Find your holiday on the Norfolk Broads

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Boating Holidays Holiday Cottages
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A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Holiday Boat on the Norfolk Broads

Choosing your perfect holiday cruiser with us couldn’t be easier as we have created segments of our holiday boats based on various customer profiles. We have an extensive selection of cruisers at our boatyard in Hoveton that cater for couples up to large groups of 12 people.

Whatever your party size and needs, we can help you find the perfect cruiser for your Norfolk Broads boating holiday. All our boats are fairly simple to use. However, some have features that make a boating holiday a little bit easier; we will highlight these too.

Don’t miss out on our range of holiday boat hire offers, including loyalty rewards or a 15% discount on the second week of a two-week booking.

Our three top tips for choosing a hire boat on the Norfolk Broads


1) Choose more space rather than less!
Making sure you can fit your family and friends on board flexibly and conveniently that meets your needs is a good starting point. Study the layout – has the boat got enough double/single beds/showers, etc., for your needs?

2) Choose a boat with superior battery management systems. Yes, we know, it doesn’t sound exciting! But choose a boat with this; the Broads National Park is your oyster.

If you keep the engine going for just four hours each day as you explore the broads, then you will have enough power in the batteries to support more mod cons with less use of the motor to recharge the batteries. You can keep all these things going (heating, hot water, cooking a meal, and keeping the lights on in perfect silence whilst wild-moored or anchored overnight in the middle of a broad. You also have the luxury of mooring almost anywhere without needing an overnight electric hook-up or leaving the boat motor on.

You’ll be able to hear the bittern boom and see that big, beautiful Norfolk sky at sundown with just the sounds of nature surrounding you. Good for you, good for the planet. (Use our boat search feature filters to find holiday boats with superior battery management systems).

3) Think about the optional extras (available with all our boats). You might like to include a rowing boat, paddleboards, or a sailing dinghy, or even bring your own!

Other essential factors to consider when selecting a holiday boat


Check the sleeping arrangements meet your needs

When it comes down to the sleeping arrangements, we describe our boats as 2+2 or 4+2 etc. The first number shows how many people can sleep in dedicated cabin bedrooms on the boat. The second number indicates the number of people who can sleep in the saloon or lounge area, where somebody must make the beds each evening.

If you were looking for the most convenience, privacy and flexibility, we would always go for dedicated bedroom cabin space. You’re also more likely to have ensuite facilities that are more practical when holidaying as a mixed group where privacy is likely to be more important.

Choose boat layouts and features that meet your needs and planned activities

Think about your experience level with manoeuvring boats and the activities you want to do whilst on the boat (fishing, nature watching, sunbathing, exploring quieter areas under the low bridges etc.). Also consider who’s coming on holiday with you and their level of mobility, as it makes a difference to which boat you should choose.

We’ve designed our website to help you select an appropriate boat for your needs. You can filter further to choose the specific features you want.

Time To Choose Your Perfect Boat

Holiday Boats For First Timers

Our best boats for beginners are ones that are the easiest to manoeuvre and moor. As your absolute top speed is six mph, there is usually plenty of time to slow down and try again, but a little thing called a bow thruster can make manoeuvring and mooring just that little bit calmer.

It’s like a mini engine at the front (bow) of the boat that can point the front of the boat left or right without moving forward or backwards.

Holiday Hire Boats For Families

Our family-orientated boats have been specially designed with layouts and equipment to ensure a family’s afloat needs are met.

Many of our luxury family boats have quieter engines, ceramic hobs, electric flush toilets, and large-screen TVs, making them a floating home from home. All our boats have WiFi and Freesat TV’s built-in.

Holiday Boats For Seniors

These boats have single-level floors, bow thrusters to make them easy to manoeuvre, electric anchor winches, low sides and wide decks for easy boarding.

Some also have island beds with space on both sides to make getting in and out of bed easier.

Holiday Boats For First Timers

Our best boats for beginners are ones that are the easiest to manoeuvre and moor. As your absolute top speed is six mph, there is usually plenty of time to slow down and try again, but a little thing called a bow thruster can make manoeuvring and mooring just that little bit calmer.

It’s like a mini engine at the front (bow) of the boat that can point the front of the boat left or right without moving forward or backwards.

Holiday Hire Boats For Families

Our family-orientated boats have been specially designed with layouts and equipment to ensure a family’s afloat needs are met.

Many of our luxury family boats have quieter engines, ceramic hobs, electric flush toilets, and large-screen TVs, making them a floating home from home. All our boats have WiFi and Freesat TV’s built-in.

Holiday Boats For Seniors

These boats have single-level floors, bow thrusters to make them easy to manoeuvre, electric anchor winches, low sides and wide decks for easy boarding.

Some also have island beds with space on both sides to make getting in and out of bed easier.

