Who will be onboard: Crew generally includes the captain, a private chef and housekeeping staff. Sometimes the captain is the guide for shore trips, in other cases, a local guide or crew member with certain expertise may be used. All the crew (for the barge products Ellen Sack sells) speak English.
Barging for travel agents: All agents are familiar with trade shows or fams on big cruise ships. Yes, the European barge cruise industry also has its own trade show of sorts. In March 2007, Sack participated in France's Canal du Midi Barge Show at the port of Carcassonne. "Imagine 10 gorgeous barges moored up side by side," says Ellen Sack. "What a sight?!" Sack and travel agent colleagues went from barge to barge: meeting owners and crew, noting improvements, taking photographs, and socializing.
From April 5 to May 30, 2008, the newly renovated Elisabeth, a first-class French canal barge, is sailing six-night "Chocolate and Wine" cruises on the Burgundy Canal. The barge accommodates up to six guests. Activities include chocolate and wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, chocolate desserts, lunch in Flavigny where Chocolat was filmed, and chateaux, Medieval Abbey and Roman battlefield visits. Commissionable at 10 percent, the full-boat charter costs $21,000 for six guests, $18,700 for five and $16,400 for four. Visit www.bargeladycruises.com