Start packing

Things to take with you:

  • Soft bags which can fold away are much better than suitcases as boats have limited storage space
  • Non-slip rubber-soled shoes
  • Leather or gardening gloves are useful when holding the ropes in the locks. (Available to purchase at the base)
  • Binoculars for bird and wildlife watching
  • A flashlight* for walking along towpaths at night
  • Comfortable clothes to suit all weather conditions
  • Sun cream, sun hats** and sunglasses are essential - you can burn easily by the water
  • Large beach towels for sunbathing
  • Toilet paper and toiletries
  • Hand soap
  • Worktop and dish cleaning products*
  • Food, snacks and drinks*

*If you can't or don't want to bring your own provisions, we offer 2 kinds of grocery packs, as well as an Eco-Pack with ecological cleaning & washing product. You can also rent a LED lantern.

Visit Holiday Extras for more details.

**Branded caps are available to purchase at the base

 

 

What's already on board:

  • Linen, duvets and pillows
  • Small bathroom towels and tea towels (not beach towels)
  • Fridge (with a small freezer compartment for ice), burners and gas oven
  • Kitchen utensils, cutlery, pots and pans.
  • Electronics and power: All boats have a 12 volt power sockets (as you would use in a car) which can be used to plug in your adapter lead for a mobile phone or any other low power equipment. Some models also have 110/210V/220V plug sockets (you will need a plug adaptor suitable for the country you are visiting). On most boats, these sockets only provide power when cruising or when 'hooked-up' to a shore power supply. Our new Horizon boats also have USB sockets in the saloon and all cabins.

Download a detailed inventory of equipment supplied on all of our boats

Check out the equipment and feature specific to your boat model


  

 

Plan your travel to base

Select your start base from our list of bases for more information about:

  • Your base address and contact details
  • Directions & travel advice
  • Parking
  • Local taxi transfers information (if arriving by plane or train)
  • Car transfers (for those doing a one-way cruise)
  • Facilities at your base and close by

Select your start base

  

 


What to expect on arrival

Arrival time

You can collect your boat and depart between 16:00 – 17:30. We recommend that you arrive at least 60 minutes earlier to allow time to check-in and receive your pre-departure briefing. If you have booked an Early Check-in Service, please arrive at the base ready to depart between 11am and 12pm or from 2pm. Please note many of our bases will close for lunch.

 

Please note: in Germany, if you don’t have a licence and wish to cruise in licence-free areas of Germany our base teams are required to provide additional tuition prior to your departure which begins at 2pm every day. See the 'Learn more about boating' tab for more details

On arrival

Our base staff look forward to welcoming you to their cruising region and aim to make your arrival and holiday as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

 

Upon arrival, our reception team will ask you to confirm exactly who will be on board your boat. You will also need to advise which members of your party have been nominated as Captain and 2nd in charge – these people will be in charge of your boat while cruising and responsible for the safety of everyone on board.

 

You can significantly speed up the check-in process by making sure you complete and return a Guest Information Form at least four weeks prior to your departure.

 

The reception team are also required to take an Engine Hours Deposit and a Damage Deposit from you by way of a credit card. See compulsory costs for more details.

Pre-departure briefing

After you have checked in, you will be shown to your boat as quickly as possible so you can settle in.

 

One of our base technicians will familiarise you with the boat’s domestic systems and give you a hands-on demonstration of the boat controls and how to operate it. They will also show you the navigation charts and make you aware of particular hazards you should be careful to avoid. They will make sure you are comfortable and confident controlling the boat, as well as navigating the waterway, before you set off.

 

Your designated Captain and 2nd-in-Charge must be present at this briefing and will need to sign to say appropriate instruction has been received.

 

Onboard resources

Our teams at your start base are there to ensure you are comfortable, confident and stay safe. However, you will be given lots of written information to refer to, in case you forget anything.

 

You will receive:

  • Contact numbers for assistance while you cruise
  • Safety advice – our top priority
  • A quick start guide – top line information on getting comfortable once aboard and setting off.
  • Navigation maps and charts
  • A detailed boat manual
  • Written guidelines on boat handling and navigating the waterway.

 

See the 'Learn more about boating' tab to read some of these resources online before you leave home. It may aid your understanding of the pre-departure briefing and help you to become confident more quickly. 

Arriving after hours?

If you are arriving after the base closes, please contact your departure base to let them know. When you arrive at the base there will be a note on the reception door informing you which boat is yours and where to find it. Your boat will be left open so you can spend your first night on board, but you must remain at the dockside. An information wallet and reference manual will be left on aboard so you can find out how to operate the on-board domestic systems, but check-in and your pre-departure briefing will take place the following morning at 9 am.

