Eleven years of happy guests
Two years after our first magical experience on Nilaya, here we are again. Time has been rewound and that old magic has enchanted us again. Some things don't change - Kevin is as irrepressibly puckish as ever, as buoyant as his beautiful craft, wicked in humour, exquisite in culinary delights, unremittingly incapable of reining in his appetite for good living and shamelessly insulting to crew and guests (we love it really!) So that's what we came back for and we've not been disappointed. Superb time onboard, thank you both. See you again - We promise!
G & R - Flintshire, Wales
Kevin, we enjoyed every moment of quiet bucolic French countryside you offered us aboard Nilaya. Having reached the end of our tour, I wonder where we would have been without experiencing this quiet contrast to what our lives in the California rat race used to be. Whether is was political debate with you and Rod over dinner and the sunset or chugging along for 6km trying to catch Barge Nilaya, we had a great time.
K M & D D - California, USA
A great week had by all. Thank you Kevin and Rod for your hospitality, culinary skills and boatmanship. All the best for the rest of the season and we will gladly mention your lovely barge to our friends back in oz
H & D + D & B - Queensland, Australia
Let me say that I rarely write comments in any book for anybody. This experience has been so good that I have to put pen to paper! The combination of pleasant diverse scenery together with wonderful hosting by Kevin and Rod (Spike Milligan reincarnated) made the experience an absolute joy. When I return home, I will tell everyone in Oz absolutely nothing! I'd like to be able to come back again and be able to afford it! Thanks guys. You have been the perfect hosts.
K & M - Sydney, Australia
"The Meuse is a river of such wild beauty and unexpected interest that one does not need to be a boatman to share in the delight as one moves upstream, lock by lock" wrote Roger Pilkington in his book "Small boat on the Meuse". How true this is as we found in a wonderful week with Kevin and Rod on Nilaya. A reckoning of the soul through great passion and enthusiasm for barging and the river Meuse; great food, wines and humour shared with great friends. Many thanks for a wonderful experience of river life in Western Europe.
L & B - Sydney, Australia
"Magical" is an appropriate description for the Meuse and our excellent experiences on it. We loved everything from the quiet majestic lushness, to the red pepper sorbet, and even the rare 'figment' kingfisher. As you know, we even welcomed the rains! Thank you for being such great people and sharing the river with us in such a fine fashion.
The T Family - Arizona, USA
'Ola'! Kevin and Rod! Your first bunch of South Africans eh? and hopefully we weren't too noisy or incomprehensible! We like to think that you learned a few things about our part of the world - we certainly know 100% more about barging and river life than we ever thought possible - and Jose becoming so fluent in French in so short a time is nothing short of miraculous!! We have loved our time in your home, all the superlatives apply, even the temperamental weather did not dampen our delight. We gave you our feedback - all constructive!! Please let us know if you intend to explore Burgundy next year (2010) as we would seriously consider coming again.
P & J + J & B - South Africa
Barge Nilaya and cruise was everything we hoped for and more. The scenery along the Meuse was wonderful. Serenity is how I would describe these days along the river. Cruising in the morning and beginning of the afternoon and then exploring in the afternoon make for wonderful days. Food and wine, breakfast, lunch and beef bourguignon were excellent. Greatly enjoyed the BBQ. It was a most wonderful learning experience about barging thru locks. Kevin and Rod are terrific hosts!
A & B - Washington, USA
Thank you so much for your excellent hospitality, your comfortable cabins, beds, the fantastic 5 course dinner and wine. We had a wonderful six days cruising this most beautiful region of France. We will have lovely memories. Many thanks again.
R & S - Queensland, Australia
We were looking for a relaxing week to enjoy being with family and to travel at a more relaxed pace. We got that.... and more! The geraniums, lettuce and herbs growing prolifically and neatly on the top of Barge Nilaya were our first sign of Kevin's extraordinary attention to detail. From the website we had an idea of what Barge Nilaya would look like (it more than lived up to those photos!) but we didn't know that Kevin and his first mate Rod would make us feel like honoured guests right from the beginning, which included Kevin's five course gourmet meal and Rods willingness to schlep it all out to the picnic table and back! From the fresh cut flowers, to the bikes made ready for us to ride, the cushions being whisked in and out for our comfort, Rod and Kevin quietly saw to it that we had everything we needed. This week was a pleasure! Thank you.
