Unique in their style of sailing, Le Boat is more “boating,” than cruising with a variety of self-drive boating holidays on offer. Founded by an English entrepreneur in the late ‘60s with eight boats, the company has been in operation for more than 50 years and has close to 50 boats in service across nine countries.
It’s a river and canal boat rental company!
Now part of Travelopia group, Le Boat is the culmination of three historic lines: Crown Blue Line, Connoisseur, and Ireland’s Emerald Star. It’s grown to be the leading self-drive boating company in North America and Europe, with headquarters based in West Sussex, England.
Le Boat offers rentals on intimate vessels at a variety of price points with more than 40 departure locations. No experience or license is necessary to drive the boat, so beginners are welcome. There is also the opportunity for customers to purchase boats through the company.
Le Boat Review and Profile
Le Boat has divided their boats into four categories that correlate with their price point: Premier, Comfort, Comfort Plus, and Budget. There are 11 Premier boats, and they offer premium features like a spacious top deck with barbecue hot plate, sun deck cover, electric toilets, and more.
Comfort and Comfort Plus comprise 15 vessels. The main difference is that the Comfort Plus models are newer and offer a bit more space as well as air-conditioning. The majority of the fleet are Budget models, at 22 boats; they include linens, towels, and the basics, but otherwise provide a more traditional and no-frills version of the other boats.
About Le Boat
Boats are outfitted to accommodate two to 12 passengers. Capacity is dependent on the particular vessel rented, but there must be a minimum of two adults over the age of 18 and three adults on Vision-class boats in order to rent (adults must be at least 21 in Ireland and Canada).
For couples, families, and friend groups, Le Boat is a cozy experience but skews toward adventurous travelers who don’t mind literally navigating their own vacation. The freedom to choose your pace allows guests full control over their itinerary, as long as the boat is returned on time.
Fellow Passengers (where everybody knows your name)
The fellow passengers on your sailing will all be people in your party, and the experience can be tailored from an intimate wedding anniversary celebration to a small family reunion or a friends trip. All but one itinerary is in Europe, however Le Boat is enjoyed by Europeans and North Americans alike.
Le Boat Accommodations
Cabin layouts vary depending on which boat is selected. A Budget offering on a boat 30 feet by 10.5 feet might have one cabin with a double bed and a love seat that converts into a single bed with one bathroom. A Premier boat, 44 feet by 14 feet, could sleep nine people with four cabins (two doubles and two convertible twin beds) — all with ensuite bathrooms.
Dining On Your Own
Food and drink are not included on a Le Boat sailing as there is no staff onboard. There is a kitchen and galley on each boat, all with a stove, sink, large electric fridge, and storage space, so guests can cook their own meals.
Budget and Comfort options have few amenities, while Premier boats offer a spacious sun deck with a grill, bar fridge, and sunshade.
Le Boat is a great option for friends and family looking to have a very private boating vacation without other guests. It’s also a nice choice for well-traveled couples who have been there, done that on cruise ships or even river lines, and feel up to the task of captaining their own sailing.
There is no included alcohol on Le Boat. All alcohol is BYO, and anyone operating the vessel should not drink while doing so.
No need for gratuities, as there is no crew onboard the boat.
Where You’ll Find Le Boat Vessels
Le Boat offers a range of waterways from the Thames of England to Venice and Friuli in Italy, and Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal in Scotland.
Boaters can also choose from vacations in Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, and France, which is the company’s baguette and butter, with nine options. The newest addition to Le Boat’s itineraries is its first outside of Europe, with Canada’s Rideau Canal.
Brittany Chrusciel has covered the cruise industry for many years, formerly as Cruise Critic’s Destinations Editor, and has been quoted in publications such as Skift, USA Today, and the LA Times. She is a proud alumnus of Semester at Sea, where she circumnavigated the globe while studying writing, Spanish, and political science. Her favorite river cruise experiences so far have been visiting the Christmas markets with her German grandmother, and Portugal’s Douro River.
Sherry Laskin says
Thank you for reading my brief review of Le Boat. I, too, have heard some reviews over the last year and they weren’t always the best. If you have a choice, I’d opt for a barge cruise in France. There are some wonderful options for a family to have a boat to themselves. Check out European Waterways and CroisiEurope for their barge cruises and compare to Le Boat. It really depends on the amount of luxury and DIY that you’d prefer.
Thanks again for your question. Have a wonderful family vacation in Europe!
EUNICE AVENANT says
We are planning a trip to Netherlands in May 2023. Plan to do a Le Boat type canal boat tour for a family group of 5 persons. We thought Le Boat is a good option. After reading several recent reviews about Le Boat (specifically about their Netherlands operations), we are concerned. What would you recommend? We could travel by train to Belgium or France for options there. We are looking at 20-25/5/2023.
Used to be a good company. Sadly they’ve let their standards down. The boats are in really poor conditions and their customer service is appalling. Had the worst experience with my family, wouldn’t recommend to anyone.