Battlefield cruising on Backwaters Tours Natalia

Spirit of Remembrance is proud to partner with Backwater Cruises to develop and bring you a FULL RANGE of Battlefield Tour/Cruises (and general French regional canal boat tours!) in late 2019 - early 2020 - covering all the main WW1 & WW2 Battlefields in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Please do not hesitate to contact us also for any special groups you might have for this exciting new cruise & touring option - we welcome tailor made and special groups!

Backwater Cruises is a revolutionary new breakthrough for modern canal boat cruising in Europe for 2018-2019. In France and Belgium alone there is some 10,000 km of navigable inland waterways, mostly on lesser rivers and canals not accessible to larger vessels - especially 'so called' 'liveaboard' large canal boats. Big hotel boats cannot travel on these lesser waterways and whilst some small converted barges do operate as hotel-cruisers on the minor waterways, they are relatively limited in scale and their number of passengers and are quite an expensive option.

We explore these extensive and attractive French "backwater canals" using our high-comfort and modern day canal boat whilst we stay in a nearby hotel overnight, with many regular cruise passengers quite liking the novelty and relative freedom of being on dry land morning and evening - especially to stay in the same hotel room for multiple nights and explore local attractions and restaurants!


 'Natalia', the first of Backwater Cruises revolutionary new electric powered canal cruise boats  accommodates up to 50 persons in relaxed and spacious comfort.


(A word from Backwaters Cruises CEO: Mr Lynn Woods) "Our 2019 season starts in March 2019 with a succession of short breaks in Northern France, and after Easter we make our way south through Champagne region to Paris and onwards by mid-May to Northern Burgundy where we spend the rest of the season. We have integrated many themes and interests into the 2019 programme including our initial battlefield tour program (much more in 2020!) and music, birdwatching, antiques and food & wine - there so there is  something for everyone!



Cruise boat features Include:

  • Outside viewing deck with sun awning
  • Spacious 19-metre air-conditioned lounge which can comfortably seat 55 persons
  • An onboard  galley serving drinks, including free mineral water, tea and coffee available all the time• 
  • Wine served with a light lunch, usually supplied by a local boulangerie
  • A range of prestigious local wines - including Chablis, Bordeaux, Sancerre and Crémant de Bourgogne – which can be purchased by the bottle to enjoy during your cruise
  • Bikes available to hire at no cost if you're feeling energetic and wish to cycle the towpath :-)
  • Two toilets on board, including one suitable for wheelchair users.

(Up to two wheelchairs users can be accommodated on board also)

Backwaters Tours and Cruises explore these attractive unspoilt "backwaters" using their NEW premium - comfort day boat for half and full day cruising whilst you stay in a nearby hotel overnight. In a typical cruising week, you can expect to do about 90 km at a very gentle pace interrupted by locks, lift bridges and even the occasional tunnel. And - with lovely flat towpaths all the way beside the boat - hop off - and take a gentle walk after lunch - or if you are really feeling the need to get out into the countryside -  hop on one of the free bikes provided for passengers on the cruise and ride your bike on the towpaths - the choice is yours! Enjoy the best of both worlds!


This new concept in canal boat cruising in France means you usually stay within range of one central - easily reached hotel all week by coach - without having to travel any excessive distances on the coach. Most days, the boat will cruise in the morning and, after lunch on board, visit the battlefields with your expert Battlefield Guide - along with other great excursions such as grand chateaux, gardens, vineyards and historic towns and villages. It's an ideal way to see the real France at your leisure and especially suitable for learning about the war-torn WW1 & WW2 hIstory of these countries with our battlefield touring options!


Backwaters Cruises also work closely with local country French providers to bring you a superb taste of France for lunch while aboard the boat. During your cruise you can expect to enjoy a local cheese-board with fresh baguettes, quiche, delicious local hams and cheeses and smoked sausage. Not forgetting of course the delicious cakes from the local patisserie! And - Wine (French of course!) is free (!) with lunch along with an endless supply of water, tea and coffee.


Backwaters Tours' boat is hybrid electric/diesel engine-powered and usually charges overnight from shore supply. Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, and the saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system.

Australian tours

Spirit of Remembrance Ltd. ANZAC's Remembered (20-25 Apr 2020)

ANZAC's Remembered (20-25 Apr 2020)

 (Includes Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux on the 25 April 2020   When The Great War came to an end in 1918 Australia was left to come to terms with a war which, on the Western Front alone, had cost Australia 48,000 dead (* and including Gallipoli, over 60,000 dead) and over 156,000 wounded.  Militarily, the ANZAC reputation stood sky-high at the end of the war and along with the Canadians, they were regarded as among the most elite fighting troops in the British Expeditionary Force – tough, battle hardened and ruthless, they were greatly feared by the Germans and grudgingly admired even by their nemesis - the British High Command. On this very special tour we follow in their footsteps to the places where the Australian reputation was established on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918. Along the way we shall hear tales of enormous courage, endurance and sacrifice that will both inspire and humble, culminating in the amazing and very moving Villers-Bretonneux Anzac Day Ceremony. Images:

Spirit of Remembrance Ltd. ANZAC Day Ex.Paris (25 Apr 2020)

ANZAC Day Ex.Paris (25 Apr 2020)

Introduction: Whilst the Dawn Service at Gallipoli is famous the world over with both Australians and New Zealanders as the most revered of the overseas Anzac Day ceremonies, the ceremony at Villers-Bretonneux, first initiated in 1998 has rapidly gained ground as "the" ceremony to attend if you are in Europe or the UK. On 25 April 2020, it is the 102nd anniversary of the Second battle of Villers-Bretonneux.  Villers-Bretonneux is famous as the area where the Germans nearly broke through the Allied defences during the German spring offensive of 1918. The German High Command worked out that if they captured Amiens, then push quickly to the coast they would split the Allied Forces in two and win the war – or at least sue for peace on their terms. Their first major offensive had actually reached to within ten miles of Amiens, before being stopped in the first battle of Villers-Bretonneux. Brigadier General Grogan VC,who saw the attack on Villers-Bretonneux, described the successful counter attack by night at short notice across unknown and difficult ground as "perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war". The Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Foch, referred to the "altogether astonishing valiance" (valour) of the Australians.  

Spirit of Remembrance Ltd. Anzacs Footsteps

Anzacs Footsteps

This new and very special 3 night/4 day commemorative tour series closely follows the Australian actions on the WW1 Australian sector of the Western Front. Imagine a ditch – zig-zagging from Melbourne to Canberra – about 700km – this was the Western Front in WW1 - stretching from Belgium to the other side of France. Some 295,000 Australians served on the Western Front where over 46,000 died and 134,000 were wounded or captured. As a proportion of its fighting force of men who were actually exposed to a theatre of war, it is widely accepted that Australia's armed forces in WW1 suffered more deaths, more hospitalisations for wounding, illness and injury than the armies of Britain, Germany, France, Canada or the United States.  The fighting prowess, bravery, mateship, and immense sacrifice of our soldiers here was - and will remain forever legendary. At the end of the war it was officially noted that "probably in no other year have Australians influenced the destiny of the world as Australian soldiers did by their achievements in these (and later) weeks of 1918." Marshal Foch (a prominent French General) reflected that  "the passionate valour of the Australians served as an example to the whole world You  saved Amiens, and you saved France". (2nd Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, Anzac Day, 1918). 

8 Day /7 Night tour
Cruising the canals
ANZAC Day Ex.Paris
Villers Bretonneux
Includes ANZAC Day Dawn Service
Ypres & Somme