Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Taste of La Bella Vita - Italian Barge Cruise Cuisine

Click to enlarge map
We have received after-cruise comments from a couple who were recently aboard LA BELLA VITA the week of 2-8 June 2013, Mantua to Venice (Venice, the Islands of the Venetian Lagoon, the Bianca Canal and the Po Valley).

It is very long so we have picked out their interesting comments about the food & wine associated with their barge trip, along with their week's menu.

Mmmmmmmmmm... The Good Life in Italy!

On arrival at the boat, we are presented with a glass of Prosecco (what else?), a range of hors d’ouvres, and the chance to meet the crew... Back to the barge for a most exquisite dinner with some fabulous wines. If this is a taste of what is to come, then I will need to buy some bigger clothes when we get home... Ravioli followed by duck, followed by zabagliogne with cheese to finish. Superb (Italian) wines of course! What a great start to our cruise.

Breakfast was pretty good. I had poached eggs with bacon; Yoghurt and fresh fruit, with a custard filled croissant to finish. Thank goodness we have a lot of walking to do today... Back to the barge for lunch.  First a welcoming Aperol, then into lunch.  Once again the Chef has shown his skills with an Anti Pasta of a most delicious and visually exciting tomato and motzarella cheese creation. A Savignon from northern Italy matched it perfectly. Spaghetti with a Chianti Classico for main course. Cheese and a chocolate fondant to finish.

Lunch today was a smorgasbord, confirming my opinion that the chef is indeed the most important person in the crew. A lovely sparkling pink wine to start - a Rose Brut Spumante. Quite delicious. An excellent selection of dishes and cheeses... Back to the boat for a welcoming drink and a tray of Bruschetta. Another notch out on the belt!
Dinner tonight was food from Sicily. Every night the meal comes from a different part of Italy, and tonight is Sicily’s turn. We started with a delicious risotto ball, then a gnocchi, a turbot main course and last a gelati with of all things licorice...

Breakfast of bacon and eggs, fresh fruit and yoghurt and a cream croissant. No wonder my belt is getting tighter... Back to the barge for another totally delicious lunch. This time the foods were from Liguria. My belt is barely coping by now. White bait with tempura carrots, zucchini flower and carrots. Yum! Next, the best pasta dish I have ever had, followed by cheese and a warm cake that mum said was the best that she had ever had. Superb accompanying wines of course...

Off to a Villa nearby for dinner... Only a short drive to the Villa and an excellent dinner of asparagus lasagne followed by roast chicken - real home grown free range chicken and full of flavour. Dessert was an ice cream creation and totally yum - out goes yet another notch on the belt...

Return to the boat for lunch. Another Michelin Star quality meal. The chef really is quite brilliant... Another great dinner and wines. The chef has seen me taking photos of his dishes and has asked me for copies of them to put in his cook book.  

A nice stroll back to the boat for lunch. Today a buffet. I am sure Andrea (our chef) thinks that he has the full complement of 21 passengers to feed (there were only 6 passengers aboard this week). After lunch we had a look at the galley. As you can see it is pretty small and it’s a wonder that Andrea and Mario (the sous chef) don’t get in each other’s way. In spite of the small sized cooking area, they have produced some excellent meals.
Back to the boat to cool off and get ready for tonight’s Captain’s dinner. A beautiful balmy evening,commencing with cocktails and prawns on the sun deck. Prosecco? Of course! The whole crew came up and shared a lovely time with us. The Captain, chef and our wine steward. Sunset over the canal was the perfect setting for our final (Captain’s) dinner. Chef really excelled himself with our dinner, and the wines which went with the meal were also gorgeous. It was a happy, but sad occasion as we had had such a wonderful time on board.

Breakfast early - all our packing has been done and it’s time for our last trip down the Canal to our disembarkation, and a farewell to our crew. Our last look at St Mark’s Square, this time from a different viewpoint. A forty minute trip passing some huge cruise liners that are docked near our final stop. Huge queues of passengers from these liners waiting for their trips into Venice. The sight of this made me convinced never to go on one of these boats, especially after the great time we had on our (relatively) tiny vessel - so much more intimate and personal.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?  Click on the images below to view their week's menu.

The variety of charming waterways between Venice and Mantua (Mantova) promises a unique and magical cruising experience. The itinerary includes fascinating excursions that offer a real insight into the many cultures -- Roman, Etruscan, Istrian, Byzantine and, of course, Renaissance -- that have influenced the arts, architecture and history of the region over many centuries. Enjoy the diverse landscapes and nature en route, from picturesque lagoon islands with their colourful houses, to wild beach dunes and pine woods with an abundance of birdlife; from the charming Venetian port of Chioggia via the River Po and Bianca Canal to the captivating lakeside setting of the Renaissance city, Mantua.