  

 


Add optional holiday extras

We offer a range of optional extras to make your holiday more comfortable, easy and enjoyable. Most extras can be purchased at the base, but to guarantee availability and to take advantage of reduced rates, we advise you prebook them before you travel.

 

Extras include bike rental, groceries, gas barbecues, cleaning, early boarding and late check-out.

 

Find out more about all our optional holiday extras


Stay safe abroad

For the latest travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs (Republic of Ireland) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Northern Ireland) on staying safe and healthy abroad. including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information check www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice (Republic of Ireland) | www.gov.uk/travelaware (Northern Ireland).

Before you depart:

  • Take out appropriate travel insurance before travelling and make sure it covers you for all the activities you want to do.
  • If you are travelling within Europe, ensure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that hasn’t expired and understand what it covers -you still need full travel insurance though! For your free EHIC card visit www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes/ehic (Republic of Ireland) | www.nhs.uk/ehic (Northern Ireland)
  • Learn about the laws, customs and entry requirements of the country you’re visiting and understand how they differ from home, check www.dfa.ie/travel (Republic of Ireland) | www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice  (Northern Ireland)
  • Check your passport is valid, fill out the emergency details, look after it while travelling and keep it in a safe place. Make sure you have all necessary visas.
  • Make copies of important travel documents, take a picture or make copies and store them securely using a secure data storage site.
  • Research vaccinations or any other medical requirements for your destination, and if necessary visit a travel health clinic before you travel. For medical advice visit www.tmb.ie (Republic of Ireland) | www.travelhealthpro.org.uk (Northern Ireland)
  • Tell your friends or family about your travel plans and where you’re going and leave emergency contact details.
  • Take enough money with you and have access to emergency funds. Ensure you take the contact details of the local Irish or British Consulate in case of emergencies www.dfa.ie/embassies (Republic of Ireland) | www.gov.uk/government/world/embassies (Northern Ireland)
  • Understand what consular staff can and can’t do to help British nationals travelling overseas, check www.dfa.ie/global-irish/support-overseas (Republic of Ireland) | www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-british-nationals-abroad-a-guide (Northern Ireland)
  • Act responsibly, and be responsible for yourself when abroad.

Plan your itinerary

Some people like to plan in advance, others like to see what takes their fancy when they get there. Either way, to make the most of your holiday, you may find the following planning tips useful…

We've produced a region guide for each of our cruising areas to give you an overview of all the stops and things to do along the waterway. Use it to help you plan your time. These guides are provided on board or you can download a pdf version here.

 

Approximate cruising times between stops can be found in our region guides.

 

Don’t take on too much. An average of three to four hours of cruising time each day is a nice pace. Any more than this and you’ll begin to tire and you might miss out on all there is to do and see. Of course you still need to ensure you arrive at your end base on time!

 

Build plenty of ‘wiggle’ room into your plan. Life on the water is slow-paced and you may be unexpectedly held up at locks. Or you may want to stay a little longer in a particular place.

 

Find out what time locks are open and be mindful that they close over lunch in some regions. As such, you may want to be moored up during these times or in a stretch that has no locks. In some regions locks close on public holidays or have reduced hours outside of peak season. Hours of operation and closure days are listed in our region guides.

 

Call ahead to check if attractions are open, or to make restaurant reservations. However, be prepared to alter your plans - your progress along the waterway can sometimes take longer than expected.

 

Remember to allow enough time to get to the end base you’ve booked. Unless you have booked a late check out, you need to be back by 9am. In some regions locks don’t open until this time, so make sure there are none left to pass through by the time they close the previous day.

 

If you do like to plan ahead – download our holiday planner to help you organise your time.

  

 

Download our app

A great tool to help you discover your chosen cruising ground, both before and during your holiday.

 

  • Interactive Map of your itinerary with geo-localised content.
  • What to see, what to do and where to eat along your cruising route.
  • Information on upcoming locks, moorings & points of interest!

Learn more about our app

 

  

 

Discover your boating region

We have produced handy Region Guide for each of our boating regions, to help you decide where you’ll like to stop and visit during your holiday. They offer a summary of each town/village we recommend is worth stopping for, as well as information about local facilities/amenities, markets and recommended restaurants. Each guide also shows how long it will take you to cruise between each stop, the number of locks you’ll encounter, as well as information on locks, moorings and facilities specific to each region. A copy of the guide will be given to you at the base, but why not download a pdf copy now and start planning. Alternatively, you could visit the relevant webpage on this website.


  

 

Chart your course

As well as our handy region guides, navigational charts/maps are also provided on board, which you should consult at all times to ensure you avoid or prepare for upcoming hazards such as weirs, shallow water, locks and bridges. They offer very detailed information about the waterway and some give more information about the towns and villages’ en-route and the facilities on offer at each (such as moorings, water, marinas, shops, etc). If you would like this level of detail to help you plan your holiday, maps for most of our regions can be purchased direct from the suppliers online.