Holiday Boats For Couples

Our smaller two-person boats are easy to control, and most are designed to get under the lower bridges that larger boats cannot, enabling you to explore some of the less frequented parts of the Norfolk Broads, adding to the sense of adventure.

Pet Friendly Holiday Boats

We’ve chosen this list of boats because they are easier for dogs (especially larger ones) to get on and off. The boats may have lower sides and or broader decks.
We have a selection of dog life jackets available at the boatyard, from size small to extra-large.

Luxury Holiday Hire Boats

We have a fantastic range of luxury cruiser designs, each with boat-specific features, designed to make your boating holiday as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Holiday Boats For Couples

Our smaller two-person boats are easy to control, and most are designed to get under the lower bridges that larger boats cannot, enabling you to explore some of the less frequented parts of the Norfolk Broads, adding to the sense of adventure.

Pet Friendly Holiday Boats

We’ve chosen this list of boats because they are easier for dogs (especially larger ones) to get on and off. The boats may have lower sides and or broader decks.
We have a selection of dog life jackets available at the boatyard, from size small to extra-large.

Luxury Holiday Hire Boats

We have a fantastic range of luxury cruiser designs, each with boat-specific features, designed to make your boating holiday as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Holiday Boats Ideal For Fishing From

We have carefully selected a range of holiday boats best suited for those wishing to have a fishing holiday in Norfolk. These boats typically have an open area at the stern (rear) that you can fish from.

Boating Holidays On a Budget

We call these our “no frills” range, please don’t be misled though, they are good, all-round, well-maintained boats, and make for a comfortable holiday on the water, they are usually older boats with less of the modern conveniences of our newer boats.

Holiday Boats For Larger Groups

All these boats have at least 4 sleeping cabins or sleeping areas. If you need more than one boat we can offer a discount, call for details.

Holiday Boats Ideal For Fishing From

We have carefully selected a range of holiday boats best suited for those wishing to have a fishing holiday in Norfolk. These boats typically have an open area at the stern (rear) that you can fish from.

Boating Holidays On a Budget

We call these our “no frills” range, please don’t be misled though, they are good, all-round, well-maintained boats, and make for a comfortable holiday on the water, they are usually older boats with less of the modern conveniences of our newer boats.

Holiday Boats For Larger Groups

All these boats have at least 4 sleeping cabins or sleeping areas. If you need more than one boat we can offer a discount, call for details.

More ways in which find your perfect boat

When looking for the right boat to meet your need we have further search filters these include, holiday boats suitable for wild mooring, with superior battery systems, low-profile holiday boats for exploring further and getting under low bridges.

Some boats have a dual steering position with two positions from which to steer the boat, “up top”, often with the benefit of a sun deck and alfresco dining; they also provide excellent visibility over the reeds. Should the great British weather be less welcoming, you can also move undercover “down below” to drive. These boats will generally reach 85% of the navigable waterways, but they won’t fit under Wroxham or Potter Heigham bridges. Please note that dual steer boats will have onboard steps.

Onboard hire boat luxuries you might appreciate

One of the favourite luxuries is a separate shower and loo – no need to hide the loo roll when taking a shower. Check the boat descriptions and layout diagrams for this feature. If you like a bit of privacy, our newest boats have tinted windows whilst keeping the boat cool on a hot day.

Sliding Canopy Cruisers. Slide the roof back and allow the outside in. Even better, go for one with a split sliding roof to keep the sun in and have a windbreak simultaneously. The smallest of these boats will get you under Potter Heigham Bridge at the right time. You can access Hickling Broad, the beautiful Nature Reserve and Horsey Wind Pump once under the bridges.


Ready to Book!

So, now you know a little more, all you need to do is find your perfect holiday boat and book it!

We hope this guide to choosing your holiday boat has been helpful and we look forward to welcoming you aboard.

Family owned and run Barnes Brinkcraft has been providing boating holidays on the Norfolk Broads for over 50 years. Barnes Brinkcraft is a Quality Accredited Boatyard, reflecting the overall high standard and quality of our boatyard’s service and safety training standards. Visit England and the British Marine Federation assess all boatyards across the country to ensure that high boat safety standards and customer training are met and maintained.

"The man was very informative about how to drive the boat and very friendly. I have used Barnes Brinkcraft several times before and the staff have always been helpful. The boat was clean and we had a lovely cruise down the river on a hot sunny day with no problems. Highly recommended."
- Carole Shaw
"Fabulous day. The chap was extremely helpful getting us underway and parking was easy. Thoroughly enjoyable day on the boat Would recommend to anyone... Thank you"
- Steve Meyer
"Should you be looking for a reliable and clean boat to hire then look no further. Lovely and helpful staff that were keen to ensure all was well. Great day on the boat, very enjoyable experience enhanced by Barnes Brinkcraft and there staff and quality of boats."
- Kevin Palmer
"Really helpful, friendly staff and the boat was lovely."
- Imogen Boyce
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