Monday, 24 September 2012 8:46 PM
A short boat holiday break can be a great budget-friendly option if you want to get away for a while but haven't too much cash to splash. As well as giving some thought to the destination, you'll need to consider the model of boat you want to spend a week or so aboard.
Do some research and you'll often find boat hire companies have a fleet made up of hundreds of vessels, but there are a number of elements that will affect the type of vessel you choose, making it easier to narrow down your selection. Read on to find out more.
Make your choice based on… your destination
Canal boat breaks are popular both at home and overseas. In the UK, you'll be able to travel to places like the Norfolk Broads or along the River Thames for a getaway, along with the Caledonian Canal in Scotland. Ireland is also an option, with waterways like the River Shannon ideal for this sort of vacation.
Booking a staycation can often be more cost-effective than heading overseas, as you won't always have flights to pay for, so a break at home could mean you get away for less. If, however, you can afford to go abroad, there are all sorts of great destinations to choose from, including Italy, France and Holland.
Certain boats are used in specific regions, so you might find one model is available in a couple of bases in France, but not in any other locations in the country or elsewhere, although some models are more common than others and are used on a variety of waterways.
Make your choice based on… your budget
A boating getaway is ideal if you're looking to stick to a tight budget. You'll find boat fleets comprise a range of models in terms of size and the level of luxury, and hire companies usually use a rating system to categorise models, making it easier for you to see which fit within your budget when you browse their websites.
Some firms use an anchor rating, which constitutes a number of anchors – often between two and six – beside the description of a specific boat on the webpage. The greater the number of anchor icons, the more luxurious the boat tends to be.
If you don't want to spend too much on your accommodation and will simply use your vessel to sleep in and perhaps make some light meals, a boat with a two-anchor rating might suffice, as these are usually basic yet acceptable. Go up a notch and your onboard comfort will increase and the vessel will be better presented.
A four-anchor rating often signifies a boat is stylish and offers added extras like a sound system on the top deck, while those with five anchors are opulent and boast superior decor, DVD players with USB connectivity and electric flush toilets.
If you want a really comfortable getaway, a six-anchor rated vessel can offer all the modcons you could need, from en-suite bathrooms and flat screen TVs to air conditioning.
Make your choice based on… the number of people in your group
If you're travelling with family, friends or a partner, the type of accommodation you need is likely to vary depending on the number of people in your party. When looking through the list of boats, there is bound to be some information about how many people each vessel can comfortably sleep, often in the following format 'Boats that sleep 4+'. Some websites will allow you to search for the right vessel on this basis.
By each boat description, there will usually be more details about occupancy levels, in formats like 'sleeps 2+1', for example. This indicates that two people can sleep in the cabins, and a further individual can use a pullout bed in the saloon area.
For ease of reading, many boat hire websites also use a colour coding system to make the size and style of the bed on their boats easily identifiable. There should be a key of icons on the website that will have options like an image of a single bed, another of a double and so on, each of which will have a colour behind it, so when you're scrolling through your options you'll be able to see the types of bed available on each boat.