How to choose your Canal Boat

Canal boats are cleverly designed to make your holiday as relaxing as possible. Just under 7 foot wide, the boats vary in length according to the number of berths (beds) and level of comfort, but all can easily navigate the variety of features you will find on your travels, from locks to aqueducts. The longer the boat the more facilities it has or the more people it can take. A 60 foot boat could be designed to provide a luxurious holiday for 4 people or have a layout to which could sleep 8 people. The maximum size of a canal boat is 70 feet long (to fit into locks) and 12 beds (for licence reasons).

You don’t need a licence to drive a narrowboat, and full tuition is given at the start of your holiday. Choosing the right canal narrowboat for your holiday is made easy with our simple guide.

Canal Boat Berths (Beds)

When choosing your boat, the number of berths is the most important consideration, as a boat has to have enough beds for the number of people on the holiday - even babies count in this number.

Decide how many single berths (beds for 1 person) and double berths (beds for 2 people) you need and whether you need them to be fixed (permanently made up beds) or convertible beds (made into beds at night). The more luxurious boats have more fixed berths and the shorter, cheaper boats have more convertible sleeping areas, usually in the daytime seating areas. For more luxury it is best to go for more space, so you don’t need to make up beds at night.

Canal Boat Equipment

Canal boats are now equipped with all the comforts of home. These usually include:

  • Beds with foam or interior sprung mattresses
  • Kitchen area with cooker, fridge, crockery, cutlery, pans and everyuthing needed for meal preparation
  • One or more showers
  • One or more flushing toilets, some boats with push-button electric flush
  • Hot and cold running water
  • Central Heating
  • Colour TV, although reception at canal level can be poor
  • CD or DVD player
  • Wardrobes, cupboards and storage space
  • Freezers and microwaves on luxury boats

All boats have a 12 volt electricity that can be used with a mobile phone in-car charger. On some boats there is a 240 volt electricity supply.

When you carry out one of our Boat Searches you can click on a boat name to get more details of the equipment it has.

Canal Boat Sterns

The stern is the rear of the boat, where you stand to steer the boat using a tiller attached to an underwater rudder which diverts the water flow to change direction.

There are three types of stern, shown on our canal boat holiday search results:

Cruiser Stern:
Spacious rear deck with seating area edged with a guard rail. Good for larger parties and allowing easy access on or off the boat.

  Cruiser Stern

Enclosed seating area at the rear, ideal for supervising children, although with a smaller standiing area.

  Semi-Traditional Stern

Small open standing area, rarely found on hire boats but very common on boats owned by canal enthusiasts.

  Traditional Stern

All our boats have reliable, smooth running diesel engines. Daily tasks when cruising may include certain simple mechanical checks. Otherwise all you need to do is top up the water tanks from the many canalside water points to make sure you have enough for the bathrooms and kitchen.

Canal Boat Interior Canal Boat Interior Canal Boat Interior - Double Bed Canal Boat Interior - Single Bed