger Rosa hotel barge, which wends through the city of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the most famous of the Bordeaux appellations. Bringing the entire book group? The 20-passenger La Bella Vita might be a better choice via a Wine Appreciation Cruise through the Veneto region of Italy. Guests can taste world-renowned vintages as they tour the sprawling Renaissance wine estates en route between Venice and Mantua.
Or maybe you’re looking to jump back into wellness after a few too many cupcakes and mojitos with the gang at home. European Waterways’ cruises offer plenty of opportunities to engage in “soft adventures,” such as walking on the gentle paths that run parallel to the canal, or starting the day with a morning yoga class on deck. The eight-passenger L’Art de Vivre hotel barge offers walking cruises in Burgundy between Auxerre and Chevroches, wending through the Burgundian countryside and medieval villages along the way.
Finally, consider tapping into your inner artist on one of the company’s art-themed cruises, which offer the services of an expert “art guide” who shows guests around craft workshops and boutiques and suggests the best painting spots. Guests can also paint on-board while enjoying a cocktail or chilled glass of Champagne.