Independently-owned hotel barges are thin on the ground (or maybe we should say "the canals") these days, so we were intrigued recently when we heard about the Hotel-Barge Meanderer, a former Belgian cargo vessel that offers luxury cruises in the Upper Loire region of France.
Meanderer was converted into an upscale passenger barge in 1992, and its current proprietors--George and Susan Kovalick--have owned the vessel since 2007. They've upgraded the vessel with such features as flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi Internet access; other amenities include CD and DVD players in each cabin, an outdoor Jacuzzi, and a bicycle for every guest.
The 125-foot (38m) barge has three cabins, with five crew members to serve a maximum of six passengers. Voyages begin every Sunday from April though October, and the barge is available for whole-boat charters as well as conventional cruises. For more information, visit Meanderer's Web site at meandererfrenchcanalcruises.com.
April bargains: On March 13, we received word that Meanderer has opened two voyages in April, 2010 for individual bookings and is offering its remaining cabins for US $2,500 per person, based on double occupancy. The fare reduction of nearly 50 percent applies to Meanderer's April 18-24 and April 25-May cruises.