Find Your Cruising Style in 2015
Paul 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-843-4433).
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.
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 email@example.com) 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
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 www.Hideaways.com/perks.
: 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.
This luxury line offers one of the most all-inclusive experiences in the world
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
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
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
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.
The small, all-suite ships of this luxury line travel to virtually every corner
of the globe, with destinations on all seven continents.
: 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