Your Invitation to Join our Exclusive Founders Cruise with Derek Banks

Derek Banks piloting hotel barge Anjodi on the Canal du Midi

Discover the best of Burgundy and celebrate 50 years of luxury hotel barging on a one-off cruise hosted by European Waterways founder, Derek Banks.

Experience Burgundy through the eyes of Derek Banks – founder of European Waterways. To mark the company’s 50th anniversary in 2024, up to 10 guests can join Derek on an exclusive week-long cruise aboard hotel barge La Belle Epoque in Northern Burgundy on a dedicated Founder’s Cruise.

Whether you’re yet to cruise with us, have cruised once or multiple times, this one-off departure is perfect for those who love the concept of hotel barging and would like to hear tales of the history of this charming industry, led by a true expert.

La Belle Epoque - cruising

Meet Founder, Derek Banks

At the age of 14, Derek Banks got a taste for life on the water with his first ever summer job in a boatyard on the River Thames. It was here that he had ‘caught the bug’ and his future ideas and plans eventually led to the creation of European Waterways a few years later.

The pretty waterways of France were the first port of call in the 1970s, where Derek and his childhood friend and partner John Wood-Dow began their journey into the world of inland waterways with a small fleet of self drive hire cruisers. Their first barge to purchase and convert as a luxury floating hotel was their beloved Anjodi, launched on the Canal du Midi in 1982, as they began to pave the way as pioneers in the industry! Many soon followed in Derek and John’s footsteps, but with the expansion of the European Waterways fleet across Europe, and unparalleled knowledge and insight in hospitality and sailing – these childhood friends were now a leading powerhouse.

John Wood-Dow and Derek Banks
Derek Banks (L) and John Wood-Dow (R)

Join Derek on a One-Off Voyage Through History

Join Derek on a celebratory sojourn and reflection to mark European Waterways’ 50th anniversary aboard the 12-passenger luxury hotel barge, La Belle Epoque, who will also be celebrating the 30th anniversary of her conversion into a luxury hotel barge in 2024.

Departing on Sunday 4th August 2024, this exclusive Founders Cruise offers a unique chance to immerse yourself in the rich history of our company. Toast 50 years of success and enjoy tales of triumphs and challenges from the past and present day. Meet key figures who were there in the early days or have played a pivotal role in our success and even visit our Operations HQ in Burgundy for a taste of what goes on behind the scenes. If you’ve ever wondered where they store their abundance of premier wines that are hand-picked for each menu, you’re in for a treat!

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The Itinerary

As well as the opportunity to chat with Derek, guests will also enjoy a charming itinerary which showcases the very best of Northern Burgundy. From the pick-up point in Paris, you’ll be transferred to La Belle Epoque where your cruise through Northern Burgundy will begin. Itinerary highlights include a collection of off-the-beaten track gems such as the Château de Commarin, Abbaye de Fontenay, and the Château de Ricey-Bas where you’ll be treated to a gourmet lunch in the 15th century vaulted kitchen or the private salon of the current owner, Baroness Segolene, who will also join you for the meal.

Along the way, there will be a few surprises and trips down memory lane, as you would expect with the founder on board.

Of course this is the Great Wine Region of Burgundy, so guests will also embark on a tour of the vineyards that belong to the Château de Ricey-Bas, then on to the town of Chablis for a private wine tasting at Domaine Laroche. The cruise ends with a visit to Château d’Ancy-le-Franc before guests are transferred back to Paris.

See the full itinerary here >

Chateau-de-commarin-© Pierre Holley

5 Great Reasons to Book

1. Exclusive Access to True Industry Experts

Join European Waterways founder Derek Banks along with other barging friends, who will be delighted to talk about their experiences and thoughts on hotel barging life.

2. Discover the Best of Northern Burgundy

Go off-the-beaten-track on this week-long cruise through Northern Burgundy and enjoy its charming pastoral surrounds, grand châteaux, and incredible food and wine offerings.

3. Cruise in Style

Experience a stay on the charming La Belle Epoque, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of her transformation to a hotel barge in 2024. She features just 6 en suite cabins, a spacious saloon and dining area, a sun deck with spa pool to enjoy with a cold glass of champagne, bicycles to enjoy at your leisure, and a crew of 6 to cater to your every need.

4. All-Inclusive Experience

From the moment we greet you at the pick-up point, your all-inclusive experience will begin which includes gourmet meals, fine wines, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, all access to the open bar, guided daily private (often exclusive) excursions and air-conditioned transfers throughout the cruise.

5. Enjoy 10% Off Per Cabin Plus a Free Hotel Night in Paris on us

Guests joining this one-off Founders Cruise aboard La Belle Epoque can take advantage of a free hotel room on  Saturday 3rd  August for up to two guests at a four-star hotel, ideally located five minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

La Belle Epoque - saloon and dining area

Book Now!

Don’t miss out on this unforgettable experience as we cruise through stunning landscapes and indulge in exquisite local cuisine. Contact a member of our Cruise Team to book your space on this one-off journey with Derek and the La Belle Epoque crew. For more information our luxury barge cruises in Europe, order a free copy of our brochure to be delivered to your door.

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