Continental Waterways launches new hotel barges

NEW YORK -- The Dijon, France-based Continental Waterways barge fleet will grow to 12 vessels with the launching of two new barges.

In March, the company will debut the Princesse Royal, sailing on six-night cruises on its first venture onto the canals of Belgium and southern Holland.

The 160-foot clipper-style vessel accommodates 22 passengers in 12 cabins, including two suites, eight twin cabins and two singles, located on the lower deck of the two-deck vessel.

All cabins feature private bathrooms and porthole windows. Suites have a living area with sofa and twin beds that can be converted into doubles. The main deck has a sundeck, a dining room and an interior lounge with a bar.

The Princesse Royal offers a Tulip Cruise in Holland, with departures from March 25 through May 13.

The Tulip Cruise begins in Vreeswijk and travels along the Lek River to Schoonhoven, the windmill country at Kinderkijk and then along the Hollandse Ijssel River past Rotterdam. A cruise of Southern Holland, departing May 20 through Oct. 27, also visits Ghent and Bruges in Belgium.

An excursion to Keukenhof Gardens highlights Holland's famous fields of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The cruise also includes the village of Zaans Schans and a walking tour of Amsterdam.

Cruise costs are $2,190 for single cabins, $2,290 per person, double, and $2,490 per person for suite accommodations; the charter cost is $46,660 for up to 22 people.

While canal barge cruising underscores waterway life in the slow lane, larger hotel barges take to the rivers, as Continental Waterways will do when it launches the first all-suite barge, the 50-passenger Chardonnay, cruising for six nights on the Saone River in France between Lyon and Saint-Jean-de-Losne.

This spacious river craft has 23 suites, ranging in size from 190 to 208 square feet, as well as four single cabins. Main deck facilities include a forward bar, an inside lounge with a piano bar, a boutique, a dining room and two Jacuzzis.

The vessel will cruise along waterways through Burgundy, Beaujolais and Lyonnais, and visit Old Lyon, the medieval town of Perouges, the vineyards of Beaujolais, the abbey of Saint Philibert and Beaune.

Rates during the main season, May 6 through Oct. 14, range from $2,490 to $2,690 per person, double; single cabins are priced at $2,190, and the full boat charter cost is $117,740.

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