Delicious regional cuisine, fine Italian wines and the services of an attentive crew will make this an unforgettable cruise.

Italian Hotel Barge LA BELLA VITA - Barging cruises in Italy

La Bella Vita is a stylish 20-passenger vessel that has been has been newly refitted in 2010 to high standards to offer comfortable, fully air-conditioned accommodation. There are two upper-deck suites and eight cabin staterooms, all en suite, and a bright and spacious dining room/bar area. Louvred doors open to the side decks to give a perfect viewing platform, whilst above is a huge sun deck with comfortable sun loungers.

La Bella Vita is available for both private charters and individual cabin bookings. Contact Paradise Connections for more information.

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book LA BELLA VITA 
View La Bella Vita's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

It's not how far nor how fast, it's the pleasure of the journey that keeps people coming back for more.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Closure of the Inclined Plane (boat lift) at Saint-Louis-Arzviller, France

It appears that the temporary itineraries for Panache and La Nouvelle Etoile will continue throughout the rest of this season due to the disruption caused by the 4th July incident of the Plan incliné de (Inclined Plane / Boat Lift at) Saint-Louis-Arzviller. The canal de la Marne au Rhin is closed to through traffic at this point. Hopefully, all will be repaired before autumn 2014 when the barges are scheduled to return to Alsace-Lorraine.

Panache was on the canal to the east of Arzviller and is now cruising between Arzviller and Krafft. La Nouvelle Etoile was to the west of the boat lift when this happened and is now cruising between Nancy and Saabrucken. As they say, "go with the flow."

Plan incliné de Saint-Louis-Arzviller un bateau coincé dans les portes de l'écluse
from Le Républicain Lorrain

Here are a couple of articles from Le Républicain Lorrain:


Hotel Barge Panache - Brochure
The 129-foot Panache is a 12-passenger luxury hotel barge of classic Dutch design, fully air conditioned with spacious public areas and six en-suite suites, with your schoice of twin or double bed configuration. Bathrooms have twin sinks and oversize showers with massage jets. She is traditionally furnished in an old ship style with brass and mahogany, creating a comfortable and charming ambience. The salon and dining room have large panoramic windows for viewing the passing countryside, as well as comfortable sofas, books and music, and an always open inclusive bar. The sun deck is spacious and has a heated spa pool; a perfect place to watch the sun set after dinner.

In April and May, Panache will embark on circular "Tulip Cruises" starting and finishing in Haarlem, visiting the spectacular Keukenhof Gardens in full bloom, the world famous Delft pottery and the cheese center of Gouda.  She will then have repositioning cruises from Holland to Paris and Paris to Epernay, where they will move on down to cruise the beautiful Canal de la Marne au Rhin from Nancy to Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine with its unique mix of French and German cultures, Baroque and Romanesque architecture, storybook hamlets and wonderful white wines. Their various itineraries can be found in their online brochure.


La Nouvelle Etoile - Brochure
La Nouvelle Etoile is a luxurious barge with very spacious accommodation for up to 8 passengers, offering a wonderful blend of traditional elegance and sophisticated, state of the art facilities. The bedroom suites, each over 200 square feet, boast internet access and satellite TV and large double sink bathrooms. One of the suites is fully adapted to accommodate passengers with physical challenges and the barge is fitted with a lift/elevator for wheelchairs.

La Nouvelle Etoile also offers Dutch Tulip Cruises in the spring and offers a variety of cruises through France and ends their season in Alsace Lorraine. You can find their various itineraries in their online brochure.

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book your barging holiday
For more information on our barges and barging, visit our website :

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Special Offers for Barge Cruises: Updated August 10, 2013

Special Offers for Barge Cruises: Updated August 2013


Contact Paradise Connections now, for current availability and pricing. We hope you can take advantage of these special dates for your barging cruise vacation.

UPDATED: August 10, 2013

English Luxury Hotel Barge Magna Carta
Barging Cruises along the Royal River Thames  - Barging in England

Our Cruises are All-Inclusive:
  • 6 Nights accommodation on board in an air-conditioned, en-suite cabin.
  • The services of an experienced Captain / Host, Chef, Hostess(es), Driver/Tour Guide.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard.  A local meal ashore, once per week on most barges.
  • An excellent selection of fine regional and international wines and spirits, plus an all day open bar, tea and coffee.
  • Daily excursions by chauffeured minibus and entry fees to castles, vineyards, markets and other local places of interest.
  • Use of barge facilities such as bicycles, boules, barge library and on certain vessels, a spa pool.
  • Return transfers to and from the local meeting/drop off point

Special offers, terms & conditions subject to change.

 Irish Hotel Barge Shannon Princess - Guided Bike Touring Cycling Cruises
Barging in Ireland - Cruising the River Shannon

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book your barging holiday
For more information on our barges and barging, visit our website :