Lately it has become increasingly popular to rent a houseboat and spend a lovely vacation sailing down rivers or across lake districts. Cruising on a river boat can have a very charming, quaint feel to it, on the other hand the boats are all equipped with very modern gear and in great condition. So you just need to sail along and enjoy the view. Here we have compiled some more information about this great type of boating vacation.
What are the incentives for houseboat charter?
Rivers, canals and lakes have nearly no tides, so they are perfect even for unexperienced sailors. Usually there are plenty of safe harbours to moor up in and it is so easy to go sightseeing on a river cruise – you are almost doing it from the water.
Houseboats are usually easy to manoeuvre with 2 people, most of them have a bow and a stern thruster, so you can turn comfortably in tight spots. On some of the rivers, there is not much commercial traffic at all, like for instance on the Mosel and Saar. There, from Dillingen until Saarbrücken you have the water to yourself and can enjoy the peace and quiet.
Which are the best charter destinations for houseboat rental?
Germany has great areas for cruising with a canal boat barge or houseboat. The lake district around Berlin is called the Havel land. It contains the German capital as well as the capital of the surrounding federal district of Brandenburg, Potsdam, and the ports of Fürstenberg and Werder, amongst others.
To the North of the Havel land you encounter the lake district of Mecklenburg. There are numerous beautiful lakes and many of them are interconnected via canals and rivers. Good harbours for houseboat rental in this region are Marienwerder and Waren/Müritz. For longer charter itineraries and one-way trips you could combine those two lake districts with the coastal region of the Baltic Sea and its charming islands.
Further to the south of Germany there are even more scenic river routes to explore. Just picture yourself cruising alongside vineyards and castles on the rivers of Mosel and Saar. This is a particularly interesting region as it is cornered by three countries – Germany, Luxemburg and France – and possesses a very unique culture and ambience. A good starting point for houseboat charter there would be the port of Merzig, for example.
The Netherlands are also an ideal destination if you want to hire a houseboat. The Ijsselmeer and its port Lemmer are connected with a network of canals, for instance in the province Zeeland containing the harbour of Kortgene and others.
For another peaceful charter experience head to the Masurian Lakes in Northeast Poland, a district that offers very good infrastructure for boating.
How much experience do I need to sail a houseboat?
River barges are usually easy to steer and manoeuvre, so it is a good introduction for new or unexperienced sailors. In some inland regions of Germany, for example, you do not require a license. Some charter agencies offer short introductory courses where you can learn the basic navigation and the rules of the road. In addition to that you will receive extensive maps and navigating on rivers is not much different to driving on the road – if you get lost you just turn around.
What activities can I combine with a houseboat holiday?
If you like water sports, why not cruise a boat along calm rivers and lakes where you could go swimming, water skiing, wakeboarding, snorkeling and kayaking? A houseboat charter is also a wonderful occasion to go fishing as you find the best spots from the water.
As you are so close to so many cities while you cruise along, you can do a lot of sightseeing on a houseboat rental. Just pick your choice of cultural activities and must-sees and off you go. In general though, a houseboat vacation is very relaxing and navigating is easy. This gives you the perfect opportunity to read a book and relax as you watch the world go by.