J & A + J & G - South Carolina, USA
A perfect holiday for relaxing and unwinding afte a busy few weeks in the UK. We were made very welcome by Kevin and Rod and soon we were settled in. The days that followed were absolutely great, the scenery was fantastic, the company was fantastic, the food Kevin cooked was unbelievable, beds were comfortable and we slept very well, will recommend this holiday to any of our friends who want to 'veg out' and relax. Thanks Kevin and Rod for everything.
D & T - Queensland, Australia
Thanks to Kevin and Rod for a wonderful introduction to barge cruising in France. The experience exceeded all our expectations - great food, lively conversation, beautiful rural scenery, helpful tips on hiking and biking opportunities. Much appreciation!
J & M - Wyoming, USA
Dear Kevin and Rod. We have had a very pleasant time on Nilaya!! The four of us met up after three and a half years and had a lot to catch up with - added to all that you looked after us in all ways not only with a first class dinner and lunches, but also with funny comments and interesting history going past us on the Meuse. Being the first Swedes, we also sorted out some misunderstandings about Vikings and then of course, the language! Someone said "until they find a better word, thank you will have to do."
B A - Stockholm, Sweden
Charleville. The end of a dream holiday. Having Nilaya as a floating home for six days / nights has been a wonderful experience for a land locked mid westerner. The adventure was made all the more pleasant and Wonderful by the hospitality and kindness of our host, Captain Kevin and mate Rod. These are two greatly intelligent and informative, as well as entertaining chaps! Having bikes to ride leisurely, alongside Nilaya was a pleasant experience, with the exception perhaps of the rear end! Many thanks for the cuisine, company and entertaining time. We will plan for a return voyage sometime in the future. A dream come true! I cannot think of any trip I have enjoyed as much as this cruise on the Meuse.
J & J - Wisconsin, USA
It was a wonderful trip and exceeded all our expectations. Great river valley, great barge, great hosts!
D & C - California, USA
OK. Where to start? There were so many highlights during this trip - from the beautiful scenery, to the lazy days barging on the Meuse. From Kevin's excellent meal to interesting tidbits about the French countryside. Yes it was more than we expected. The accommodations were comfortable and the meals were 1st class. One couldn't ask for more. Thank you Kevin for your wonderful hospitality and camaraderie. We'll remember this trip as one of our best!
M & G - New Jersey, USA
This is our second trip aboard Nilaya and we were mindful that it would be impossible to improve on the amazing experience of our first voyage in 2007 - Wrong! Kevin has even more stories to tell, the gorgeous Nilaya has matured like a stinky French cheese and the weather has been unbelievable for Europe! The opportunity to share this experience with the witty, pretty and naughty Isabelle, flavoured the two weeks better than any spices in a Kevin gourmet delight and god, can she cook too!! Isabelle, we love you.... You can remain detached or immerse yourself in the experience. Either will have you captivated by the solemnity of the war history of the region or the beauty of the scenery or diversity of the towns and villages or the craggy enchanting folk you meet. Offer to shop for a baguette or miss out on a pure delight! We sincerely hope that you enjoy this unique experience nearly as much as we did. You will leave Nilaya a different person than when you joined.
B & J - Queensland, Australia
This was my intro to a barge cruise down the Canal des Vosges, Epinal to Port sur Saone and I did not know what to expect. I will strongly recommend this back home. I know you can't promise the weather we had, but the scenery and cuisine were excellent. Plus, you guys are a lot of fun and easy to hang out with. And quite generous! You cooked us great meals all the time, and we always had fresh bread in the morning. Great wine collection! The bikes topped it off - allowing ample exploration and a fitness activity in an otherwise very relaxing time. I love the pace of life here.
D B - Washington, USA
So good to be back on a boat again! Especially happy to be aboard Nilaya, as she's the finest barge on the European waterways. We were proud to call her our home for a week. Kevin and Rod made a beautiful experience into an even greater experience by enlightening us about the French (as well as other Europeans!). There is nothing about this week that was bad, except that it had to end. Happy cruising! Hope to see you all again on another beautiful waterway.
