Bike & Barge cruises combines two popular ways of exploring Europe (cycling & river or island cruising), it allows partners of different abilities & interests to holiday together (trips are just as interesting for non-cycling partners, leisure cyclist OR enthusiasts), you unpack once & come ‘home’ each night to a wonderful meal and a comfortable cabin with your own bathroom. These cruises are rapidly becoming the thing to do in Europe appealing to the more active traveller who is over 40.
These fully inclusive cruises offer the opportunity to explore beautiful countryside and historic cities sampling traditional Belgian or German beers, regional wines and fresh cheeses, hams or local produce in the company of like-minded cyclists. These holidays are conducted in English but passengers often include a mix of different nationalities – with English, German, French or Dutch as the main languages – adding to the cultural enjoyment of the experience.
Well-maintained multi-geared bikes are provided (passengers can bring their own if they prefer) with panniers to carry your picnic lunch and camera. The cycling is fascinating and varied with free time to explore each day’s destination.
We offer different standards of barge for these cycling cruises from STANDARD to PREMIUM PLUS. This is based on our assessment of the size and age of the boat, the size and configuration of cabins (twin, split level or bunk beds) and several other factors. Of course each barge is unique as they are almost all converted from former cargo barges. As a general rule:
PREMIUM PLUS The latest or newest renovation usually a larger barge with good sized cabins with air-conditioning, twin beds (side by side on the same level – like a small hotel room), spacious dining and saloon and outside areas and a high level of meals and service (including daily cabin cleaning) from professional staff. Extras such as hair-dryers, a mini-safe, toiletries, WIFI and a limited laundry service are often included on PREMIUM PLUS barges only.
PREMIUM Similar to the above but sometimes a smaller barge and smaller cabins again usually with twin beds side by side or occasionally in a L-shape configuration and mostly with air-conditioning in the public areas and some in the cabins.
STANDARD PLUS Old style of barge usually with a recent renovation, smaller cabins but with bunk or split level beds sometimes air-conditioned and with heating.
STANDARD Older style often smaller barge (ideal for the smaller locks on French waterways not generally accessible to Dutch barges), small cabins with bunk beds (usually one on top of the other with a small step or ladder) with air-conditioning in some areas and heating in cabins.
ALL our barges have clean and comfortable well-designed cabins with their own shower/toilet (not shared facilities) with towels, bed linen supplied. All have space to store/hang clothes and baggage (large suitcases are discouraged – usually because there are stairways and deck areas to negotiate to get to the cabins – but they can be accommodated often under beds). All the cabins have windows or portholes, reading lights and power points (bring your own adaptor).
All the barges provide good and varied meals and they can accommodate special diets (such as vegetarian). Specialised meals such as gluten-free may be available at an extra cost on some barges (ask for details). Breakfast is usually a buffet with fresh breads, meats, cheeses, tea/coffee, jams etc sometimes with cereals, milk and boiled eggs. On most barges you take a picnic lunch from the breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, chocolate bars or biscuits, soft drinks/water (bags and panniers are provided).
Helmets, water bottles and wet-weather clothing are generally not provided.
A suggested typical day will include a buffet breakfast, briefing on the route & bike check, 2-3 hours of leisurely or moderate cycling (most rides are along sealed tow-paths, back-roads or trails through river valleys or beside canals or perhaps along a rugged coastline), picnic lunch with some sightseeing, a further 2-3 hours (as the boat goes ahead to the next overnight stay) then afternoon tea, a shower or swim, a 3-course dinner followed by a city walk, canal boat sightseeing or a stroll for coffee or night-life in a historic square.