TORONTO — The news reports coming in from Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands are heartbreaking, and the images even more so.
ON THE RIDEAU CANAL — A leisurely cruise along the Rideau Canal with Le Boat makes it clear why this holiday style, already a strong sell in Europe, is increasingly popular in Canada too. For agents, here are the key takeaways: Le Boat pays commission, and clients don’t need a boating license to take a Le Boat vacation.
Le Boat is hoping to encourage more Canadians to embrace its lifestyle of holidaying on the water. Now in the middle of its second season on Canada’s Rideau Canal, Le Boat is also celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“In 2018, we launched with 16 boats and sold out 82%,” says Lisa Mclean, Le Boat’s Marketing Manager for Canada, U.S. and Latin America.
Le Boat’s ambitious plan is to add four boats every year, hoping to double their presence on the Rideau Canal in less than five years.
Meanwhile in Europe, Le Boat can be found on waterways in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, offering different sized boats as well as packages for three, four and seven days.
In Canada Le Boat is headquartered midway along the Rideau in Smiths Falls, ON. The city built a new pier exclusively for Le Boat’s use on the canal. Travellers can start from Smiths Falls or from Seeley’s Bay, located closer to Kingston.
Partnering with Parks Canada and many of the towns in Ontario’s Lanark County, Le Boat visitors will notice signs (‘Le Welcome, Le Boat’) where they can find out information or receive discounts at cafes and restaurants.
The United Empire Loyalists settled this region of Eastern Ontario and thrived thanks to the waterways and industry. Now these historic towns are forever connected by the 24 lockstations along the Rideau and the popularity of summer vacations in Lanark County.
Parks Canada, which oversees the Rideau Canal, is helpful to boaters, with Parks Canada staff assisting with navigating through the locks, offering tips to ensure a relaxed boat holiday and letting Le Boaters know where they can moor during the day or overnight at private marinas, township marinas or the Parks Canada moorings at the lockstations.
A popular choice for the Rideau is the Horizon 3 Le Boat, which includes three cabins with ensuite bathrooms and windows with blinds and screens. The side cabins feature twin beds and a double bed, while a double cabin is found in the bow, with separate toilet and shower rooms. All cabins include lifejackets, wardrobes, air cooling/heat, USB ports, electrical outlets and storage.
The interior is a sleek combination of white and pale gray with navy accents, with numerous windows. There is an indoor steering position, kitchen, indoor dining with bench and stool seating (all which have storage within) and a rear sundeck area.
Guests can easily walk along the sides of the boat to reach the front sundeck with seating or climb the ladder to the partially-shaded ‘fundeck’ with outdoor steering position, seating, lounge areas and dining area with bench seating, table, sink and barbecue hot plate.
Ideal for couples, friends, bachelor and bachelorette parties, Le Boat is also suitable for families, but recommended for children age eight and older. A boating license is not required for Le Boat and every boat includes linens, towels and cooking/dining amenities (including refrigerator, microwave and traditional oven) as well as a flatscreen TV.
Guests are given an orientation of Le Boat amenities and the need-to-knows for navigating the waterway, waterside services and boat safety. Extras to consider for Le Boat holidays (for an additional cost) include bicycles, fishing dinghy, groceries, kayak, paddleboard, WiFi router and cleaning service.
Clients can also bring their dogs, for an additional fee.
“It’s been the busiest year to date on the canal,” says Jane Graham of Experience Our Merrickville, who with her partner Anney de Gobeo launched walking tours of her town to showcase the history, artisans, boutiques and restaurants to the increasing number visitors to this part of Ontario.
For Eastern Ontario’s small towns, like Merrickville, Manotick, Perth and Smith Falls, Le Boat offers another way for visitors to explore the region and experience summertime living on the water.
In addition to paying agents commission, Le Boat is also happy to arrange fams for travel agents.
Le Boat’s website for the Canadian market is leboat.ca/en.