M & D - Florida, USA
One always leaves the best 'till last. The very best! One week on Nilaya was so much more than we anticipated and of course the weather also helped. The simply delicious breakfasts, with fresh baguettes & croissants each morning at 8, 9 or even later some days, while Kevin & Rod were slogging away at getting us from point A to B, in this case from Port sur Saone to Dole. The lunches were always something to look forward to. Simply delicious with home (boat) grown glorious salads. On our first evening we had the most delicious snacks and then, later in the week, Chef Kevin's wonderful dinner. We enjoyed chatting with Rod, who was always ready with a witty answer. We have never had such a relaxing, fun filled week, thanks to both of you. There are so many things in life to do and so many places to go and just so many years, so there are few things to do over and this experience is worth doing over again. Drinking in this experience of France has left me see a far better existence through this journey called life and I like it. Thanks for a fantastic experience that will last me 'till the end of my time.
W & T - South Africa
Thank you for a wonderful time on Barge Nilaya. As you explained, her name means 'Heaven' and that's exactly what I experienced after four hectic weeks around Europe. It was great to chill, go at a barge's pace and relax. Loved the food, the cycling, and met Kevin and Rod. Fell in love with France! Taking home lots of memories and 'photos.
C & A - South Africa
Kevin & Rod, this was a trip we had dreamed of doing for many years and you surpassed our expectations. Nilaya is beautiful, and your love and care of her shows in so many ways. We loved seeing the beautiful countryside and learning all about traversing locks. Thank you for making our time aboard so enjoyable. You both worked so hard to make our trip one we'll remember for a long time. Thank you so much!
B & D - Colorado, USA
Nilaya - Thank you so much for a great trip down the canals of the Cote d'Or in Burgundy. This our first barge trip and I must say, a pleasant surprise. It surpassed our expectations. The barge is clean and fresh, the food is great and the company of the captain and mate, fun and enjoyable. We look forward to a return.
G & A - Colorado, USA
A heart felt thanks to our fearless Captain Kevin and his endearing first mate Rod. What a fabulous week... wonderful weather and sights, but most importantly, hospitality and warmth from Barge Nilaya Nilaya crew. We've got grand memories and even grander waistlines as we depart. We only hope to see you both again either on Barge Nilaya or in the States. You are always welcome in our home. And Rod is lucky we've got so little baggage or else he'd be coming back to Maine in Julia's suitcase! Thanks to you both for an anniversary to remember.
J & D - Maine, USA
Our trip exceeded all our expectations. It was two weeks of glorious weather, food and new friends. I felt supported when John was ill and encouraged. Thanks so much and we look forward to following your progress via the internet.
J & N - New Mexico, USA
Kevin & Rod. Thanks for a truly wonderful time aboard your truly wondrous vessel. Your welcoming approach and warm personalities as well as wicked senses of humour have been much appreciated! The amenities and catering were amazing - I had no idea that we would enjoy such comfort and gourmet delights! Whilst I was really looking forward to this aspect of my adventure, the cruise far exceeded any expectations I had. I would highly recommend this trip to other people. I wish you both all the best in future developments aboard! Thank you for a truly Wonderful and personal experience. I have had a great time and enjoyed the company of both passengers and crew alike! Best wishes.
M D - ACT, Australia
Thanks so much for the wonderful week of barge cruising. Your kindness in making the trip safe for me is greatly appreciated. Best wishes for continued success in life's ventures. Attention to diet requirements was superb.
D C & C S - Texas, USA
To our intrepid Captain and his all purpose crew, the indomitable Rod, you've made this a Wonderful cruise for us. The food and fellowship were superb! We wish you years of happy and successful cooperation and companionship. Our best wishes.
B & S - California, USA
Thank you for a wonderful vacation! While aboard the Nilaya, we didn't feel like guests, but rather like cherished sojourners on a great adventure. We have increased our vocabularies, expanded our palettes (and waistlines!) and developed an appetite for further travel. We have truly enjoyed your kind hospitality, your talents for barging and cooking with us. Kevin and Rod, best wishes for the winter and for future seasons aboard the Nilaya. You make a great team!
G & J - Florida, USA
Who could have imagined a holiday on a little piece of heaven, piloted by a gourmet chef, and assisted by such an affable crew! Our expectations were exceeded at every turn of the river. Quite a change from the frenetic pace of our normal routine! The meals were grand and the accommodations exceptional. Many thanks for your gracious hospitality.
