Frequently Asked Questions...

We strongly suggest that you read this and the other information in the ‘About our Cruises’ menu selections at the top of the page before calling or e-mailing to discuss your cruise as it will answer a lot of your questions and give you a better knowledge of what the cruises involve.

You will find below Frequently Asked Questions on the following topics:


1) - How long are the cruises?

Most cruises are of 6 nights duration, although some 3 night cruises are available. Please go to our Barge Search page and use the 'Type of Cruise' filter to see which barges are offering 3 Night cruises this season.

2) - What is included in the price of the cruise?

- pick up and drop-off from a local airport, hotel or train station
- all continental style buffet breakfasts (many offer cooked breakfasts on request)
- lunches served with wine/s
- four or five course evening meals served with wines (often a different wine with each course)
- open bar, so no need to pay for any bar drinks (on the very few barges where this is not included, it will be clearly stated)
- daily guided excursions to local places of interest
- transport to and from places visited where necessary (if not within a short walking distance
- relevant entrance fees to places visited
- the use of on board bicycles
- the use of on board facilities such as Jacuzzi, pool, exercise equipment and musical instruments (please note these items are not found on every barge – do ask if you wish to be sure of your barge’s facilities)

3) - What is not included in the price of the cruise?

- Personal insurance, cancellation insurance, baggage insurance
- Airfares to and/or from the country of the cruise
- Items of personal expenditure whilst cruising – stamps, postcards, antiques! – etc.
- Gratuities that you may wish to give to the crew upon leaving the barge (suggested 5% of cruise value).

4) – Are there other cruise durations available, other than 6 or 3 nights?

Most barges are reasonably flexible so if you are only available for, say, 4 or 5 days then we will be happy to try and find you a barge to suit your tastes that will offer this duration. It will usually mean taking part in a normal cruise but missing a few days. The price of such a cruise will be at the discretion of the barge owner. The Caroline in the Canal du Midi region of France is particularly flexible in terms of the number of nights clients may cruise. Click on the name above to view the barge.

5) – Where do I meet the barge? – Will it pick us up?

A member of the barge crew will always pick you up from the arranged pick-up point and take you to where the barge is moored. For For Burgundy, Loire, Upper Loire, Champagne, Alsace and Normandy cruises central Paris pick-ups are usually made. Some Burgundy cruises are met in Dijon, a simple train journey from the centre of Paris (approx an hour and a half.)
For southern France cruises you are usually met at either Toulouse, Agen, Carcassonne, Beziers, Montpellier or Avignon, depending on which barge cruise you are taking. There are exceptions to this list of course so do ask when discussing your choice of barge to make sure that it will fit in with your travel plans. For charter cruises the whole group can be picked up at whichever nearby location you choose, but please note multi-point pick-up or drop-offs cannot usually be made.

To find out more about the excellent train services in France please see our 'Travel in France' page.

6) – What about the drop-off at the end of the cruise?

You’ll simply be taken back to the nearest train station, hotel, airport or other nearby location that has been agreed prior to the cruise, for your onward travel.

7) - How many crew members are there?

This varies from barge to barge, but is usually between 2 and 4 for the smaller barges taking up to about 12 passengers, and can be up to 12 for the larger barges taking up to 50 passengers.

8) – Will our cabins be cleaned during the cruise?

Yes, cabins and bathrooms on all barges are cleaned daily, usually in the morning during or after your breakfast.

9) – Can I smoke on the barge?

Most barges are ‘no-smoking’ inside, for obvious safety reasons. On most barges smoking is permitted on deck, subject to your fellow cruisers’ agreement. Smoking is never allowed on the Absoluut II barge.

10) – Are there hairdryers in the cabins?

Yes, each cabin will usually have its own hairdryer. If you use special hair curling tongs, hot brushes or such-like, you may wish to bring those with you.

11) – Do the barges have air conditioning?

Yes, 99% of them do, with individual controls in each cabin or room. There are a very few who do not however. If this is very important to you please check when booking. This is always indicated in the bullet point list of barge features found on every barge page on this website in any case.
  • 12) - Do the barges have central heating?

    Yes, 99% of them do have it, with individual controls in each cabin or room. There are a few who do not however. If this is very important to you please check when booking. This is always indicated in the bullet point list of barge features found on every barge page on this website in any case.

