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United Kingdom-based Le Boat, the largest self-drive boating company in Europe, is bringing its 40-plus years of experience with self-drive river cruising boats to Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that extends 125 miles from Kingston, Canada, to Ottawa, Canada.
With its official opening set for May 2018, Le Boat’s Rideau Canal base in the Canadian province of Ontario represents a company investment of $16 million. Le Boat will launch there with 16 of its top Horizon cruisers, with plans to double the number over the course of five years. Bookings open this spring for the first May through October season.
A survey of Le Boat customers found that 91 percent of U.S. clients are interested in a boating holiday along the Rideau Canal.
At the same time, Le Boat is opening a new Europe base in Hindeloopen, the Netherlands, a charming and picturesque maritime village with roots in the 14th century.
With demand rising in Europe alongside the company’s expansion into North America, Le Boat is building three new models of its Horizon ship design with versions that sleep up to five, seven or nine people. They will be available for the first time this year in key boating areas, including Ireland, the U.K.’s River Thames, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Burgundy, France.
Le Boat currently rents 900 vessels of various size and layouts in eight European countries, with nearly 40 bases where travelers can launch or return their boats for trips that range from three days to three weeks. Travelers can choose where they want to go, alter their plans mid-cruise, linger when they want to and decide where to begin and end their journey.
First-time cruisers receive training from the company, along with continuous technical support.