L'Impressionniste

(1:40 p.m. GMT) -- Hotel barge cruise specialist European Waterways has completed a fleet-wide £500,000 upgrade and refurbishment programme ahead of the 2018 season.

Renovations include a complete redesign of the saloon on the 12-passenger L'Impressionniste, which cruises in southern Burgundy, with a new staircase, bar area, banquettes, and an oval dining table to help create more space and seating.

The eight-passenger L'Art de Vivre, sailing in northern Burgundy, has new bathrooms, while the Anjodi, another eight-passenger vessel based on the Canal du Midi, has a new hardwood sundeck to complement a new saloon fitted last year. Deck furniture has also been upgraded across many of the vessels.

The line's Scottish-based barges, which cruise Loch Ness and the Great Glen between Inverness and Fort William on the Caledonian Canal, have also been spruced up for the new season. The eight-passenger Scottish Highlander has a new passenger entrance and easier access, and theĀ  12-passenger Spirit of Scotland -- the most recent addition to the fleet -- has a new hot tub, curtains, carpets and improved interior lighting.

Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways, said the improvements were part of a rolling annual programme to provide passengers with the most comfortable cruising experience.

He added: "Once we have the engineering work completed, we are free to focus upon the exclusive, personalised service that our guests expect. This includes working with renowned interior designer Marion Falchi and her team to create interiors that are a wonderful mixture of homely tradition and contemporary style."

Founded nearly 40 years ago, European Waterways is the largest luxury hotel barging company in Europe. It operates a fleet of 17 vessels, carrying six to 20 passengers, and offers itineraries in nine countries.

--By Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic contributor