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Iceland on a Whim

Find Your Cruising Style in 2015

Cruising Style 2015Paul Gauguin Cruises

Gone are the days when choosing a cruise was a one-size-fits-all proposition. Today, you have more choices than the coffee selections at your local Starbucks! From active and adventure-filled cruises exploring the Antarctic, the Galapagos, or the Sea of Cortés, to leisurely barge cruises plying the canals of places like France and Holland—not to mention options in ship size, amenities, destinations, and themed itineraries—this is very much a time of tailored-to-you cruising.

Hideaways has spent decades seeking out and experiencing the plethora of cruise options out there so you can benefit from our insight and expertise. Whether it's an intimate river cruise through Europe or a once-in-a-lifetime cruise to the tip of South America, we'll help craft your most perfect and memorable cruise vacation ever.

Come along with us now as we explore two of those options in more detail, then give you even more choices for unique approaches to the world of cruising. Many of our recommended cruise lines are partners in The Hideaways Collection®, so you'll receive valuable member-only perks and VIP extras whenever you book them with your knowledgeable cruise expert at Hideaways Travel Services (email, or call 800-843-4433).

Smaller Is Better with Paul Gauguin CruisesTHC By Hideaways member Jan Dykshorn, La Crosse, WI

When it comes to cruising, my husband Pat and I, along with our good friends and fellow Hideaways members, Patricia (also Pat) and Barry Lankhorst, are becoming experts of sorts. We've been traveling together for about 40 years and have taken many cruises, but I would have to say that our recent voyage from Lisbon to Barcelona aboard the m/v Tere Moana was a real favorite. In fact, it ranked right up there with another cruise we did with Paul Gauguin—and the Lankhorsts—in Tahiti awhile back!

I really enjoyed this first experience aboard the Tere Moana, which only carries about 90 passengers. I very much liked the staff—they were attentive and personable, not at all like the staff on big ships I've been on where it seems like they're just going through the motions. The Tere Moana has a happy crew, and you can tell they like their jobs. Occasionally, the captain or another crewmember would dine with us, and that was fun.

Our time on board was full of nice surprises. One night the crew put on a talent show. These were the people who were making our beds and fixing our drinks—who would have known they were so talented! It was awesome! Honestly, one guy should have been on Broadway.

Other evenings, we'd step out into the Grand Salon after dinner and there would be a pianist performing. Another time the bartender was doing magic tricks. I tell you, the entertainment never stopped!

One thing Pat liked very much was the cruise director giving her short and very interesting talks on what we'd be seeing in port the next day; she offered bits of history that went beyond what was in the literature they provided. And we all liked the all-inclusive policy for wine, beer, and drinks, without the hassle of having to sign every time we ordered.

With such a small ship, it seemed like our fellow passengers were more interested in getting to know each other. I saw several people exchanging addresses during dinner, and I left with the name and address of a woman from Florida. And the dining itself was very good, with a wonderful variety of offerings like fresh fish, steak, and lamb.

We especially enjoyed our port time in Lisbon—such an ancient and fascinating city! We had a marvelous tour with a company called Tours by Locals, and our guide was wonderful. She had us sample a custard tart called Pasteis de Nata that's kind of a national thing, at what was once the king's favorite bakery. Delicious!

We'd go back to Lisbon and sail aboard the yacht-like Tere Moana again in a heartbeat! As we discovered, it's the perfect ship for an intimate sojourn with good friends.

Getting to Know: European Waterways

Floating along through the bucolic countryside . . . sampling local dishes and wines that suit your taste . . . cruising with like-minded travelers, or having an entire barge completely to yourselves for a chartered family getaway. These are just a few of the reasons to choose a peaceful barging trip on the scenic canals of Europe.

We thought it would be fun to introduce you to one of our preferred hotel barge partners, UK-based European Waterways, and help you get to know the joys of this type of cruising. Here's what we learned from Marketing and PR Manager Chris Gant, who graciously offered his insight on what makes European Waterways a unique way to see Europe. And remember, be sure to book your European Waterways barge cruise through Hideaways Travel Services ( 800-843-4433, or to receive your exclusive member perks and discounts.

Hideaways International: What are some of the advantages of barge cruising over the ever-popular river cruise?

Chris Gant: Because our hotel barges are much smaller than large river cruisers and carry, say, 8 or 12 passengers compared to 100-plus, the atmosphere on board is more intimate and like an exclusive house party. As our barges only cruise perhaps 50 miles or so in a week and at a gentle pace, people can really get to know a small part of France, for instance, or any of the other places we cruise—Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Holland, and more—rather than traveling much longer distances on a river cruiser without having the chance to stop and explore.

For example, all our barges carry bikes, so our guests can get off at any lock and cycle along the canal towpath, or just walk it, as the barges only move along at about three miles per hour. Our passengers also will enjoy wonderful meals cooked by the barge chef using ingredients he has bought that day from a local market, and they'll drink fine wines from nearby vineyards. Plus, our excursions are to more off-the-beaten-track places that large groups of more than 50 people can't get to. Their larger ships can't get anywhere near such places as a privately owned chateau for a delicious meal or a small family-run vineyard for a special tasting.

HI: People may not realize that your luxury hotel barges were once working Dutch barges. Can you describe the refitting that took place to transform them?

