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Canalboats in Europe

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions

Read More before you enjoy your holiday on a rental Canal Boat

Canalboats are available in Europe - including Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain & the UK.

A canalboat cruise takes you to a world where the pace of life drops down a gear and every moment is one to be cherished. Enjoy time with your partner, family or friends relaxing as the countryside steeped in history and culture slowly slips by.

Your floating holiday lets you experience stunning scenery taking in medieval hamlets, Norman cathedrals and Renaissance Castles not to mention sampling deliciously fresh local cuisine and traditional local markets offering hams, pates and fresh country vegetables and cheeses.

Our staff will be happy to share their personal boating experience and tips with you and will help you to choose the boat that best suits your needs so call for a chat or a beautifully glossy brochure.

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Our forthcoming newsletters will be covering Canal Boat hire travel in more detail with lots of hints, tips and things to watch out for!

Canal Boat Hire Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find questions and answers about Canal Boat Cruising in the UK and Europe. Information on how to rent or hire a canal boat is available below to guide travellers for safe journey.

Q: How far can I cruise in the Canal Boat?
A: The normal cruising speed is about 8km/hour. If you cruise faster you cause the banks to be damaged by soil erosion caused by the wake of your boat. Plan to cruise no more than 4 to 5 hours per day so that you can stop and sightsee and remember to allow time to go through locks which take about 20 minutes.

Q: Are there set days and times?
A: Hires normally operate from Saturday to Saturday, Friday to Friday or Monday to Monday. The Saturday option being the main day so try and plan it that way. In months other than the highest season, short breaks, Monday to Friday are available and weekends, from a Friday afternoon to a Monday morning. Normal takeover time is between 4 and 5 pm and return time is by 9am... (Often easiest to get to the base the night before and overnight there so you are ready first thing in the morning).

Q: Is there car parking at the base?
A: Yes, car parking is offered.

Q: Are Canal Boat Rentals expensive?
A: The price quoted is per boat... so divide by the number of people and you will see that the price is very reasonable considering this is your 'hotel', 'kitchen' and 'transport' in one... plus an unforgettably different holiday.

Q: What else do we have to pay?
A: At the end of the cruise, they will check your number of cruising hours (from a meter) and charge you for fuel, gas and oil. We can advise you these costs. We do also recommend you take the Collision Damage Option for your own peace of mind.Bikes, pets on board, car parking, car transfer, fishing rods and bbq are other options.

Q: Will we have to refuel with fuel or water?
A: The boat comes with enough fuel for one or two weeks of cruising. Water will have to be refilled every couple of days, depending on how many people etc. The water refill points will be shown on your canal guide. It may cost you one or two euros to refill.

Q: Where can we moor and how much does it cost?
A: You can moor wherever you want... the boat comes with stakes so any river bank will do. Just don't moor just outside tunnels or around bends or where you see 'no mooring signs' but we are pretty sure you'd figure that out yourself!

Q: What about electrical equipment?
A: Most boats are equipped with a 12 volt system with a cigar lighter fitting to recharge mobile phones and camcorders. A radio/cassette and a 12 volt hair dryer are provided. A 220v socket is available for electric razors only.

Q: We have never cruised before. How will we know the 'rules of the road'?
A: If you are the only craft navigating a particular stretch of water, you may keep to the centre of the canal or river, but when you meet another boat, you must pull over to the right and stay close to the bank. Remember also to look behind you, in case there are faster craft following which are anxious to overtake. However, your instruction booklet sent out with your documents will explain this so you can do some 'homework' before you go!

Q: What about groceries and supplies?
A: You can stock up with fresh supplies in practically any village along the banks of the canal or river. Consult your River Guide. It will tell you exactly where you will find a butcher, a baker, a fishmonger or a grocer. Some lock keepers will occasionally sell eggs and poultry, vegetables and wine at very reasonable prices. On the day of departure for your cruise, take advantage of your car when making bulky purchases. We can also organise, on your behalf, the initial provision of fresh supplies.

Q: We are just two people. Will we have a problem with locks and mooring?
A: No problem! All boats are easy to handle, that it is perfectly feasible for two people to pilot and manoeuvre it. And, then, if you choose your region carefully, there will be opportunities for romantic interludes on the river bank and excursions together into the surrounding countryside!

Q: We are going with friends we have not seen in a while. Do you think we may feel 'confined' or 'limited'?
A: On a canal boat cruise you will be captivated by the passing scenery, experiencing a sense of space and freedom! You also have the option of cycling alongside on the towpaths. When moored, you will experience the contentment of being comfortably ensconced in your saloon, sitting down to a good meal and looking out at the river bank as on your own back garden or on deck sipping a chardonnay as the sun sets so beautifully... With bikes, you all have the option of exploring in different directions.

