Chicago-based barge cruise specialist agency Barge Lady Cruises has developed two series of barge cruises on the River Thames, one that focuses on the "Harry Potter" movies and books and the other with a "Downton Abbey" theme.
The six-night cruises will take place aboard the eight-passenger barge Magna Carta and will sail from Hampton Court to Henley-on-Thames following a transfer from London.
The Harry Potter Magic Cruise itinerary will include sights such as Virginia Water, where in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Harry first encounters Buckbeak at the lake, and Picket Post Close, the real-life location for the filming of 4 Privet Drive in the first Harry Potter film.
There will also be an included Harry Potter tour at the Warner Brothers Studios in London and a visit to Oxford's Christ Church College, which was the inspiration for the Great Hall at Hogwarts. The 16th century stone staircase at Christ Church College was used in several scenes in both "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."
The Downton Abbey sailing follows a similar route with a focus on English royalty and castles. There will be a visit to Windsor Castle, the British royal family residence for more than 900 years, as well as to a Tudor manor that is regularly used for filming. The highlight will be a visit to Highclere Castle, the main filming location for PBS' "Downton Abbey" TV series.
The Harry Potter cruises depart Aug. 19 and Sept. 16; the Downton Abbey cruises depart April 1, April 8, May 6, May 27, July 8 and Aug. 12.
Cruise rates start at $4,550 per person, double, and include all meals, an open bar, transfers to and from London and daily excursions. The Magna Carta barge consists of four, 200-square-foot cabins, all with en-suite bathrooms and flatscreen TVs. There is also a salon and dining room, WiFi onboard, two outdoor decks, a hot tub and four mountain bikes onboard. A crew of four people accompany the passengers.