Canal boat cruising WW1 Australian Battlefields in France




Western Front Association


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 2020: WW1: Aug Battlefield Cruise: 'Somme'

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Canal Boat Battlefield Tour Cruising - France & Belgium 2020

About Backwater Cruises Canal Boat Cruising in France/Belgium
Backwater Cruises is a revolutionary new breakthrough for modern canal boat cruising in Europe for 2018-2019. In France and Belgium alone there is some 10,000 km of navigable inland waterways, mostly on lesser rivers and canals not accessible to larger vessels - especially 'so called' 'liveaboard' large canal boats. Big hotel boats cannot travel on these lesser waterways and whilst some small converted barges do operate as hotel-cruisers on the minor waterways, they are relatively limited in scale and their number of passengers and are quite an expensive option.

Backwater Cruises explore these extensive and attractive French "backwater canals" using their high-comfort modern day canal boat whilst staying in a nearby hotel overnight, with many regular 'traditional' cruise passengers liking the novelty and relative freedom of being on dry land morning and evening - especially staying in the same hotel room for multiple nights while cruising - and exploring local attractions and restaurants around their hotel location.

*A word from Backwaters Cruises CEO: Mr Lynn Woods
"Our 2019/2020 season with Spirit of Remembrance starts in early December 2019 with a series of short 2 /3 day cruise/tours to the Xmas Markets in Arras, Northern France. Arras of course was the centre of some of the fiercest fighting in WW1 with the Front Line running through the centre of this beautiful restored town and actually though the centre of  the very market square where the famous Arras Christmas markets are held every December. These short tours are a great way to catch up on some WW1 history as well as some amazing Xmas shopping.

The focus then swings to April 2020, and our special 6 day cruise/tours for the 103rd anniversary of the Canadian Battle of Vimy Ridge and the 102nd Anzac Day anniversary battle (*Anzac Day Dawn Service included) at Villers-Bretonneux where the Australian forces halted the German forces - and in the process were/are acknowledged as changing the outcome of WW1. Further cruise/tours throughout the year will include battlefield and attractions in Northern France, and after Easter - south through the Champagne region to Paris and by end of May to Northern Burgundy where we spend much of the rest of the summer into early October 2020.

We have integrated many themes and interests into the 2020 programme of our overall Canal Boat Cruising - including our 2020 battlefield tour program alongside music, interesting onboard lectures and presentations and land visits for museums, antiques, food & wine plus much more. We look forward to working with Spirit of Remembrance and to seeing you onboard in 2020!"

'Natalia' - is the first of Backwater Cruises revolutionary new electric 'hybrid' powered canal cruise boats in France/Belgium. 'Natalia' is a purpose-built, eco-friendly, 50-seat, electric-hybrid boat - best described as a floating observation lounge. Launched in late 2018 to tour the hidden canals and rivers of France and Belgium (*and Netherlands (Holland) in 2021 - with new sister boats due in 2020), the vessel has been developed by Backwater Cruises to further develop 'responsible tourism' coupled with strong green credentials in a market sector that traditionally relies on diesel-engined craft.

'Natalia' now provides the focus for a brand new holiday sector for 'backwater' canal boat holiday cruising in France & Belgium that has not been available up until now. The slow pace of travel means the same hotel can now be used whilst enjoying multi day cruising. Guests enjoy a morning (or afternoon) cruise and delicious French lunch supplied by a local boulangerie, before travelling by coach to visit local battlefields, museums (e.g the Louvre in Lens) ancient chateaux, vineyards, fine restaurants and historic towns and cities.
Spirit of Remembrance is proud to partner with Backwater Cruises to develop and bring you a FULL RANGE of canal boat  Battlefield Tour/Cruises (and general French region canal boat tours!) in 2020. These battlefield focussed cruise/ tours will cover much of the principal WW1 & WW2 Battlefields in France, Belgium and the **Netherlands (**2021).

Special Groups/Conferences/Meetings/Incentives/Family Reunions etc..
Please do not hesitate to contact us also for any special groups you might have for this exciting new canal boat cruise & touring option - we welcome tailor made and special groups! (It's a great new novel centrepiece for any type of groups such as family anniversaries, regimental get-togethers, private family history explorer tours, conferences, meetings and incentives). We also have many departures in 2020 and 2021 to chose from!

Cruise boat features Include:
Outside viewing deck with sun awning
Spacious 19-metre air-conditioned lounge which can comfortably seat 50 persons
An onboard  galley serving drinks, including free mineral water, tea and coffee available all the time
Wine served with a delicious light French style lunch, usually supplied by a local boulangerie
A range of prestigious local wines - including Chablis, Bordeaux, Sancerre and Crémant de Bourgogne – which can be purchased by the bottle to enjoy during your cruise
Bikes available to hire at no cost if you're feeling energetic and wish to cycle the towpath :-)
Two toilets on board, including one suitable for wheelchair users.
(Up to two wheelchairs users can be accommodated on board also)

 'State of the Art'  Premium Electric Canal Cruising -France Including Somme Battlefields)

Spirit of Remembrance and Backwaters Cruises explore much of the attractive unspoilt "backwaters" of France & Belgium using their new premium - comfort day boats for half and full day cruising whilst you stay in a nearby hotel overnight for the duration of the cruise. On a typical cruise segment of your tour, your cruise will vary from 40-90 km at a very gentle pace interrupted by locks, lift bridges and even the occasional tunnel. And - with lovely flat towpaths all the way beside the boat - you can 'hop off' - and take a gentle walk after lunch - or if you are really feeling the need to get out into the countryside -  'hop on' one of the free bikes provided for passengers on the cruise and ride on the towpaths -  Enjoy the best of both worlds!

Specifically designed to cruise the smaller canals and waterways of rural France

This new concept in canal boat cruising in France means you usually stay within range of one central - easily reached hotel during your canal boat cruise segment of your tour - without having to travel any excessive distances on the coach each day. Most days, the boat will cruise in the morning (or vice versa - in the afternoon) and, after lunch on board, visit the battlefields with your expert Battlefield Guide - along with other great excursions such as grand chateaux, gardens, vineyards, famous museums and historic towns and villages. It's an ideal way to see the real France at your leisure and especially suitable for learning about the war-torn WW1 & WW2 hIstory of these countries with our battlefield touring options!
A delicious French boulangerie lunch is included every day. Fresh, locally sourced French country food!

Spacious, modern roomy seating interior with excellent toilet facilties

Backwaters Tours' boats are 'hybrid' electric/diesel engine-powered, usually charging the batteries overnight from a shore supply. Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, with the saloon roof covered in solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system.

Plenty of great locations for picnic lunches and BBQ stops along the canalsl

Natalia - a new concept in modern, premium backwater canal cruising/Battlefield Tours  in France

Boarding our Buzzlines coach after days cruisng


 Our other Battlefields & Remembrance Websites:      Spirit of Remembrance: Battlefield Tours UK: Battlefield Tours Canada: Battlefield Tours USA: 75th Anniversary D-Day;  Anzac Day Hellfire Pass: Thailand