D & S - Virginia, USA
After gallivanting around Spain, Portugal and France for over six weeks, we couldn't wait for our week on the barge. We were not disappointed! What a week it was and a wonderful way of seeing a glimpse of rural France. Of course, we ate too much and drunk too much, idled too much and talked too much but it all added up to perfection! Thank you Kevin for sharing your slice of heaven with us and thank you Rod for tolerating us in your crusty seadog manner. This will certainly be a memory to share, never to be forgotten.
A & A, - South Australia, Australia
Kevin - Thank you for inviting us to your home and for introducing us to your world. It has been a delight to be welcomed, informed, instructed and amused. In short, to be surprised by joy at every turn of the river and the conversation. So many unexpected pleasures in this short week on the Meuse. You and Barge Nilaya will be a part of our favourite memories. Thank you so very much for your generous hospitality.
B & G - Washington, USA
What a unique experience we have had, gently cruising the Meuse in the comfort of Barge Nilaya. (Even a bathtub - Heaven!) Being fed gourmet meals (I'll be trying to replicate the quiche and tartiflette) and venturing into the French villages and towns on the way, each one lovelier than the last. I have enjoyed every minute of the trip and am sorry it must come to an end. Thank you so much Kevin, and Rod too. Your company was the icing on the cake.
S P - Toronto, Canada
Kevin, last year we enjoyed two idyllic weeks with you onboard when we experienced the magic of La Meuse from Verdun to Dinant. We made a promise then that we would return. Here we are again after a three week cruise from Charleville-Mezieres to Paris. Once more, the cruise has met all of our expectations. What have we enjoyed the most? An even smarter barge to greet us on day one, better cordon-bleu class cooking and gathering a host of memories that will remain with us for a long time to come. We are beginning to believe that it is your abounding skills as a host and the barge herself that lure us to the French waterways - rather than the beauty and scenery alone. Your hospitality has been superb. The undoubted highlight was the fantastic entry in to Paris taking in the views from Barge Nilaya's deck. Sincere thanks to you and Rod for all your efforts.
R & P - Suffolk, England
Thank you for a fab week. We have learnt lots about barges, life in France and life generally. Hoping to buy a barge in France and hope to meet you guys again to exchange stories and enjoy a glass of wine. Rod, you have added real value to our week both in terms of information and company.
J & D - Essex, UK
The Champagne welcome and the pace of the rest of the week - a pleasure on all levels. Barge Nilaya, her skipper and crew made sure we had a delightful stay. Comfortable and well fed. Thank you!
J L - Toronto, Canada
A big thank you to Kevin and Rod for making our week so enjoyable! We thought last year was great but this year was even better. The scenery in the Champagne region was amazing and so was the wine!! Kevin, as always was the font of all knowledge!! Food on board was great - we now have to go home to diet and get ready for next year!!! The boys enjoyed fishing and boating while the girls enjoyed cycling along the towpaths. Can't wait to do it all again!
H & R's - Canary Islands and Surrey, England
It has been wonderful! Enough said!
S M - Toronto, Canada
A fantastic journey experiencing France like no other and a crew that became friends. This is what memories are made of. Thanks for everything.
M & B - New York, USA
To Kevin as skipper and Bud as the most able of crew, we extend our thanks for introducing us to cruising on the beautiful 'La Meuse'. Your hospitality was unbounded, your sense of humour unique and your cooking just out of this world. We wish you every success in the years ahead and will undoubtedly return to you again to check on your progress.
R & P - Suffolk, England
Kevin. We have sometimes sat beside canals saying "we wonder what it would be like to cruise on a barge." Well, now we have and we wouldn't have missed it for anything. The really great thing about Barge Nilaya is that it is not just a means of transport, but your home and major life project. You have done a fantastic job with the barge and through your enthusiasm for river life, have enabled us to experience a little of the relaxing and beautiful Meuse. Thanks for being such excellent and tolerant hosts for the week.
