Source: The Telegraph
Get away from it all as you sail tranquil waterways aboard barges and small ships…
Launched in 1874, the 29-cabin MS Juno is the world’s oldest cruise ship. Her mahogany and brass interior has been renovated but hardly modernised since Ibsen and Hans Christian Andersen sailed on her. She plies, at an unhurried pace befitting her years, Sweden’s scenic and serene Gota Canal, which runs for 120 miles. Authenticity requires some compromises; cabins are compact, shower facilities shared.
From £1,196pp for a four-day cruise between Stockholm and Gothenburg on June 4, 2019 (00 46 3180 6315; gotacanal.se).
Ever seen a ship “fly”? You will seem to do just that at the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane. Built on the Marne-Rhine Canal in 1969 to avoid a laborious flight of 17 consecutive locks, this unique lift raises boats 45m at one fell swoop. The canal, built to connect Paris with the Rhine, gives access to the vineyards, castles, villages, and the French/German culture of Alsace and Lorraine. Experience it on the 12-passenger hotel barge Panache, between Krafft and Niderviller.
From £4,598pp for an eight-day trip, including travel on Eurostar and two nights in Paris (020 7593 2281; kirkerholidays.com).
Hole in the rock
The Corinth Canal may be short in length but it’s high on drama, with vertical rock cliffs framing the view of this four-mile-long channel built to link the Adriatic and the Aegean seas. Only the smallest cruise ships can navigate the 20-mile channel – a cut-through at the top of the Peloponnese peninsula that allows cruise lines to pair the Greek islands with Italy and Croatia. SeaDream offers a yacht-style all-inclusive itinerary, relaxed and with no compromise on service and food.
A 10-day cruise from Athens to Rome on SeaDream 1 costs from £3,538pp, on August 15, 2020 (0800 783 1373; seadream.com).
Barge with a view
Cruises on the Canal du Midi, built to connect the Atlantic and Mediterranean, unfurl a backdrop of vineyards, villages and sunflower fields as your barge drifts slowly through some of France’s most iconic countryside. Soak in the on-deck spa pool and savour fine wine and cuisine as you sail Europe’s oldest man-made waterway – and a Unesco World Heritage site to boot.
From £3,771pp for a six-night cruise between Narbonne and Trèbes on the crewed hotel barge Enchante, sleeping eight people, departing March 31, 2019 (01753 598555; europeanwaterways.com).
Unlock the Rideau
There are 45 historic, hand-operated locks along Canada’s Rideau Canal, all manned by polite, khaki-clad lock-keepers. After watching them whirl wheels, push gates and swing entire bridges back and forth, sit back and let the idyllic Ontario countryside float by, hopping off occasionally to visit pretty villages. The cruise is bookended by two of Canada’s most historic cities, the capital Ottawa and former capital Kingston.
From £1,325pp for a five-night cruise from Ottawa to Kingston on the 45-passenger Kawartha Voyageur, departing September 12, 2019. Excludes flights (001 800 561 5767;ontariowaterwaycruises.com).
Bulbs and bicycles
The pancake-flat Netherlands is a melange of waterways, windmills and bulbfields. Cruise the canals around Amsterdam and Haarlem in spring to see the flowers in all their glory. A boat and bike tour will add another quintessentially Dutch element – bowling along towpaths on two wheels.
From £551pp for a four-night cruise on the 44-passenger MS Fluvius, departing April 8, 2019. Bike hire from £48 (01273 224066;freedomtreks.co.uk).
Atlantic to Pacific by tall ship
Slicing through Central America’s narrowest point, the Panama Canalmakes the 50-mile journey between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans via cut channels and artificial lakes. There’s a real thrill to sailing under the many bridges and navigating the vast locks – particularly if you do it aboard a handsome tall-masted clipper yacht. Before transiting the canal, this cruise takes you on a sunny jaunt around some of the Caribbean’s charming smaller ports.
From £2,790pp for a 14-night, full board Barbados to Panama cruise on the 170-passenger Star Flyer, departing November 23, 2019. (0845 200 6145; starclippers.co.uk).
Winding through wine country
If you like Crus on your cruise, then a meander through the vineyards of Burgundy will fit the bill. Sail from Dijon through the heart of the Grand Cru Wine Route on the Burgundy Canal, then segue briefly on to the Saone River before joining the Canal du Centre where you’ll be perfectly placed to taste the Appellations Villages grown around Santenay. On board, local vintages will be paired with fine French cuisine.
From £1,904pp for a seven-day, full-board Meandering along the Burgundy, Saone and Centre Canals cruise on the 22-passenger hotel barge MS Deborah, departing Dijon on April 18, 2019. (020 8328 1281; croisieurope.co.uk).