To coincide with the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle, European Waterways is launching a new and exclusive “Royal Cruise,” which navigates the Thames River aboard the eight-passenger Magna Carta hotel barge. Created through a special arrangement between European Waterways and members of several historic households, the cruise offers private guided tours of castles and stately homes, as well as onboard luxuries and gourmet meals.
Among itinerary highlights, the vessel moors beneath Windsor Castle and guests enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour that includes St. George's Chapel—site of the pending nuptial—led by a serving Military Knight.
Throughout the cruise, guests will see notable sights along the English countryside, including royal palaces, homes and sites related to British history. Among these is Highclere Castle, home of the Earl of Carnarvon and the “real” Downton Abbey, where guests will be given exclusive access to the house and grounds in the company of members of the household. Guests also visit Stonor Park, one of the oldest, and still inhabited, stately homes, where William Stonor, son of the present Baron Camoys and heir to the title, shows guests around with a private tour.
Other exclusive tours include Dorney Court, a 15th-century Tudor Manor House. Guests will also indulge in a traditional English afternoon tea at the 350-year-old Cliveden estate—former home to William Waldorf Astor—and enjoy a tour of the grounds that include a Parterre, Chinese water garden and topiary.
Originally built in the 1930s, the Magna Carta has a saloon and dining area with large, picture windows. The vessel also comes with modern amenities such as underfloor heating, air conditioned ensuite cabins and Wi-Fi.
Available as a whole-boat charter of the Magna Carta, rates start at $48,700 (or $6,087 per person) for the six-night, all-inclusive itinerary. According to European Waterways, departures in 2018 for a “Royal Cruise” charter are limited. However, cabins for “Classic Cruises”, which offer similar itineraries—though without some of the exclusive experiences on the “Royal Cruise”—are still available.