S & D - Victoria, Australia
Long awaited and after months of eager speculation, "Kevin's cruise" has far exceeded all that anticipation. From the daily exposure to Kevin's lively anecdotes, instantaneous social comment, sardonic quips and - worst of all, his knees, this has been an immensely enjoyable holiday. Best of all we've had FUN! Master chef extraordinaire, Kevin could rustle up a 10 course meal while still organising that well known event in a brewery. We've been new places, seen new faces, countless doggies and moggies, and learnt to say hello / goodbye in 10 new languages. Eat your heart out Dame Edna fans and go for the "Kevin Experience" instead. Wish we could 'second time' and replay the week ad-infinitum, the joy and fun we've had, perhaps stop time and relish those moments and places that make life worth living.
G & R - Flintshire, Wales
Wow! First impressions of the barge were really good, only to get better each day. We've had SUCH FUN! We've tried to work off our extra 10 kilos each day by cycling but it didn't work. Back home to lettuce leaves - how boring... Already looking forward to coming back next year. We really have felt part of cosy boating family. Thank you for your efforts, friendship and hospitality.
H & R's - Surrey, England
This was our first tip to Europe together and it was Barge Nilaya trip that really gave us the desire to come. We were not disappointed. The trip met all our expectations and offered even more, despite the rather dull weather. You made us very welcome from the minute you met us in the street in Givet to the time we left the ship. Thank you so much. Your knowledge of the Meuse and the villages along the way made the trip that much more enjoyable. Congratulations on your achievements in making Barge Nilaya such a comfortable home for the week and I hope we get to see it again sometime in the future. We will certainly recommend you to our friends back in Australia.
B & H - Melbourne, Australia
Merci Beaucoup for great food, wine and company during our trip. Uncooperative weather did not dampen our spirits! Highlights included the tour of Chatel-sur-Moselle with our 80+ year old guide and tree lined canals, rolling countryside and Moselle River from Toul. Expert boat handling too. Your barge was a comfortable and classy home for six nights.
J & R - California, USA
Kevin, every time we return to the barge, something new has happened! Hospitality as usual was lovely, no effort spared to make us welcome. We look forward to joining you again.
C & B - Somerset, England
The trip was unforgettable and inspiring
J S - ACT, Australia
We paid for a holiday but what we were graciously provided with - WAS PRICELESS. Normally to achieve this requires hours of chanting and candle burning in large brick buildings with domed roofs; throwing countless coins into a stone lined hole with a bucket and string or even dancing naked around odd shaped rocks laid out in a stone circle. Each night was filled with equal measures of joy; incredulity; surprise; French wine and delicious food. We would lay back in our oasis at the pointy end of the ship and reflect on the excitement and experiences our day on Barge Nilaya had provided and wonder how on earth this could be repeated or bettered the next blissful day. What Kevin has transformed from concept or should we say hallucination to reality is a minor miracle and he has so obviously drawn on his incredible strengths, talents, imagination and most of all his boundless passion. Money can't buy happiness and no amount of wealth could buy anything more un-contrived or magical than our experience on board Barge Nilaya as Kevin's new found friends. As much as we want to keep this our very own secret, we will find the highest rooftops and exploit whatever communication miracles we can muster to ensure we spread the word so as many people as possible can be touched by the "MAGIC"! It would be criminal to keep it a secret - or would it? Thank you sincerely Kevin - We will be back!
B & J, Queensland Australia
Reeelaxing and calming thanks to Kevin and Stef beavering around and taking good care of our every needs. Good food and chats. Lucky too with our fellow passengers with whom we had so much in common. Barge Nilaya has been converted with great taste - Well done Kevin! Many many thanks.
S & M, Australia
My horoscope for September said that the week beginning on the 9th would be "one for the memory book". It most certainly has been in the best possible way. We've had a lovely time this week on board Barge Nilaya. The catering has exceeded my expectations and you have given a lot of thought in attention to detail such as the fresh fruit and flowers. We've enjoyed the cruising more than I expected, the fine meals and your company and have experienced a flavour of France that we would otherwise not have. Well done. Thank you... and all the best for your futures (ad)ventures!
C.H & P.K, Portsmouth, England
The trip on Barge Nilaya was a welcoming respite from our hectic touring. However for us the most Wonderful and enjoyable aspect of the trip was the excellent company and associated good times. Wonderful food and wine enhanced the experience. Many thanks.
