If you're ready for adventure, don't forget to keep European desinations in the books! There are plenty of houseboat holidays all across this exotic continent designed to offer visitors excellent opportunities for visiting everything from historical hotspots to quiet countryside. Here are some options to check out, especially if you want to take a break from the captain's seat and galley. These floating barge hotels offer you a personal setting with deluxe meals and chartering included, leaving you and your fellow travelers all the time in the world to sit back and enjoy yourselves in romantic Europe.
Amaryllis, Burgundy, France
The eight passenger vintage 1962 Amaryllis was converted into an upscale hotel barge in 2001. With a 129-foot Dutch hull and traditional French interior including Louis XVI and XV antiques, this luxurious boat has served some of the most respected names in France and Italy. A crew of six including a cordon bleu chef cater to guests, who can enjoy the heated swimming pool, topside sun loungers, or complementary bikes as they explore the Burgundy countryside. Other hotspot itinerary items include visiting ancient châteaux in Beaune, shopping for freshly made local mustard at a traditional Dijon market, and touring Château de Germolles, residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. The Amaryllis is only available for groups or families who charter the whole barge.
Shannon Princess II, waterways of Ireland
Possibly the only luxury hotel barge exploring the waterways of Ireland, the ten-passenger Shannon Princess II includes five suites with en-suite facilities. The experienced Irish crew includes a captain experienced with the Shannon Princess II for many years and a chef trained at the Ballymaloe School, noted for her signature dishes like the Roast Shoulder of Lamb. This beautiful houseboat also has panoramic windows and a comfortable rooftop sun deck for optimal views as the green waterways of Ireland pass by. Guests also have access to bikes and Wi-Fi Internet access, and the itinerary includes touring the ruins of the legendary 6th century Clonmacnoise and visiting the unusual hunted Leap Castle.
La Nouvelle Etoile, Moselle River, Germany
Touted as a wine lover’s paradise, La Nouvelle Etoile treats guests to an adventure along the Moselle River in Germany as it cruises through one of Europe’s most beautiful valleys. This ultra deluxe barge includes warm furnishings such as a piano, inviting bar, and teak-lined dining area and saloon. Each air-conditioned suite is over 200 square feet, perfectly roomy for the satellite TV and large en-suite bathrooms. The five-person crew, including a Tour Guide, works to ensure all eight guests are comfortable as they wind past forests, castles, vineyards, and colorful towns and markets. Visitors will also get to see Trier, Germany's oldest city with roots going back to the Roman empire and the 12th century Burg Eltz, “Queen of German Castles.” La Nouvelle Etoile cruises along the Moselle between September and October.
Magna Carta, River Thames, England
With four spacious full-width staterooms and generous en-suite facilities, eight passengers can enjoy the comforts of the Magna Carta as they explore historical hotspots along the River Thames in England. The Captain is well experienced with traveling along the Thames and will guide guests to visit places like Windsor Castle, and the famous maze at Hampton Court Palace, the fantastic Tudor home. You’ll also visit Ye Olde Belle, an ancient 11th century village, and Peter Freebody's boatyard where traditional craftsmen build and restore wooden boats. The picture windows along the upper deck salon and dining areas ensure a great view of the countryside as you cruise along quieter stretches of the Thames.
Panache, Alkmaar, Holland
Enjoy a champagne welcome once you step aboard the Panache before the well-versed six-person crew begins chartering your route along Holland’s famous waterways. With oversized showers and six comfortable cabins for up to 12 people, the Panache boasts panoramic windows and traditional yacht-style brass and mahogany fittings. A large sun deck, spa pool, and bicycles enable guests to relax however they choose. While onboard this stylish hotel barge, visitors will be able to see Zaanse Schans near Amsterdam, known for its wooden windmills and buildings in the traditional Dutch style, and the historic 13th century city of Haarlem. You’ll also tour the Royal Delft factory where world-famous porcelain is made and explore the Keukenhof Gardens (known as the “Garden of Europe”), where 100 acres are filled with over seven million flowering bulbs.