    13) – Will there be space to hang our clothes in our cabin?

    Yes, each cabin has its own built in storage space, though we suggest that you don’t pack too excessively, and the space available varies from barge to barge of course.

    14) – What should I bring to wear? – What is the dress code on board?

    People usually dress casually and comfortably whilst barge cruising – after all, you’re not on ceremony and are aiming to relax! If cruising in the south of France, bring several short sleeved shirts and shorts for the men, and summer dresses, shorts, skirts and breathable summer tops for the women. Comfortable shoes are also a ‘must’. You may wish to bring a pair of light cotton trousers and a warm jumper for the evenings in the early Spring and Autumn (Fall) as the nights can become chilly.
    If you’re cruising in cooler areas then trousers, light jumpers or shirts, plus a light raincoat is advisable, just in case!
    You may wish to bring something more elegant or formal for the last evening when most barges have a ‘Captain’s Dinner’ – usually the only meal at which the Captain will join you. Here you will say your farewells by candlelight, and it can be fun to dress up for this occasion.

    15) – Does the crew speak English?

    Yes. All barges have a fluent English speaking crew.

    16) – Will there be laundry facilities on board the barge?

    As a rule it’s better to presume the answer to this is ‘no’. If you really need something to be washed during your cruise then the barge crew will always do their best to help arrange it, but you should really pack with a view to not needing to wash anything whilst cruising.

    17) – Will there be a music system on board? – Or any other means of entertainment?

    Yes, most barges have a music system. Some have a TV in the salon, some even have them in your room (the Absoluut2 for example). DVD players and collections of films and videos are often carried too, along with a library of books, perhaps board games, cards and other ‘rainy-day’ distractions. The above varies from barge to barge so do ask if in doubt. Several barges have satellite TV so that you can get CNN and similar channels. Absoluut2 and La Nouvelle Etoile have this

    18) – Will I be able to e-mail from the barge or get internet access?

    Several barges provide wifi internet access. However given the rural location of many routes the connection speed can be very limited, so whilst checking email should be straightforward please don't expect to be able to skype or stream video whilst on board.

    19) – How fast will the barge go?

    Usually pretty slowly as there is a speed limit of 4 miles per hour on the canals! This ensures that the slow pace of life is experienced by all, and you can easily cycle along the tow path and keep up with the barge, and even go ahead and explore small villages on route, then wait for the barge to catch you up.

    20) – I suffer with sea sickness – will this be a problem?

    No – not at all. The canals are non-tidal and there will be scarcely any movement discernable to you whilst you cruise and usually none at all. There are no waves and the water is usually stationary, not flowing.

    21) – What are the bathrooms like?

    Most en suite bathrooms are pleasantly appointed using good quality fixtures and fittings. A toilet, washbasin and shower are the minimum that is provided. Often you will also have a bidet and on some barges a full-sized bathtub, such as on Esperance, Amaryllis and the Golden Odyssey. Double sinks are often found on our most luxurious barges such as La Nouvelle Etoile, Amaryllis and Napoleon.

    22) – What about the excursions? – Do I have to go on them?

    Excursions will always have been carefully researched by the barge prior to your arrival. Remember, the barge owners and operators are experts on the area(s) that they operate in and so they know the best and most interesting places and sites of interest to share with you, their client. Excursions are never ‘forced’ upon clients, but are merely proposed. On most cruises there will be a charming programme of suggested excursions, which most guests thoroughly enjoy. If however excursions are not ‘your thing’ and you prefer to go exploring local villages by bike on your own, for example, then in most cases that will certainly not be a problem. If the barge has to depart from a mooring at a certain time however the Captain will ask you to be back in time to go with the barge. All alterations to the usual activities will need to be agreed with the Captain of course, but this is not usually a ‘big deal’!

    23) – I have allergies and food preferences. Will this be a problem?

    No, as long as you let us know about them in good time prior to the cruise. For every booking we at The Barge Company will e-mail you a special form on which you should inform us of any specific dietary requirements or allergies that should be borne in mind by your chef during the cruise. You may also tell us if there are foods that you prefer to avoid, for example seafood or snails.

