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Five things you may not know about canal boating holidays

As you might imagine, at Nicols we talk to a lot of people about life on the waterways. We don’t really need to try too hard to push the fact that travelling by boat puts you at the heart of beautiful countryside and on route to historic and picturesque (some are both!) towns and villages that line the canals. We don’t even need to tell people about the relaxing and slow pace of life that a canal boating holiday offers – people get it.

More often that not it’s the misconstrued ‘barriers’ that people ask us about – things which they think mean that canal boating holidays aren’t suitable for them and their family – so it is these we are focusing on today.

This article highlights five things that you might not have known about hiring a Nicols boat and proves that boating holidays really are ideal for all…


Captain the canal boat yourself

Many people don’t consider the idea of hiring a canal boat for their holidays for two reasons. It is either because they think you need to have a licence (similar to when you hire a car) to be able to drive the boat or that you need to rent a boat which comes with a skipper and crew and therefore is possibly going to be more expensive and/or mean sharing personal space with others!

In addition to not needing a licence our Nicols boats don’t require you to have had any previous boating experience either. You can turn up to our bases having never set foot on a boat and we’ll let you loose on the waterways!

How you ask? Well for starters Nicols boats are all very easy to drive. It’s an all hands on deck holiday as your crew of family and friends join in the fun of helping when it comes to mooring up or going through the locks. Also, when you collect your boat from our Nicols bases, you’ll be given a comprehensive explanation of everything about the boat. A member of staff will take you out onto the water and walk you through the manoeuvres that’ll you need including negotiating your first lock.

For added peace of mind once you’ve booked your canal boating holiday you’ll be sent a pack of useful information including a ‘Captains Handbook’ and introduction DVD so you can read up in advance of travelling.

no experience needed canal boating

Canal boat crew requires no previous boating experience


Take the family pet with you

Us humans are soft when it comes to our pets. There we admit it! We revolve our lives around them and when it comes to planning the family holiday it is no different – they are part of the family after all.

A canal boating holiday is a great option for those wanting to take their dog on holiday. The nature of the holiday, being in the great outdoors, is perfect for dogs with plenty of exploring outdoor space and walks along the towpath.

For a small supplement we welcome pets onboard all of our Nicols canal boats. Some styles of boat are better suited so please speak to our team for advice. We also suggest bringing their feeding bowl, bed and maybe their favourite toy to make them feel completely at home!

Canal boating holiday with dogs

Family pets enjoy life on the waterways too!


Enjoy your own private swimming pool

Yes you read that right – you can book a boat with a pool! Born out of a customer suggestion and built by our very own talented team of boat builders, the onboard splash pool is an added extra that can be towed behind your boat and attaches to the majority of the Nicols fleet.

Ok it’s not a pool that’ll see you swim many lengths, but it is an excellent addition for if you have small children or just want somewhere to cool down in the hot sun. The splash pool is great for all times of the year as it can be heated and when it’s not being used it has a hard cover which converts the splash pool into extra terrace space.

Canal boat with splash pool

Nicols exclusive splash pool


Go where you want when you want

All we ask is that you return the boat back to our base at the end of your holiday! Where you go in between picking up the boat from us and then is down to you and your crew. Of course our knowledgeable team will be able to give some pointers on what you’ll find on and around the waterways but you have complete freedom as to where you stop and for how long. This means that if you find a place you love and want to spend a little longer exploring it then you can. Nicols have a selection of suggested cruising itineraries of varying holiday durations and these provide some ideas to give you a start point. Our brochure also highlights various themed cruises such as nature and wildlife, fine food and wines or history and heritage so you can choose a route that matches the interests of your crew.


Boating holidays itineraries

Create your holiday itinerary stopping 
where you want when you want!

Get online

As much as we’re advocates for holidays being a getaway from the usual everyday life and ditching computers and mobile phones we appreciate that it is important to maintain some connection to the rest of the world – even when you’re bobbing about in the middle of a peaceful canal!

It’s now possible to hire a device to take onboard which allows you to connect multiple devices (subject to the quality of coverage in the region) via a WiFi service.

Most bases offer this service and it can be useful if you have to check an email, keep in contact with family or keep the kids entertained while travelling...although we think they’ll be having far too much fun helping as crew!


Canal boating holidays with onboard wifi

Create your holiday itinerary stopping 
where you want when you want!


Ready to book your canal boating holiday ? 

If you weren’t aware of some of these points before you might not have thought a boating holiday was for you. You’ll see now though that there are many reasons which make a holiday on the waterways an excellent choice and can find out more about the regions in France, Germany and Portugal on offer. You can also use the following button to start checking boat availability and prices.

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