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(TRAVPR.COM) UNITED KINGDOM - April 6th, 2013 - European Waterways, Europe's largest luxury hotel barge cruising company, is offering an exciting array of culture-rich excursions on its luxury hotel barge cruises in England, Ireland, and Scotland, including newly added tours for the 2013 season. Among these, a visit to the castle where the very popular TV series, "Downton Abbey" is filmed in England.

"Our cruise excursions highlight some of the fascinating local culture, history, and beauty of each region, as well as help our guests experience some of the real-life settings made famous by their favorite movies and television dramas," said Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. "Best of all, these unique excursions, including entry fees to castles, vineyards, markets and other local places of interest, are part of the all-inclusive price of European Waterways' barge cruises."

Down the Thames to "Downton Abbey"
Meandering down the famous River Thames in England, cruises aboard luxury hotel barge Magna Carta feature royal adventures to majestic castles, palaces and cathedrals that are literally "fit for a king."

For select departures on Magna Carta's classic cruises, the company has added a new excursion to Highclere Castle, setting for the renowned PBS period drama series, "Downton Abbey". The hugely impressive Victorian castle sits on an expansive 1,000 acre estate surrounded by gardens, and is the iconic home to the fictional Crawley family on the show. The "real" Downton Abbey has been owned by the Carnarvon family since 1679, where Lord and Lady Carnarvon still live today.

"There is a real similarity between life at Downton Abbey and a sedate voyage aboard the 75-year-old hotel barge Magna Carta along the Royal River Thames - the grace and elegance of a bygone age, combined with impeccable service, fine wines and gourmet cuisine," noted Banks.

The cruise itinerary also features a private tour of Dorney Court, a beautiful Tudor home on the banks of the Thames, where "Elizabeth", "The Other Boleyn Girl", and Agatha Christie's series "Poirot" were all filmed. The cruise concludes with a tour of Christ Church, one of the most prestigious colleges at the University of Oxford and one of the settings for Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". An excellent video of European Waterway's Magna Carta cruise in England is available on Youtube.

The Scottish Highlands - Land of Legend and Conflict
European Waterways' luxury hotel barge, The Scottish Highlander, cruises along the Caledonian Canal through varied lochs (the Scottish term for lakes) across the sprawling Scottish Highlands. Featured in nine videos on European Waterways' YouTube page, the tours on these cruises traverse Scotland's medieval wonders, beautiful scenery and wildlife, and rich battle history.

The cruises tour the charming village of Fort Augustus, gateway to the famous Loch Ness, before visiting the magnificent Eilean Donan Castle, setting for the film "Highlander", which sits ideally positioned on an island where three lochs meet. Once destroyed in the Jacobite Risings, the picturesque medieval castle is set against mountainous scenery, often affording sightings of dolphins and otters.

Excursions will further explore the battle history of the Jacobite Risings, a series of rebellions across the British Isles in the 17th and 18th centuries, with visits to Culloden Moor, site of the last battle on British soil where the Jacobites were defeated in 1746, and to the battlefields of the massacre of Glencoe.

The Craft of Local Irish Specialties
Shannon Princess II is the only luxury hotel barge navigating the picturesque inner lakes and canals of Ireland and the cruise itineraries feature truly unique excursions for exploring the folklore and majestic landscape of the "Emerald Isle." For 2013, European Waterways has added new tours that emphasize the artisanal craft of local Irish specialities, allowing guests to experience first-hand the age-old traditions that tell the story of Ireland's past and present cultures.

Shannon Princess II cruises now visit the Kilbeggan Distillery, the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world, which dates back to 1757. Before tasting some of Kilbeggan's finest, guests will witness the traditional method for making whiskey, which originated from age-old pot stills in this classic Irish distillery.

Also new to the itinerary are visits to Meadowsweet Farm, where the owner will reward visitors with samples of wild Irish honey and other organic produce grown at the farm. Guests will also visit Mossfield Organic Farm, set on lush pastoral fields at the foot of a mountain, where they will taste award-winning Gouda cheeses made from fresh, organic ingredients.

"Whether touring a royal palace in England, a dairy farm in Ireland, or a historic battlefield in Scotland, these daily excursions are part of the overall cultural experience we provide our guests," said Banks. "We are continuously adding to and updating our itineraries with new tours, ensuring the most authentic and interesting adventures in every cruise."

About European Waterways
The hotel barging experience is different from large vessel river cruising. It offers a slower paced, "gentle voyage of discovery" along the more intimate canals and waterways of Europe, allowing a small number of guests to become more fully immersed in the culture, history and gastronomy of the region. European Waterways is Europe's largest all-inclusive luxury hotel barging company, offering vacations in nine countries and carrying over 2,000 passengers a year. Founded nearly 40 years ago, they own, operate and market a private fleet of luxury hotel barges with cruises in France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Pioneers in hotel barging, they were the first company to operate a hotel barge on the Upper Nivernais in Burgundy, and the "real" Loire Valley. They are also the only cruise company offering barge cruises in Scotland and in the Venetian lagoon and River Po valley. Please visit for more information.


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