    24) – I have a favourite drink. I would like to enjoy it whilst cruising as part of the ‘open bar’ arrangement. Will the barge have it on board?

    When you tell us about any allergies or dietary requirements you can also tell us if you have any preferred drinks. We will then pass that information to the barge and they will endeavour to stock your preferred brands. They do not guarantee they will have them, but will always do their best to accommodate specific requests. Please bear in mind that occasionally it can be difficult to find certain brands in France, for example, but all efforts will be made, and there are very few things that cannot be found.

    25) – I’ve decided which barge I want to cruise on. How do I book it?

    By contacting me (Marie) at The Barge Company. E-mail me at or call toll-free from the USA + CANADA on 1-800-688-0245 or + 33 561 59 20 07 (direct from the rest of the world).

    26) – What will happen then?

    You need to tell me which barge, which date and how many people are in your group, and I will check to see if that date is available for you. If you have any specific requirements you should let me know about those too (for example, if you want the cruise to be a themed cruise such as golf, cycling or wine-tasting).
    If your barge and cruise date is available I will put a 7 day ‘option’ on it for you and then e-mail you your Booking Form. You will need to return that to us within 7 days along with the relevant deposit (usually between 25% and 40% of the total cruise cost depending on the individual barge’s terms and conditions). Once the signed and dated Booking Form is with us and we have received your deposit, we will confirm that your chosen cruise is secured for you. Usually, nothing else then has to happen until the balance becomes due. This can be anything between 130 and 60 days prior to the cruise, again depending on which barge you are booking. We will always e-mail you a copy of our Terms and Conditions at the time of booking, for your information and reference.

    27) – Do I need to go through a travel agent?

    No. We at The Barge Company are experts on barging in Europe and are all that you need in order to make your barge cruise a complete success.

    28) – What if I have questions during the run up to the cruise?

    You can contact us at any time. E-mail Marie at or call toll-free from the USA+ CANADA on 1-800-688-0245 or + 33 561 59 20 07 (direct from the rest of the world).

    29) – Will I receive a cruising voucher or a cruising ‘ticket’ of some kind?

    No, in most cases you will not. A few of our barges do supply you with a ‘Cruising Voucher’ for presentation to the crew at the point of pick-up, but this is not the case with the majority of the barges. We work very closely with all of our barges and they will always know your names, dietary information etc., that you have provided us with, and will be totally expecting you at the pick-up point on the first day of the cruise.

    30) – Will I be sent anything by The Barge Company?

    Yes, prior to your cruise you will receive our specially prepared Final Documents Folder. This is a selection of complimentary material on your cruise and is not at all ‘essential’ for your cruise, but it is a nice thing to have in order to ‘whet your appetite’ and also to keep with you whilst you cruise as it can be used as a folder or scrap book for your vacation.


    31) – Do I need to bring a lot of money on my cruise?

    Some cash is of course required, but you’ll not have to pay for anything on board the barge, so money will only be needed for things you may decide to purchase off of the barge along the way such as postcards, stamps, souvenirs, etc. Credit cards are the most convenient way to pay for most larger items, and are always good to have to hand. VISA, Mastercard and American Express are probably the most widely accepted. It is easy and convenient to use the local ATMs to withdraw cash during your cruise, so there’s no need to get a lot of money changed prior to cruising.

    32) – What is the currency in Europe?

    In France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy and southern Ireland it’s the Euro. In England and Scotland it’s the British Sterling Pound.

    33) – Will the US dollar be accepted in Europe?

    No—generally not. Local currency is preferred by individuals (i.e. when tipping). Shops, etc do not usually accept anything but local currency.

    34) – Are credit cards accepted in shops?

    Yes, in most shops (except possibly some very small family-run businesses in rural areas) accept Mastercard and Visa. American Express is also widely accepted.

    35) – Should I tip people in cafés and restaurants during the cruise?

    If you find yourself in such a place whilst cruising, it is most likely that it’s a part of the cruise and therefore all is taken care of by the guide or crew member who is with you. If you are there ‘independently’ then the choice is yours.

    Phone: +33 561 59 20 07, Fax: +33 561 59 23 54
    Phone (Toll-Free from USA + Canada): 1-800-688-0245

    The Barge Cruise Company Ltd, 2 Allée de Castelnouvel, 31490 Léguevin