One of the fastest growing areas of the cruise industry is self- drive cruising. The name is self-explanatory…you simply hire a boat and skipper it yourself.
However this holiday option is seldom publicised despite its popularity. Australia has many waterways ideal for this type of cruising.
The rivers and lakes of the east coast, the extensive waterways of the Gold Coast and the Whitsundays are all long time favourites for DIY yachties. And cruising along the Murray River, you see thousands upon thousands of houseboats and cruise boats, many of them available for hire.
Overseas, the options are endless, ranging from traditional canal and river barges of Europe to million dollar cruise boats in the Americas.
It means you don’t have to own an expensive boat to enjoy a holiday; you simply hire one at your leisure.
Like all undertakings, the more experience you have in boating, the better equipped you are to handle a vessel. However cruise boat hire companies are always willing to help a newcomer.
They will teach you how to handle a boat and you are always in radio contact should something go amiss. If you are still unsure, they can arrange for an expert to skipper the boat during the day, leaving you at anchor overnight.
A good idea is to get some experience on a boat in your local area before you go on your holiday. Most cruise clubs provide opportunities for learners to spend time on a boat, often in racing conditions.
Boats can also be stocked with food and supplies so that you just have to show up at the dock and you are ready to go.
Boats are a great way for a group of friends or family to get away from the rush and bustle of normal life. Houseboats in particular can house a lot of people in relative comfort. They have full kitchen facilities, large dining area and plenty of deck space.
Inland waterways are normally fairly easy to navigate but you still have to be aware of winds and currents. Getting the boat through narrow locks and docking at wharves can also be tricky.
Australian Cruise Magazine is building a directory of self -drive cruise options around the world. If you have a favourite area you have cruised please let us know. There is nothing like personal experience in this kind of endeavour and your advice will be invaluable to fellow DIY aspirants.