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Panache Review

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Jeannine Williamson
Cruise Critic Contributor

Panache Overview

Panache is a stylish 12-passenger hotel barge that is part of the fleet operated by U.K.-based European Waterways.

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Like the majority of the other vessels in the fleet, it was originally a working barge dating back to the 1950s and was given a new lease of life as a hotel boat after being totally restored. With a 2:1 crew-to-passenger ratio, the two-deck Panache has six cabins that measure 150 square feet. Each can be configured as twins or doubles. 

All the cabins are very well equipped and include ample closet space, a large fixed window and bathrooms fitted with two sinks and oversized walk-in showers with massage jets. Robes, towels, hair dryer and bathroom products are provided. The onboard voltage is 220v and 240v and passengers need to bring adapters for the European-style two-pin sockets. Cabins have bedside tables with reading lamps, a writing desk and chair and a TV/DVD player mounted on the wall. 

The upper deck saloon, which doubles as a lounge and dining area, has panoramic windows and is decorated in traditional yacht style with brass and mahogany fittings. There is a small library of books and maps, board games, an electronic piano and music system.

Outside is a large sun deck, with a hot tub, plus 12 complimentary bicycles for passengers to use to explore the towpaths and surrounding villages. Fares include all meals, snacks, unlimited tea, coffee, soda, alcoholic beverages, excursions and Wi-Fi.

Onboard meals are freshly prepared by the chef. Days begin with a continental-style breakfast with fresh breads and pastries, cereals, freshly squeezed orange juice and hot beverages. Lunch is usually a buffet, with salads, pates and cold cuts accompanied by a hot soup or entree, desserts and a selection of regional cheeses. Dinner is a candlelit four-course gourmet experience with a set menu. Dietary requirements such as vegetarian and vegan, can be catered with advance notice at the time of booking. Both lunch and dinner are accompanied by quality wines paired with each course.

European Waterways markets the cruises to international English-speaking passengers and fellow cruisers are mostly from North America and the U.K. Primarily 50-plus, they are well-educated and well-traveled

Life onboard is very relaxed and casual. There is no dress code, although some passengers like to dress up for the captain's dinner on the last night.

From March to early May Panache sails six-night itineraries in Holland, including a springtime Dutch bulb field cruise, and excursions include the Keukenhof gardens with the world's largest display of flowers, Royal Delft pottery and Leiden, birthplace of Rembrandt. From June to October, there are six-night itineraries in Alsace and Lorraine, which take in the city of Strasbourg, the Alsace wine route and an ascent or descent of the 

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Awards and Recognition

Panache Member Reviews

Sail Date: Aug 2017
This is our third barge we've been aboard with European Waterways. Each barge was very different, but the experience, service and cuisine were superb! It was especially fun to meet Florian and Judith again after our... Read More

European Waterways Fleet

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2 reviews

One of the longest barges in European Waterways' fleet, the 13-passenger L'Impressinniste sails small waterways in Provence, leaving from Avignon.

View All European Waterways L'Impressionniste Cruises

With only eight passengers, Andjodi offers an intimate, all-inclusive barge experience on Southern France's Canal du Midi, with wine tasting, guided tours and bike trips.

La Belle Epoque

The 13-passenger La Belle Epoque barge cruises through Burgundy on the Upper Burgundy Canal, making stops in small villages and stopping for private wine and foie gras tastings.


One of widest barges in European Waterways' fleet, the all-inclusive Athos carries 10 passengers on the Canal du Midi in Southern France.


With only six passengers, Nymphea is one of the smallest European Waterways' barges and has a draft shallow enough to sail on the River Cher in France's Loire Valley.

Scottish Highlander

With roomy cabins compared to most hotel barges, Scottish Highlander carries eight passengers around the locks and canals of Scotland's Loch Ness, serving regional cuisine and designing local excursions - including golf.

Shannon Princess

With 10 passengers, the custom-built hotel river barge Shannon Princess II sails in Ireland from the Lough Ree down the Shannon River to Killaloe.


Enchante joined European Waterways in 2009 as a luxury hotel barge with a capacity of eight passengers, sailing Southern France on the Canal du Midi and Rhone River.

L'Art de Vivre

The eight-passenger L'Art de Vivre hotel barge cruises along Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, France, an infrequently traveled canal; all meals, open bar and most excursions are included.

La Nouvelle Etoile

The eight-passenger La Nouvelle Etoile hotel river barge cruises the canals and waterways of France, Holland, Germany and Luxembourg.

Magna Carta

The eight-passenger Magna Carta hotel river barge sails along England's River Thames, one of the few to do so.


The eight-passenger Renaissance hotel river barge cruises Western Burgundy and the Upper Loire.

La Bella Vita

The 20-passenger La Bella Vita was added to the European Waterways fleet in 2010. The refurbished barge sails from Venice to Mantua via Italy's famous Canal of the Orphans and Bianco Canal.


European Waterways' eight-passenger Rosa is a former Dutch "clipper" barge completely refitted in 2010.

Clair de Lune

The six-passenger Clair de Lune is a former freight barge that used to transport cocoa, and was converted into a luxury hotel barge in 1998.

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