What it’s really like to vacation with Le Boat

Our guest blogger Amy Hogue describes her experience traveling to Ottawa Canada on a Le Boat Horizon cruiser

Sometimes the only way to really get what something is about is to try it for yourself. While relatively new to Canada just opening for its third season in 2020) , Le Boat has been operating in Europe for more than 50 years.

Living in the area, I’ve seen the advertising materials, full of smiling couples looking like they haven’t a care in the world, cruising on sparkling waterways, with an ever-present glass of wine in hand.

boating with Le Boat

But come on, really? Would cruising on a boat really make me that happy? Would I literally look like someone who’s forgotten everything on my to-do list? Is it possible that my everyday worries could be forgotten while cruising with Le Boat? 

The answer, to be honest, surprised me. Because the answer is YES. 

 Here’s the thing about what I know about boats. I’m not a boating person. I’ve canoed and kayaked, but that’s about as far as my aquatic adventures have taken me. So when I had the opportunity to take a three-night vacation with Le Boat, I jumped at the chance to experience a self-cruising vacation with an international cruise company that has been making headlines around the world, and finally understand what all the hype’s about for Le Boat and the Rideau Canal.

I have to admit that while my whole life has been spent literally kilometres away from the Rideau, other than driving past locks with barely a second glance or skating on the canal in downtown Ottawa in the winter, I never really gave the canal a second thought. 

Obviously I had no idea what I was missing. I never had an opportunity to truly appreciate the beauty of the Rideau Waterway, and understand why it’s not only been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but why it’s a tourism destination for thousands and thousands of visitors each year. Sometimes you need to see something from a tourist’s perspective to get what the big deal is.

Beautiful sunset

About the boat

So here’s what happened when I started my Le Boat vacation. First off, I was surprised to find that boating relaxed me. (Okay, the glass of wine helped, but it's not a prerequisite.) There is just something about being on the water that physically separates you from your worries and your everyday self, turning you into a more relaxed, more glamorous version of yourself. Was I relaxed? You bet. Would I want to do it again? Absolutely. 

Almost as soon as I boarded Le Boat’s Premier Horizon, I felt myself being unburdened. There is no clutter on this luxury boat, where there is a place for everything and everything in its place. The furnishings are modern, clean, and the interior is spacious, with lots of windows and an airiness that is particularly inviting. Gone were my preconceptions of what a boat interior should look like; Le Boat’s boats are light and fresh, with plenty of windows. 

The inside may be luxurious and spacious (even the bedrooms!), but the real fun, of course, is found on the top deck (or as Le Boat calls it - the “fundeck”) where you can cook, eat, and relax, with a spectacular view to enjoy en route to your destination. The light rocking of the boat coupled with a fresh breeze, and the water sparkling in the sunlight creates a wonderfully surreal experience.boat collage

My Le Boat experience was like spending a few days at a fantastic cottage, only better, because the view you’d expect from a cottage isn’t stationary, it’s 360 degrees of natural splendor, and is constantly changing. Even if you live in Canada and think you know everything about the Rideau Canal, the beauty of Canada’s natural environments, you should try experiencing life from a cruising perspective with Le Boat. Here’s why:

1.Anyone can drive one of these boats.

Seriously. Anyone. I know that’s what they say in the literature, and I was – I’ll admit it – terrified of driving the boat, and skeptical that I even should (I mean, this is a more than $200,000 boat that I could literally sink). And let’s be honest here, I don’t even parallel park my car because I am parking challenged. Thankfully, Le Boat understands that many of their customers will be novices, and has created a maneuvering system that literally a monkey could use. The engine will take you forward and backward, and of course, there is also neutral, but the real gem of the navigation system are the thrusters, which can easily push you sideways into your spot in a lock or dock. Super easy, and super fun! If I can do it, trust me, anyone can do it.

woman captain boat

2.The Rideau Canal is worth experiencing, especially the locks.

After living so close to the Rideau I thought I’d be bored touring the canal, but I was happy to discover that the Rideau Canal is so not boring! I’d canoed before from Burritt’s Rapids to Merrickville in the past, but when you’re in a canoe you’re down low near the water, which gives you a totally different perspective. You’re also baking in the sun, with little breeze, and inundated with biting insects. With Le Boat, on the other hand, you’re up high enough to catch the breeze – no bugs! – and you have a new, and interesting, perspective of the shoreline and waterway. And going through the locks was a fantastic experience! It’s fascinating to watch the lockmasters and Parks Canada staff expertly maneuver the nearly 200 years-old technology so boats can navigate around rapids. So cool! 


small boat


3.There’s plenty of room to roam on Le Boat’s Premier Horizon fleet.

When I first stepped aboard the Horizon, I was blown away by how luxurious the accommodations were, how clean, and well appointed. It didn’t feel like I was on a cramped boat, it felt like I was on a yacht. My boat slept eight, and each of the four cabins had their own bathroom, with a shower (that’s more than I have at home)! Two fridges, a completely appointed kitchen, seating for at least eight, and sliding glass doors leading out onto the back deck all completed the feel that I was on a floating cottage rather than a boat. The only difference was the scenery was always changing on the boat, which was exciting!

summer boating

4.There’s always something to do on a boat. 

I admit, I thought I might be bored, but the thing is, there’s a difference between being relaxed and being bored. Because Le Boat boats have so many different places you can go to for a few minutes of privacy, like one of the cabins, the kitchen/dining area, the upper deck, or the back deck, you never feel like you’re sitting in the same spot all day, looking at the same things. You can make a snack in the kitchen, eat up on deck, or read a book in your cabin, all by yourself! If you’re bored, you can do some cleaning, coil some ropes so you’re all set for the next mooring or lock-through, or take a look at the navigational charts to see what’s coming up next. When you stop at the locks you can take some time to explore whatever community you find yourself in, or enjoy a relaxed drink at one of the restaurants that pepper the shores of the Rideau Canal.

Jumping off boat


5.It’s the perfect family experience.

I only had the boat for a few days, but during that time friends with young children were able to visit, and they had so much fun jumping off the boat into the water. They particularly loved the way everything was so close at hand inside. They said it was like being in their own floating fort! My grown children visited for the afternoon one day, and loved being able to relax with a drink on the sundeck, or take a dip in the water. It was one, long, Instagrammable experience! To keep kids occupied, you can rent a bike from Le Boat, and explore the small towns that border the Rideau, rent a kayak from Le Boat and get a closer look at some natural areas, or kayak in to a pristine beach. Young kids will love being on the water, older kids will love playing at the yachting life, and adults will love it all.