Whilst initially the majority of our crew join as seasonal staff, many return year after year and learn alternative skills which all help make a life afloat both interesting and rewarding. For over 35 years, we have been operating vessels on the enchanting inland waterways of Europe. We have had several circumstances where crew have joined the lower ranks and have gone on to eventually own their own hotel barges after several years of working for us. Please take a look at our video below to see what we are all about.
The Captain is the key figure on any hotel barge. With overall responsibility for the vessel, crew and passengers, the Captain needs to be an energetic person, able to motivate their crew and have excellent leadership, communication and inter-personal skills. They need to be able to liaise at all levels and have a first-class knowledge of both their vessel and the cruise area.
The Captain is responsible for the overall management of the barge. Supported by full back-up teams in both the UK and France, the Captain must ensure that their vessel is always in good working order and maintain the highest of standards on board. As team-leader they must ensure that every crewmember is carrying out their duties correctly and be prepared to take part in any crew duty where necessary.
Apart from driving the barge, the Captain may lead some of the excursions together with the Tour Leader. Through their excellent customer service skills they need to be able to make their passengers feel safe and relaxed, and should always be easily accessible to them. Guests often enjoy joining the Captain in the wheel-house and experiencing the cruise from the “driving seat”. The last evening is the Captain’s dinner at which the Captain is host.
Behind the scenes there is paperwork to be completed such as accounts and cruise logs.
In France a French canal passenger licence is required and fluent French is recommended.
This is a challenging role requiring a dynamic and flexible individual who is confident and at ease in company, and can use their initiative to solve problems.
A passion for barging and a genuine interest in hospitality are the two key elements required in a European Waterways Pilot. As the crewmember central to navigation and responsible for the appearance and effective operation of the hotel barge, they will need to have good mechanical skills and an eye for detail as well as lots of energy and a dynamic personality.
The principal job of the Pilot is to steer the vessel, negotiating the most intimate canals andrivers,securing it through locks, and mooring. Hotel barging is not without its risks, and so a high level of responsibility and careful piloting skill is required, with regard to the passenger’s safety, other crewmembers, and yourself.
An important part of the Pilot’s role is the maintenance of the barge. Within the fleet we have both 30m x 5m and 39m x 5m hotel barges, each with 3 engines – a main 150hp -250hp engine and two 30 kva 220 volt generators. Working knowledge of these is essential as mechanical checks – oil, water, filters etc. – need to be regularly undertaken in the engine room, as well as first line repairs where necessary. This may include occasional attention to the central heating, air conditioning and electrical systems. All our hotel barges undergo a comprehensive winter maintenance program and during the season if on rare occasions urgent mechanical repairs are required, assistance is provided by the European Waterways Operations Manager and local technicians.
General maintenance includes cleaning the decks in the mornings, putting out and putting away/securing of deck furniture and cushions. Painting, varnishing and oiling as and when required. It will require rope work in the locks and moorings, and lifting and carrying short distances potentially heavy items such as gangplanks. As such it requires a good level of health and practicality.
Ideally a hotel barge pilot should already have the appropriate country or regional specific or European barge driving licence with a passenger carrying endorsement.
Applicants with sound mechanical and/or hospitality skills and a desire to learn but without a barge driving licence can join us as a trainee pilot and study for the appropriate licence which takes 1-2 years. A clean driving licence is also required. An ability to speak French and English is desired.
The post of Tour Guide requires a dynamic and flexible individual who is a good communicator and has a genuine love of history, culture and gastronomy.
The Tour Guide must have a genuine interest in the region, and the subjects of the visits. Specific knowledge of the set tours can and must be learnt prior to the start of the season.
It is also important to have a selection of alternative tours throughout the cruise area, which have been well considered. The Tour Guide is the principle van driver in the team, and must take this responsibility very seriously. Passenger safety is paramount, at all times.
As driver, they will also take responsibility for the good maintenance of the van. The van must remain perfectly clean, even during inclement weeks. Water and oil levels and tyre pressures must be regularly checked. They should be proud of the vehicle, avoiding shameful scratches and dents at all costs. Employment for this post is very much conditional on the person being capable and confident in driving passengers under quite difficult conditions. (Narrow towpaths, small villages, motorways and cities).
A good knowledge of French and English, a clean driving licence and an enthusiastic approach to work are desired.
A hotel barge holiday along the smaller canals and rivers is all about exploring a region in slow comfortable detail; through the cruise, the tours, and especially the local cuisine. So the dishes we serve should be a well-researched variety from the region in a first instance, other national dishes second, and maybe include the Chef’s own culinary speciality. There is certainly scope for individual flair and creativity.
The Chef must have a good working knowledge of food in general, French cuisine in particular, and have an active interest in the food of the region. They will need to be able to demonstrate good presentation skills, all cooking methods, roasting, baking, cake making, etc.
A weekly menu will include five lunches and six dinners and some breakfasts, with one main meal taken ashore by your passengers. Also cooking for your fellow crew members and preparing crew food for the weekend is essential for a happy boat!
Lunches can be plated or buffet, but ideally should include both. The evening meals are more formal,
and usually consist of four courses, starter, main, cheese and desert with perhaps an amuse bouche to create a perfect balance of flavours and interest.
The Chef selects the weekly menu having taken careful notes of any likes, dislikes, allergies, health conditions and seasonal produce available at the beginning of the week. All main meals are introduced and explained by the Chef to passengers.
The hotel barge galley is the Chef’s domain, and safety, cleanliness, and food hygiene are the up-most priorities and the responsibility of the Chef. It is essential that the Chef has suitable training and holds relevant certificates. Safety must include awareness and management of all safety equipment. Food hygiene must correspond to the strict norms of the restaurant industry.
The Chef is also responsible for shopping, stock management and bookkeeping.
A driving licence, a good knowledge of French (where appropriate) and good spoken English are desired.
Host / Hostess
A barge Host / Hostess is a position for someone who is organised and untiring. As well as being there for the guests, ensuring their comfort and foreseeing their needs, there is the housework and upkeep of the boat interior, preparing the table and serving the meals. A high level of customer service experience is essential.
Being a Host/ess on a barge can be very enjoyable for someone who enjoys meeting people and looking
after them, who can get on with cleaning chores, and who has an aesthetic eye and a sense of pride, who can be rewarded by beautifully arranged flowers, shining brass and immaculate bathrooms.
There are three main areas of responsibility - clients, interior housework and housekeeping. The Steward/ess should seem to always be there for the guests. Serving at mealtimes, preparing aperitifs and drinks both before mealtimes and on return from excursions, is all part of the Host/esses’ formidable role.
Interior housework includes daily cleaning of cabins, bathrooms and saloon, setting the tables for mealtimes, watering plants and flowers, keeping the bar stocked up, and ice frozen and available. It is the housekeeping roles which really require a Host/ess to be organised. They need to keep on top of laundry, cleaning, ironing, and tidy storage.
If you are interested in any of the vacancies above please contact Isabelle Price HR Manager with your C.V. at firstname.lastname@example.org