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According to European Waterways founder Derek Banks, bookings for the 2011 season are up 51 percent over the same period as last year, and 2010 was up 39 percent over the previous season. The large luxury European hotel barge cruise company attributes the increase to rising confidence among travelers that the worst of the recession is over and a pent-up demand for more culturally immersive travel experiences.
“There is a growing awareness of the authentic hotel barge cruising experience, with travelers recognizing that it is completely different from river cruising,” said Banks. “Barge cruising is an intimate, immersive experience, on a vessel which may accommodate only eight to twelve guests and a highly trained crew that includes a captain, a master chef, expert tour guide and housekeeping personnel.”
Founded nearly 40 years ago, European Waterways operates a private fleet of hotel barges with cruises in France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.