No experience required

You don't need any previous boating experience to be the captain of your own boat on a boating holiday. On arrival, we’ll give you an in-depth briefing on the specifics of your boat so you can cruise and live aboard with confidence and in comfort. However, if you would like to get a head start, the following resources will show you everything you need to know about handling a boat and staying safe on the waterways. Reviewing this before your holiday will aid your understanding of what you are told during the pre-departure briefing and will help you to become confident with the boat and the waterway more quickly.


Licences & permits

A boating licence or permit is not required in nearly all our cruising regions. In France, after your pre-departure briefing you will be given a temporary permit for the duration of your holiday. The only region where a licence is required is Germany – although there are licence-free areas.

Licensed areas: certain cruising areas in Germany require an International Certificate for Operator of Pleasure Craft, which is issued in UNECE member States in accordance with Resolution No. 40. Without this licence you won’t be able to cruise on these waterways. If your licence does not reference ‘Resolution No. 40 of the UNECE Working Party on Inland Water Transport’ – we suggest you send it to our sales team prior to booking so it can be validated.

 

Unlicensed areas: If you don’t have a licence and wish to cruise in licence-free area of Germany (which includes the waterways around Jabel, Marina Wolfsbruch and the short stretch of waterway between our base in Potsdam and the town of Werder), our base teams are required to provide additional tuition prior to your departure. This means your pre-departure briefing will take two hours in total and you must arrive at the base in time for this tuition which begins at 2pm (although we suggest you arrive 60 minutes earlier to complete checkin beforehand). Even after this tuition, you will still not be allowed to cruise in licensed areas.

 

If you have a licence this additional tuition is not required, your pre-departure briefing will take the usual 1hr and you may arrive any time between 2pm and 5pm (unless you have booked an early check-in).

 

Please note: Big Lakes Area (around Jabel/Müritz): Although the lakes around Jabel/Muritz are licence-free, customers without a German licence will not be allowed to pass any of the big lakes when the windspeed is more than 4 Bft (20km/h). Therefore you are advised to call the Le Boat base and request approval to pass. They can then check current weather conditions and decide whether to grant permission.


Handling your boat and navigating the waterway

Our useful boat handling and navigation pdf will give you a good overview of how to handle your boat, including passing, overtaking, mooring, going through locks and understanding signs on the waterway. The following videos will also help. All of this information will be given to you during your pre-departure briefing and is available on board inside the Boat and Navigation Manual, but reviewing before your holiday will aid your understanding and will help you to become confident with the boat and the waterway more quickly.

Clip 1 - Before your Departure - ENG

Learn how to drive a boat. This video shows you all essential checks before your depart on your boating adventure.

Clip 2 - Tools on your boat - ENG

Learn how to drive a boat. This video shows you how to use navigational maps, ropes and knots.

Clip 3 - Driving a canal boat - ENG

It's time to start your boating holiday. This video will give you information about steering and important maneuvers on the water.

Clip 4 - The Locks - ENG

Don't be afraid of locks. In this video, we give you an overview of the different lock types and how to best navigate them.

Clip 5 - Navigation rules - ENG

This video gives you an overview of the rules and regulations for navigating on inland waterways. 

Clip 6 - How to moor your boat - ENG

We show you how to moor your canal boat securely in different scenarios you might encounter on your boating holidays.

Clip 7 - Responsible cruising - ENG

Responsible cruising on the inland waterways is a must. We show you what to watch out for.


Staying safe

We want you and your crew to have a safe and enjoyable holiday so please read and abide by our safety guidelines to reduce the risk of accidents and injury while on board. The guidelines will be given to you at base, but it is a good idea to read these at home, before you holiday, to ensure you have a good understanding by the time you arrive. You are required to nominate a captain and a 2nd-in-charge’ who will be responsible for the safety of the crew and can take charge in case of an emergency. These persons must receive a briefing session by one of our base technicians who will show them how to safely control and navigate the boat. Their signatures are required on the pre-departure paperwork to confirm this instruction has been given and understood.

Boating under the influence of drink or drugs is dangerous, significantly increases the likelihood of serious accidents and is not permitted by law. Even once you have safely moored, drink in moderation to avoid accidents when getting on & off and moving about the boat.

We strongly advise all passengers to wear life jackets while on deck, particularly when inside locks (compulsory in some locks/regions) and when mooring where the risk of accidents is greater. Children and non swimmers are also at greater risk.

When driving, be alert and pay attention at all times. Stay within marked channels and always refer to your waterways map to identify navigational hazards (weirs, shallows, strong currents, swimming areas, bridges, tunnels and locks) and pass them SLOWLY and with caution. Always obey local speed restrictions.