2015 Declared ‘Year of the Family’


European Waterways has declared the 2015 cruise season “the year of the family,” and is offering up to 10% off the price of whole boat charters on 10 of its most popular hotel barges.

Since vessels hold from just eight to 12 passengers, chartering a hotel barge guarantees a personal, private vacation, with the option to modify family friendly itineraries to meet the unique needs of the group.

“Family travel is one of the strongest growth markets in the industry, with more families opting for unique new destinations and itineraries as opposed to traditional vacations, such as theme parks and large ocean cruise ships, where families get lost in the crowd,” said Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. “Although our cruises are perfect for all types of small groups, we want to make 2015 an especially ‘family friendly’ year for hotel barging because it offers the kind of experiences that are tailor-made for today’s multi-generation families, with a wide range of activities that can be enjoyed by young children, teenagers, parents, and all the way up to grandparents.”

The eight-passenger Anjodi, for example, is perfect for an intimate family vacation. Completely refurbished with African hardwoods, hand-crafted paneling and shining brass, the hotel barge was specifically rebuilt to navigate the 330-year-old Canal du Midi.

Among the family friendly activities available is a visit to the city of Carcassonne, the most complete medieval fortified city in existence. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city transports visitors back to the medieval era, allowing young minds to imagine a time of kings, damsels, and gallant knights.

The itinerary also includes a visit to the unique Meze Dinosaur Park and Museum, the largest museum in Southern France dedicated to dinosaurs. As an open air exhibit, kids can’t miss the massive and realistic constructions that are waiting for them inside, such as the head of the Brachiosaur skeleton, the largest complete dinosaur skeleton in the world, which peers out above the treetops.

The National Nature Reserve of Bagnas is another kid-friendly destination, where guests can look out for more than 250 species of birds that include flamingos and other migratory birds.

European Waterways offers a 5% whole boat charter special for Anjodi that covers the departures on April 19 and 26 and all departures from May to August and in October 2015. These must be booked by Sept. 30. A 10% discount is also offered for the March 29, April 5 and April 12 departures, with no book-by deadline.

Another option is L’Art de Vivre, an eight-passenger hotel barge offering modern en suite cabins and a saloon area that combines contemporary leather with more traditional furnishing.

A 5% reduction in the whole boat charter price of L’Art de Vivre is available for the departures on April 19 and 26 and all departures from May to August and in October 2015. These must be booked by Sept. 30 to be eligible. A 10% off charter special is also available for the April 12 departure with no book-by deadline.

A cruise onboard the Scottish Highlander is packed with activities for children and adults alike. There is a visit to the Black Isle Wildlife and Country Park, the perfect multi-generational family destination, where kids can have fun making contact with everything from rabbits to rare cattle, while parents can relax nearby with a glass of wine or perhaps a “wee dram” of whiskey. Later, families can have fun trying to spot the elusive “Nessie” while cruising the world-famous Loch Ness before arriving in Fort Augustus.

Then, on a visit to Treasures of the Earth Centre in the west Highlands of Scotland, guests will see one of Europe’s finest collections of gemstones, crystals, and fossils, all set in simulated caverns and mining scenes. Children and teens will also certainly enjoy a magical ride on a steam train across the spectacular Glenfinnan viaduct.

The 5% whole boat charter special for Scottish Highlander covers the departures on April 26 and all departures from May to October 2015. These must be booked by Sept. 30 to be eligible. A 10% discount is also offered for the April 5, 12 and 19 departures, with no book-by deadline.

Travel agents receive at least 10% commission on all bookings.