European boating vacation company Le Boat is planning on expanding its services to include the Rideau Canal in the New Year. Le Boat will allow vacationers to charter a luxury cruiser and wend their way at their own pace through the Rideau Canal from Kingston to Ottawa.

“The Rideau Canal is a vacationers dream, offering the best of all Le Boat’s European destinations in one place,” says Cheryl Brown, managing director of Le Boat. “It has the elegant beauty and charm of French waterways, the delightful lagoons of Italy, and the dramatic, scenic lakes of Ireland, Holland and Germany.

The base will be in Smiths Falls where they will house 16 state-of-the-art Horizon Cruisers which are specially designed to meet Ontario maritime and Le Boat Customer requirements. The hope is to expand the fleet to 32 cruisers over the next 5 years. The new Le Boat base is expected to attract thousands of vacationers from the U.S., Canada, Germany, France and many other locations around the world, contributing millions of dollars to the local economy in tourism, job growth and supply chain support.

A Le Boat survey of its customers – including respondents from the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. – found demand high for Eastern Ontario and the Rideau Canal. At least 88% of European respondents said they would travel to Ontario for a boating holiday, with the numbers rising to more than 91% among U.S. customers. The company’s clients include vacationers from all walks of life, including small groups and couples, as well as families with children, with the U.S. market particularly attracted to premium cruisers like the Horizon, which offers large forward staterooms, roomy top-deck areas, diverse amenities, and a high level of comfort.

To facilitate the ease of handling for new and experienced boaters alike, the Le Boat Horizon is equipped with bow and stern thrusters for easy manoeuvring into and out of locks. It is also completely bumpered for safety and has a capped speed at 10km an hour for the Rideau.

All boats feature fully equipped kitchens, comfortable furnishings, showers and bathrooms, and warm air heating. They also feature air-conditioning, depending on the model. No experience or boating license is necessary. Instructions and an orientation are provided to first-time renters, ensuring they get the most out of their boating vacation.

Le Boat is in talks right now with Parks Canada about what is needed to implement its plan. According to a statement issued by Jewel Cunningham, director of Ontario waterways, the luxury self-hire boats would “fill a gap not provided by other boat rental operators, marinas and commercial tour boat operations on the Rideau Canal.”

Merrickville-Wolford Mayor Dave Nash is very excited about the prospect of having a new way for people from all over the world visit Merrickville. He personally introduced representatives of Le Boat to Merrickville last summer, introducing them also to what he informed them was the best ice-cream on the Rideau. His plan is to work with Le Boat as much as possible to ensure that visitors discover all that Merrickville has to offer. Booking will begin in Spring 2017 with the season beginning in May 2018 and running through October every year.

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