A 38-metre hybrid barge on order from Isle of Wight-based Hybrid Marine is fuelling an emerging market for the exploration of European canals and inland waterways.
Catering for the affluent over-50s market, Saga Holidays is among several operators offering week-long itineraries that combine a morning cruise aboard a newly commissioned barge, afternoon sightseeing on a coach and evening hotel stays.
The Hybrid Marine barge, which will be delivered before the end of the third quarter of 2018, features a 19-metre air-conditioned lounge that can seat 60 people, and an outside viewing deck with awning.
The company has commissioned up to 12 battery-diesel barges, the first of which, Natalia, is under construction at Meuse and Sambre at Lierge, Belgium.
Each of the 100-tonne displacement barges will be fitted with 300kWh of battery capacity, enough to drive the motors and air-conditioning for five hours at 5km per hour within the canal system. There’s also a 6kW solar panel array on the roof.
The first orders will include two hybrid engines delivering 20kW of electric drive and 15kW of generating ability.
The non-accommodation barge will carry 56 passengers for Saga.
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