Having done a Burgundy barge cruise once before, my wife and I had very high expectations for this family trip. Ellen Sack exceeded those expectations, on all accounts. She was very helpful in selecting the right boat for us and our two sons and daughters in-law. The crew of the Rendez-vous was personable, energetic, knowledgable and genuinely fun to be with. Lori Young handled several special requests from ballooning, to live music on board, and birthday surprises, all with a “no problem ” approach. The entire experience from the first call through many months of planning was 5 stars.
We had a great time aboard the Hemingway, 9/25/16 to 10/1/16, and we believe all barge trips for us in the future will be defined by this trip. Our support, from making the choice to pick the Hemingway to answering little questions, was handled quickly and accurately by Ellen and her team. The barge trip was outstanding in all regards, service, room, food and tours. Our barge cabin was better than a number of the fine hotels we have stayed in. The service from all the barge employees and the owners was excellent. Each meal was a pleasure and an adventure. The wine and bar selection were also excellent. While our fellow passengers did not want to go on some of the tours (they had been before) we loved each one and learned a great deal about the wines and the history of the area.
It was a really, really great experience that will be hard to top.
My wife and I were quite pleased with our interactions with Ellen Sack and her team. Because we were new to barge cruising (having only done ocean and river cruising before), Ellen helped us narrow down options and select what we consider an ideal barge cruise for us. We selected the Savoir Vivre. It carries 8 passengers. What we especially liked is that we got to dine at a different place, in a new town, each night.
The cruise surpassed our expectations. The ship captain Richard, the hostess Marie, and the guide Laura (“the crew”) were awesome. We felt pampered. We were impressed with Marie fixing a delicious breakfast and lunch for us, while still tidying up our cabins. We wanted to take her home with us. Laura was vivacious and engaging, and made history come alive for us on our tours. Richard was friendly, helpful, and low-key. He served as our driver to and from the train station and the restaurants at night. On our trips off the barge, we drove around in a spacious minivan. Richard and Laura arranged to have the van at the location where the barge docked each night, so that it was close by when needed.
We liked the casual atmosphere of barge cruising. It was more low-key than river cruising. We did one excursion a day for only a few hours. That gave us time to relax on the barge, chat with our new friends, walk along the Burgundy canals, or bike along the canal and into the towns. We also got to help open and close the gates at the numerous locks along the canal. Before or after an excursion, we would hang out in the common area at the front of the ship.
Before the cruise, I worried a little about the bikes. They are fold-up bikes, and I was concerned that they would be uncomfortable. I am 6 feet, 2 inches tall with long legs. My worries were misplaced. I didn’t have a problem. I could comfortably pedal for the several miles we traveled.
We would consider doing another barge cruise in a different area. Barge cruising is a great way to chill out—and make new friends—after doing lots of (hectic) sightseeing in another part of the country. We were a little sad to depart our new little family at the end of the cruise.
Contact Ellen and her staff if you’re interested in trying out a barge cruise. They will help you find something that fits your needs and travel style.
Southern Burgundy, Escommes to Fleurey-sur-Ouche
Five companions (aged 32-70) and I spent a week on the barge Rendez-Vous in September 2015. Our travel information and documents packages arrived in good time and we were all ‘blown away’ by the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of their preparation. Hand-written birthday cards were a lovely touch.
At my age I’ve done a great deal of traveling, under the aegis of a great many companies, and Ellen Sack certainly stands out. She and her staff display expertise, patience, thoroughness, and a sense of humor. What more could one ask?
My husband and I went on a cruise on Bonheur with two friends. We enjoyed every minute of it. Paul and Annie are wonderful hosts, and Helen is totally right in rating it the best small barge. We are very happy to have booked our trip through Ellen. Everything went as expected. Great work.
Ellen and her team made our trip to Burgundy in June 2014 spectacular. We loved L’Impressionniste and the amazing crew, chef, and captain. We highly recommend Ellen Sack to anyone interested in wonderful guidance on your next trip.
My husband and I have taken three barge cruises arranged through Ellen Sack. We have cruised the Canal du Midi in the South of France, Scotland on the Scottish Highlander and last September were on the Bonheur with our good friends. Each barge is unique and different. What they all have in common is an unparalleled ability to create once-in-a-lifetime trips via their locations, hosts, day trips, terrific food onboard, and a sense that you are experiencing a trip that cannot be duplicated. Ellen Sack is by far the best, most responsive, thorough, generous, thoughtful travel person we have ever used anywhere in the world. The fact that if you call her office you have a great chance of having her pick up the phone, answer each of your questions, and never once make you feel that she should be doing anything else except helping you is worth the price of the cruise alone. The reason we have taken three barge cruises is simply because each and every experience has been beyond delightful. We cannot wait to book another barge cruise.