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February 2010
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April 2010

March 2010

Happy Cruises: M/V GEMINI

MV GEMINI of Happy Cruisers
ABOVE: M/V Gemini cruises up the Giudecca Canal in Venice, Italy.

Today we saw M/V Gemini, the flagship of Happy Cruises, heading up the Giudecca Canal in Venice on its way to Croatia, Turkey, and Greece. You can see a video of the ship's departure below.

The 800-passenger ship offers 7-night cruises from Venice every other Monday from March until early October. (In alternating weeks, the ship operates in the reverse direction from Athens to Venice.) 

Happy Cruises is owned by Spain's Quail Travel Group, and fares include roundtrip air transportation from Barcelona or Madrid.

For more information in English, see the "Treasures of the Adriatic Sea and Turkey" page at

An accessible hotel barge in France

La Reine Pedauque
ABOVE: La Reine Pedauque offers weekly canal cruises in Burgundy from spring through fall. INSET BELOW: The barge's Imperial Suite is accessible to weelchairs.

Imperial Suite - La Reine Pedauque Barge cruises are a pleasant way to explore the French countryside, but most barges don't accommodate guests with mobility problems. The typical barge has two decks, with stairs leading down to cabins inside the hull, and getting on or of the barge usually requires a step up or down from the quay or a short trip across a narrow gangway.

Recently, the friendly people at France Cruises told us about a barge that does accommodate wheelchair users and other guests with limited mobility. La Reine Pedauque was built as a cargo vessel in 1923, but in its current incarnation as a luxury hotel barge, it meets European and ADA accessibility standards with features such as:

  • A wide gangway that's suitable for wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or passengers with canes;
  • A lift between the upper and lower decks;
  • A wheelchair-accessible cabin (the Imperial Suite) with appropriate bathroom fittings;
  • A wheelchair-friendly excursion bus.

Just as important, all tour locations on La Reine Pedauque's itinerary are accessible by wheelchair.

La Reine Pedauque accommodates eight guests in four suites, with public areas that include a salon/lounge, a bar, a dining room, and a sundeck. Wi-Fi internet access, touring bikes, a small library, and board games are also available.

The barge offers 7-day/6-night and 4-day/3-night cruises between Dijon and Vandenesse en Auxois from early April to the end of October. Full-boat charters are another option. For more information, see the La Reine Pedauque page at 

Photos: France Cruises.

More cruise ships coming to Europe

MS ROTTERDAM at Oslo Cruise Terminal
ABOVE: Holland America Line's ms Rotterdam in Oslo, Norway.

According to a recent article in the trade publication Travel Weekly, the number of cruise ships in European waters will increase in 2011 as the U.S. economy improves and several major cruise lines redeploy ships from other regions such as Alaska.

For example, Carnival Cruises will return to Europe after a near-absence during the last two years, and Royal Caribbean will base 11 ships in Europe during the summer of 2011. 

Holland America Line isn't waiting for next year: It will have seven ships in Europe this summer, including a brand-new ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam.

If you're tempted by the idea of a maritime vacation in Europe, see the cruise reviews and European Cruise Guide at our cruising site, Europe for Cruisers.