Hotel barges are a popular way for upscale travelers to explore France, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe that have extensive canal networks. Thanks to European Waterways Ltd., it's now possible to explore the Venetian Lagoon and the Po River Valley by luxury hotel barge.
European Waterways used to market Venice cruises on a six-passenger barge called La Dolce Vita, but in 2010, the company introduced a new and larger vessel: La Bella Vita ("The Beautiful Life"), which carries up to 20 passengers in eight staterooms and two junior suites.
Six-night cruises aboard La Bella Vita start in Venice, continue to port towns such as Pellestrina and Chioggia on the Venetian Lagoon, and then head up the Po River toward Ferrara. The cruise ends in Mantua, with return transportation to Venice by bus. (Every other week, the cruise runs in the opposite direction.)
For more information, see the La Bella Vita pages at EuropeanWaterways.com.
Venice River Cruises
Two companies--CroisiEurope and Uniworld--offer river cruising in the Venetian Lagoon and the Po River Valley, with roundtrip itineraries from Venice that range from four to seven nights.
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