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 breaks and day trips to the Christmas Market in Arras, Northern France, coupled with a cruise along the River Scarpe between the city and the village of Biache St-Vaast. Arras of course saw some of the fiercest fighting in WW1 with the 1917 Front Line running just to the east of this beautifully restored town and passing across the river close to the village of St-Laurent Blangy. With the awe inspiring Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge only a short way to the north, these short winter breaks are a great way to revisit WW1 history as well as enjoying excellent regional hospitality and the fun and spectacle of one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe.
The Spirit of Remembrance focus then swings to April 2020, and our special 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 advance - and in the process were/are acknowledged as changing the outcome of WW1. Further cruise/tours throughout the year will include a combination of battlefield visits and wider regional attractions across Northern France, as we cruise the waterways of Flanders through Artois to cruise the Somme, Aisne and Canal de St-Quentin, all with such moving stories of wartime to tell; and we also extend on to the Marne where there is so much more telling history of allied and resistance heroism.
We have integrated many themes and interests into our 2020 programme of inland waterways cruising from the wines of Burgundy to the Gardens of the Somme. As we look forward to working with Spirit of Remembrance these are ways in which we aim to add to the appeal of our cruise & tour packages as we build our partnership with our friends at Spirit of Remembrance"
'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)
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!
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!
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.