D & M, Australia
We would like to thank Kevin for a very Wonderful holiday on the Meuse. His hospitality is remarkable and he makes you feel at home from day one. Nothing is too much trouble. The meals on board my barge are first class, all due to Kevin's hard work and enthusiasm for cooking. We cannot leave without mentioning Stef's contribution (keep practicing the rope tricks!) He has a wicked sense of humour and he and Kevin make a great double act. Thank you both and we wish you well in your future ventures. Best wishes.
H & S - Gloucestershire, England
What can be added to the above! We second all of H & S's comments! It was a great experience, peppered with 'pomme de terrier' moments, the occasional sexy horse woman and French roosters! These have been days filled with discovery and laughter - long to be remembered. Our thanks to you both.
A & E - British Columbia, Canada
Kevin. Thanks for providing us with the best "self-catering" barge cruise anyone could wish for. You are an energetic, thoughtful host who allowed me a week of complete relaxation, more laughter than I've had in a year, really good food and the security and comfort of being a well cared for guest. I've wanted to do a barge cruise for 30-years and my dream has now been fulfilled. Thank you for sharing your absolutely lovely corner of heaven. As for the "redundant" crew Stef - thanks for your charming wit, scintillating repartee, and willingness to put up with three American women who can cause wine to magically disappear and drive you to drink! Have a short and fruitful winter. I hope to see you again.
L. StJ - United States of America
The plan was to cruise the canals of France with my two good friends. In the end, I cruised it with four good friends. Through the puns on "Mon Capitan" to the barbs of "First Mate" Stef, anyone would have thought we'd known each other for years and not just met less than a week earlier. I've learned so much about barges, French canals, cooking, British history, American politics - - and the joys of travel, the experience has been so complete that one could find oneself owning a barge before the next season begins. That is all due to Kevin's wonderful sense of people and his "lady" Barge Nilaya. Happy cruising!
L.H - United States of America
Kevin. So glad that my first visit to Europe was with you. Your advice, directions, maps and great brown beer made every day run smoothly. Thank you for letting me be a mermaid on your deck and to see France from the waters edge.
Having freedom in your galley made Barge Nilaya feel like home. Good luck with your gardening project, it is a great touch. Thanks for such a pleasurable time.
F.H - British Columbia, Canada
This is a definite do again experience and one that will bring up memories for a lifetime. Relax on a barge, watch life go by at 4 knots, I don't think so! Peddle all day, party, party, get up, do it all again. Or did we get it all wrong? Anyway, we had a blast Kevin, you're a great host, plain and simply put and your barge / home / party machine is the best and it's a work in progress!
P & K.P - British Columbia, Canada
What can be said but a sincere "thank you" for a wonderful boating experience. Your hospitality, knowledge of France was awesome and your sense of humour amazing.
The P Family - Ontario, Canada
The craic was excellent. Good food, plentiful wine / beer and the worst puns I've ever heard. I ate too much, drunk too much and laughed a lot.
Best of all, we felt like family, sharing a very special experience together! I'm sure that we'll meet up again soon.
J.H - London, England
It has been a delight every moment. What you have done is give us the perfect experience on Barge Nilaya. Thank you so much for being the best host in every way. We have loved living aboard in the classy comfort you provide, good food, great company. A memory to cherish.
B & L - London, England
Thanks a lot for the wonderful time we spent together. You were very interesting and thoughtful guys. Also Kevin, for your organisation of the whole trip getting it together for us all.
M & C - Melbourne, Australia
Thank you for the wonderful trip and all the helpful information. Maybe our paths will cross again should we take the plunge next year.
R & J - Lancashire, England
Thank you for the wonderful visit. The tour of the canals, locks, plus food / wine / beer all was a great treat. Barge Nilaya is a perfect base for bicycle trips.
Coming back to a spanking clean barge for a shower and a great meal after a cycle trip is a great way to go. This was the perfect of days.
R.K - British Columbia, Canada
I wanted to say thank you again for your kindness toward us. It was such an addition to our trip to have traveled with you. The gourmet feasts, the levity and the good company were very much appreciated. I know we both will cherish our memories of that part of our trip.
A.S - British Columbia, Canada
Click HERE to read what two guests wrote to online TravelMag about their time aboard Barge Nilaya
All the original comments published above or within this website can be viewed in the visitors book that resides aboard Barge Nilaya.