Canal FAQ

Canal Holiday Advice

A Perfect Narrowboat For Everyone...

How Big Does The Boat Need To Be?

Most hire companies rent out their boats according to berths, which may seem to make it very simple – if there’s four of you, you need a 4-berth boat. But bear in mind that the number of berths quoted is usually the maximum number who can comfortably fit on that boat. If you want a bit more space, privacy or convenience you may consider hiring something larger. Also two family groups will have different requirements from an eight berth boat than four couples. The berths may be in a number of separate cabins, they may be doubles, singles or bunk type, and they may be permanently made up or have to be converted from a dining area at the end of the day. So check the boat descriptions and layout plans carefully to make sure the boat suits your group's or family's needs. The hire firm will always be happy to offer advice - they want you to enjoy your canal holiday as much as you do!

We've more information about the fittings and features you can expect on a canal hire boat in out Hireboat features FAQ.

Under the terms of your agreement with the hire firm, you will not be able to take more people than the boat’s maximum number of berths.

What Sorts Of Holiday Hire Canal Boats Are There?

Most boats have decks at the front and rear. The rear deck can be longer to allow passengers to sit with the steerer, this is known as a ‘cruiser’ stern. Some boats have a much shorter rear deck which allows the steerer to get some protection from the weather at the back of the cabin. This is the traditional working narrowboat style, and is thus referred to as ‘trad’. There’s an in-between style which has some protection and some room for passengers known as ‘semi-trad’.

Most canal hire boats have robust steel hulls and cabins with diesel engines. Most are 7 foot wide because that is the maximum that can fit in a ‘narrow’ lock (not to be confused with ‘barges’, which are 14 feet or more wide).

How Do We Find Boats And Hireboat Companies?

Canal Junction has comprehensive listings for hireboat companies. We specialise in small family owned businesses believing that they usually provide a friendly and reliable service. Most canal hire companies have online brochures. Read them carefully, make a checklist of the features you want, if you are not sure if a boat is right for you ring the company, they will be happy to help. You may be invited to inspect boats before booking.

See our narrowboat hire firm listings, or go to our canal guide pages to browse individual canals. And our hireboats2go website is an online search facility so you can find late availability canal holidays from over 50 family run hire companies.

Are There Any Canal Holiday Quality Inspection Schemes?

There is an Quality in Tourism Inspection Scheme run by Visit Britain who grade hire boats and hotelboats on a scale from 1 to 5 stars. 'The star ratings awarded reflect a combination of service, facilities and the overall quality and comfort of the boat.


There is also a Quality Handover Scheme run by APCO which aims to ensure the hire company gives you 'all the information you will need to be sure you will know how to handle the boat and facilities aboard safely so you enjoy your boating adventure to the full'.

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