Published on : Monday, August 31, 2020
The urge to travel is irrepressibly strong among human beings and “the longing to visit new and exciting destinations is as strong as ever,” says Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. The hotel barge cruise specialist reports increasing interest in its two luxury vessels that cruise the Scottish Highlands – the elegant Spirit of Scotland and the Scottish Highlander. Travelers are attracted to the natural beauty of its remote mountain vistas and gleaming fresh water lochs – the Scottish word for lakes.
“Many travelers who were unable to take their cruises this year have rescheduled for 2021,” says Banks. “For them, it’s only a ‘dream deferred,’ but not a ‘dream forgotten.’ A hotel barge cruise is on their bucket list and they want to satisfy that wish as soon as possible.”
European Waterways is offering 10% off selected 2021 departures across its fleet in France, Italy and the U.K. that include the Scottish Highlander. The 2021 specials are valid when booked by October 12, 2020.
In the Right Spirit
European Waterways’ 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland and 8-eight-passenger Scottish Highlander luxury hotel barges both cruise Scotland’s fabled Caledonian Canal. They are ideal for families and small groups, which can charter the entire vessels for themselves and modify itineraries to reflect their special interests, such as family themed cruises, golf, and the unique “Whisky Trail” cruises.
The cruises reward guests with sweeping natural vistas of shimmering lochs, mystical glens and diverse wildlife. While cruising, guests enjoy gastronomic meals prepared by an onboard master chef, perfectly complemented by a selection of fine wines and a choice of 18 single malts behind the bar, as well as traditional Scottish fare, such as salmon, game and seafood. As part of the cruises, guests are treated to guided excursions to castles, aristocratic estates and legendary sites steeped in history and local folklore.
Since the vessels often travel just a few feet from the shore and pause at canal locks along the way, guests will never feel “lost at sea!” They can step off at numerous points to take leisurely walks or jog along the level towpaths. They can also ride the bicycles included onboard and explore the terrain and quiet villages nearby, and catch up to the hotel barge at a later stop. Should health concerns still be an issue in 2021, European Waterways will continue to follow its already strict safety and hygiene procedures while maintaining a comfortable and relaxed ambience.
Castles, ‘Nessie’ and Birds of Prey
Excursion highlights include a tour and private tasting at Scotland’s famed Tomatin whisky distillery. Shakespeare enthusiasts will enjoy a private tour of Cawdor Castle – often cited as the inspiration for Macbeth. Guests will also visit Eilean Donan, a thirteenth century castle in near-perfect condition that sits on a small island where three sea lochs meet. And, while few guests have had the good fortune to capture a sharp image of the elusive “Nessie”, they all return with exciting pictures of the Birds of Prey demonstration that is held on the grounds of an old abbey, on the shores of its renowned home, the famed Loch Ness. In this event, owls, falcons and eagles display their hunting prowess and passengers can take pictures of themselves holding these regal birds on their arm. It’s one of the numerous, exclusive “insider experiences” available to European Waterways’ guests.
“Our guests are among the most sophisticated and well-traveled people in the world,” said Banks. “They know that a hotel barge cruise on the canals and small rivers of Europe can be one of life’s most memorable experiences.”