Q: Is there any chance we will be bored?
A: A canal boat cruise doesn't mean that you have to limit your horizon to the canal or river bank! Often you will only have to travel a few hundred yards on foot or by bicycle, or perhaps take a taxi, to discover a well-known beauty spot, a medieval village, an old Roman church or a fine cellar that it would be a shame to miss. Your River Guide will tell you all you need to know about the interesting and unusual features of the area that you intend visiting.

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Canal Boat Rental - More Information

Everything you need to know about Canal Boat Rental or Hire in the UK and Europe.

Anyone can pilot a boat. They are very easy to handle and no licence is required. When you get to the base, you will be given a personal lesson and taken out for a short trip to ensure you are completely comfortable before you head out.

For additional peace of mind, in the unlikely event that you run into any difficulties, local staff are just a call away. Ask Tracey from our office, she will be embarrassed, but she will tell you how terrific the 24 hour "boatside" assistance is… And just like cars, boats do come fully insured but an excess will apply if you have an accident or damage the boat but optional Collision Damage Waiver insurance is available.

So which base should you cruise from? Well to be perfectly honest, in all the years of selling boating holidays, we have never come across anyone who has accused us of selling them a ‘bad route’…on the contrary, there are more instances of people getting of the boat and immediately booking for the next year.

That's one thing we can guarantee and that is that a canal boating holiday is one you will always remember. Having said that, we do suggest that you first start off with a couple of brochures and read through the highlights in each cruising area, perhaps even do some research into the areas you are considering.

There are over 25 different cruising regions and each has its own unique character. Just bear in mind the season…If you are travelling in the cooler months like October, perhaps choose to cruise down South in the Midi area where it is warmer or just take appropriate clothing.

Our brochures do give you a temperature guide for the different months. So this is an appropriate time to explain the terminology. You may be offered an "out and back" cruise – which means you start from one base and you can then cruise in any direction but the boat must be returned to the starting base.

A one way cruise is just that. You cruise from one base to another. There are pro's and con's for each type. If you choose an out and back, you can leave your car, motorhome and even excess baggage at the base and when you return you just hop into your car and off you go. The downside is that you will cover the same ground twice, and probably end up stopping at the same villages for supplies….however, some people do enjoy the familiarity.

If you choose a one way cruise, we must point out that there is not one company that will guarantee a one way cruise, the direction thereof and could even change it to an out and back. Whilst this seldom happens, the right is reserved to do so and it is not an allowable reason to cancel the cruise. So a one way cruise should be checked 4 days before pick up.  Don't let this put you off though because the distances between bases is not great and the bases will often help move you to the other base.  It generally only happens if the previous hirer has cancelled and time does not allow them to move the canal boat.

If you do have a car and want to do a one way cruise, the staff at the base can move your car to the finish point. There is a charge of approximately Euro 90 for this service. The cost to do a one way is approximately Euro 100. If you have a hire car, do remember to tell the hire car company that you require an additional driver so this way the car is insured. They may need you to call the base and obtain the drivers name. So what about the locks you want to know.

Don't let the number of locks put you off. Personal experience has shown that every bridge you pass under or every tunnel you go through has been counted as a lock! So there are not as many as the brochure indicates.

Locks will appear a bit daunting until you’ve been through 2 or 3 and then suddenly, "you're an expert" and they become fun. Locks are part and parcel of life on the river. Most are open and closed by a lock-keeper, some are automatic and a few are hand operated. Use this time to chat to fellow boaters whilst you queue to go through (weekends and peak season), or to the lock-keeper. "Some"of them are really friendly.  We met a friendly lock-keeper who enthusiastically discussed the Rugby World cup details with us, we swopped addresses and he plans to visit us in Australia.  Other lock keepers will offer you fresh veggies from their market garden, home made cakes for sale or fresh eggs.

So if you are now ready to start planning your trip, may we respectfully suggest that you first choose your cruising area. The beautiful glossy brochures we have will assist you. Then have a look and see which canal boats operate out of the region you have chosen and then choose your boat. Now there are quite a few tips to choosing the right canal boat to suit your party and we'll be happy to offer suggestions.

Then choose whether you want an out and back or one way. Once you have the canal boat booked, we will be happy to help you plan getting to or from the base.  A hire car is an option before or after the cruise and will often work out more cost effectively than getting the train from say, Paris, if you are more than 3 persons. Again, let me assure you that this is one holiday you will remember for many years to come and the only problem is that we know you will want to do another again and again….

A Clients report on his Canal Boat trip
The Best Canal Boat Company in Britain?
Canalboats - What should you consider when deciding upon a boat?
Can't get the holiday to fit into your budget?

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