European Waterways celebrates 50th anniversary with week-long founders cruise

European Waterways celebrates 50th anniversary with week-long founders cruise
Edited by Travel Weekly


    To mark the 50th Anniversary in 2024, European Waterways’ Derek Banks is running an exclusive, week-long ‘Founders Cruise’ in Northern Burgundy aboard luxury hotel barge La Belle Epoque.

    Whether first-time cruisers with the company – or those who have cruised multiple times – this one-off departure in August 2024 is for those who love hotel barging and would like, in an informal setting, to hear tales of the history of this niche industry, from a true expert.

    Joining Host Derek on a Journey Down Memory Lane

    This celebratory and reflective sojourn will not only recognize the 50th anniversary but also celebrate the 30th anniversary of La Belle Epoque’s conversion into a stylish hotel barge with six en-suite cabins, a spacious saloon and dining area, a sun deck with spa pool to enjoy with a glass of champagne, bicycles to enjoy at leisure and a professional and friendly crew of six.

    After pick-up in Paris on Sunday 4th August 2024 and transfer to the 12-passenger hotel barge, guests will have a unique chance to immerse themselves in European Waterways’ rich history, as told face-to-face by Derek Banks. They will also be joined on board by other key figures and friends, who have played a role in the company’s success over the years.

    The Experience: Featuring 10 per cent off Per Cabin Plus a FREE Pre-Cruise Hotel Night in Paris:

    Guests booking this one-off “Founders Cruise” aboard La Belle Epoque can take advantage of our current special offer of 10 per cent off cabins when booked by the 2nd April. Prices start from €5,031 per person, with a saving of €559pp based on two sharing a cabin.

    As well as a 10 per cent saving, guests can also enjoy the benefit of a complimentary hotel room on Saturday 3rd August, based on 2 people sharing a room, at a four-star hotel, located only a five minutes’ walk from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

    From the moment guests are greeted at the pick-up point in Paris, the all-inclusive experience will begin, which includes in the cruise fare: accommodation, gourmet meals, fine wines, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, an open bar, guided daily private (often exclusive), excursions and air-conditioned transfers throughout the cruise.

    The “Founders Cruise” Itinerary:

    Showcasing the charm and the very best Northern Burgundy has to offer, itinerary highlights include: visiting a collection of off-the-beaten track gems such as the Château de Commarin, Abbaye de Fontenay and the Château de Ricey-Bas, where guests will be treated to a gourmet lunch in the 15th century vaulted kitchen, or in the private salon of the current owner Baroness Segolene, who will personally host the meal.

    Renowned as the Great Wine Region of Burgundy, guests will also embark, of course, on tours of vineyards: at the Château de Ricey-Bas; and in the town of Chablis at Domaine Laroche. The cruise ends with a visit to the stunning Château d’Ancy-le-Franc.

    Meet Derek Banks – The Background Story

    At the age of 14, Derek Banks got a taste for life on the water with his first-ever summer job in a boatyard on the River Thames. It was here that he had ‘caught the bug’ and his future ideas and plans eventually led to the creation of European Waterways a few years later.

    The pretty waterways of France were the first port of call in the 1970s, where Derek and his childhood friend and now business partner, John Wood-Dow, began their journey into the world of inland waterways with a small fleet of self-drive hire cruisers. Their first barge to purchase and convert as a luxury, floating hotel was their beloved Anjodi, launched on the Canal du Midi in 1982, as they began to pave the way as pioneers in the industry! Many soon followed in Derek and John’s footsteps, however, with the expansion of the European Waterways’ fleet across Europe, and unparalleled knowledge and insight in both hospitality and sailing, these childhood friends became a leading powerhouse.

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