Barging affords clients with 'up-close and personal' Europe

DIJON, France -- There's another way to see the waterways of Europe up-close and personal -- barging.

Barging along countryside canals and rivers is somewhat different than a river cruise-ship experience.

The ships are tiny, perhaps with 24 or fewer passengers aboard. It's a slow boat, and while comfortable, the converted barges are not as luxurious as their larger, more formal river-cruising cousins.

However, said Guy Bardet, chief executive officer of Continental Waterways, their atmosphere is more congenial. "It's more relaxed than on the river cruise," he said. "It appeals to a slightly younger crowd."

Barge cruises are more active, Bardet noted; passengers can hop on and off a ship at canal locks and bike or walk alongside.

"Because we have bicycles on board, the crew will give you a map and tell you what there is to discover in the immediate surroundings," he said. "We have more flexiibility."

Continental Waterways cruises start around $1,990 for cruises in the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France, or for tulip cruises in Holland.

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