CG: Yes, these vessels typically used to carry grain, wine, wood, and all sorts of other cargo. One of our hotel barges, L'Art de Vivre, was built in 1912 and actually carried ammunition to the front lines during World War I! In the 1960s and '70s, it started becoming more efficient to carry goods by road, so many working barges became obsolete.

A few pioneers—my boss, Derek Banks, being one of them—hit upon the idea of converting these barges into floating boutique hotels. The big empty cargo holds were cleverly converted into four twin/double cabins with en suite facilities accommodating eight passengers, using materials such as African hardwood paneling to create character-filled interiors. Above the cabins, a saloon/dining area was built. All this work usually took at least one year and was carried out by skilled small-ship builders. During the years since, hotel barges have become more and more refined, with amenities such as air conditioning and on-deck Jacuzzis being added.

HI: Obviously, you won't have the choices on a small boat that you would on a larger vessel. But can menus and activities be personalized to meet guests' needs?

CG: It's true we don't offer a wide choice of menus each day, although the gourmet meals that our barge chefs create are good enough for that not to be a problem. Of course, if we have guests with specific dietary requirements, we are always happy to satisfy.

One of the best meals I have ever had was on board our barge Anjodi, on the Canal du Midi in France. It was a bouillabaisse full of amazing fresh ingredients, such as fish caught that day. We had visited the fantastic indoor market in the old town of Narbonne, and the chef told us what he was cooking that night and then we all chose something to go into it. Amazing! I'm also a lover of top-quality beef, and the fillets of Charolais beef that we serve on many of our barges in Burgundy—these are from cattle that graze right alongside the canals—are melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious.

In terms of activities, we've picked what we believe are the most interesting tours for each barge route in the nine countries we cruise, so there's something for everyone, whether they're interested in culture, art, history, wines, or food. And while each barge is cruising, guests can do all sorts of things—go for a bike ride, relax in the Jacuzzi, sit on deck and watch the world drift by, or my personal favorite pastime, be served chilled white Chablis by one of our barge hostesses!

HI: What is your favorite barging route?

CG: This past summer, my wife and I spent a week in the Alsace region of eastern France on the hotel barge Panache. It's a lovely area because there's a real mixture of French and German cultures, wines, and cuisines. The Panache cruises on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, which is a really pretty waterway that passes through Strasbourg and some wonderful countryside. The tours are really interesting, too. My wife loved visiting the Lalique Museum in the small village of Wingen-sur-Moder, while I enjoyed a trip to the Meteor Brewery—the oldest operating brewery in France!

Each of our cruises is six nights, so we were really immersed in the culture of the Alsace region. And with a crew of anywhere from four to eight—including the captain, a gourmet chef, at least one hostess, and a tour guide who takes you on all planned excursions—you'll be well taken care of along the way. I just can't tell you how relaxing it is barging along these peaceful canals. You have to experience it for yourself!

Choose Your Unique Cruise Style, with Hideaways' Perks

When it's time to sail away in 2015 and beyond, we highly recommend any of these diverse, Hideaways-preferred cruise lines. Each extends a VIP experience to members of the Hideaways Aficionado® Club, along with exclusive perks like shipboard credits and a bottle of bubbly. And remember, whenever you book a preferred cruise partner through Hideaways Travel Services, you also receive a gift membership or membership extension in the Hideaways Aficionado Club. View all your exclusive member perks online at

A-Rosa CruisesTHC : Rivers of Europe

Sail the great rivers of Europe with a convivial group of like-minded, young-at-heart travelers aboard one of five all-inclusive A-Rosa ships.

Crystal Cruises : Worldwide

This luxury line offers one of the most all-inclusive experiences in the world of cruising.

Oceania Cruises : Worldwide

Known for having some of the finest cuisine at sea, this line's mid-size ships offer a country-club-casual atmosphere.

Paul Gauguin CruisesTHC : Worldwide

With two exquisite ships—the 332-guest m/s Paul Gauguin and the 90-guest m/v Tere Moana—this line specializes in warm-weather destinations.

Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions : Worldwide

The sleek, French-designed mega-yachts of this stylish line travel to magical destinations like Iceland, Madagascar, and Antarctica.

Sea Cloud CruisesTHC : Worldwide

Two fully rigged, yacht-like sailing vessels—the original Sea Cloud and its newer sister ship, Sea Cloud II—welcome you to a world of cruising reminiscent of its golden era.

Silversea Cruises : Worldwide

The small, all-suite ships of this luxury line travel to virtually every corner of the globe, with destinations on all seven continents.

Un-Cruise AdventuresTHC : North America

Immerse yourself in off-the-beaten-path experiences in some of the world's most naturally beautiful locations, from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to the Hawaiian Islands and Mexico's Sea of Cortés.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises : Europe, Russia, India, Vietnam/Cambodia, Egypt

This is luxury, pampered, all-inclusive river cruising on the world's most intriguing waterways.

Be sure you receive all your valuable member-only perks and VIP extras! Book your next voyage with your knowledgeable cruise expert at Hideaways Travel Services (email, or call 800-843-4433).

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* Hideaways Aficionado Club is a registered trademark of Hideaways International, Inc.
Copyright © 2021 Hideaways International, Inc.
All Rights Reserved