For the first time, the European self-drive boating company, Le Boat, is expanding into North America and will start offering breaks along the Rideau Canal in Canada

From May 2018, Le Boat will be offering holidays along Ontario’s historic Rideau Canal in Canada.

The company has announced it is initially bringing 16 state-of-the-art Horizon cruisers to the canal, with plans to double the luxury fleet to 32 over the next five years.

The £9.5 million investment will open up the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site to holidaymakers keen to explore the scenic waterway on the 10th anniversary of its UNESCO designation.

Opened in 1832 and stretching from the Canadian capital of Ottawa to Kingston, on Lake Ontario, the Rideau is the oldest continuously operating canal in North America.

The 125-mile engineering marvel connects lakes and rivers, with 47 locks and 24 lock stations taking holidaymakers through the heart of some of Ontario’s most picturesque scenery.

The Rideau Canal was chosen in response to a recent Le Boat survey which found that 88% of those based in Europe and 91% of US customers would be happy to travel to Ontario for a boating holiday.

Rideau Canal,

A section of the Rideau Canal. Credit: Kristoferb

Le Boat, which is one of Europe’s biggest self-drive boating companies, will be based in the town of Smiths Falls, in eastern Ontario.

With a history dating back to the American Revolutionary War, the company hopes the town’s combination of rich cultural heritage, natural beauty and wealth of outdoor activities will provide the ideal backdrop for visitors.

Commenting on the announcement, Le Boat’s managing director, Cheryl Brown, said: “We are delighted to have chosen the historic Rideau Canal for Le Boat’s first operations outside of Europe.”

“Already popular with locals lucky enough to have this idyllic waterway on their doorstep, we hope that our new base will open up its scenic potential to holidaymakers of all ages from Europe as well as North America,” she continued.

“Our customers love nothing better than making the most of the great outdoors. So, with the Rideau Canal offering up a magical combination of watersports, hiking, cycling, fishing, swimming and bird-watching, we’re confident that it won’t be long before more travellers will have fallen under its spell,” said Brown.

“We expect our new Le Boat base on the Rideau Canal to bring important economic benefits to Ontario,” continued the managing director.

“We are also expecting extended stays in Ontario from visitors ‘book-ending’ their Rideau Canal excursion to enjoy the wonderfully diverse offerings of Ontario,” concluded Brown.

The announcement of the expansion into Canada comes after Le Boat unveiled its new wave of Horizon models for 2017.

This follows the success of the 2016 model, which was designed and built exclusively for Le Boat.

Comprising the largest top-deck of any boat of its size, a sunbathing area, outside seating area and a bright and spacious saloon with excellent all around vision, the Horizon’s focus is on comfort, luxury and easy handling.

Now Le Boat will expand its current fleet and launch a series of new high-end self-drive Horizon models to suit larger groups in 2017.

All of the new larger Horizon models will be built to the same high-spec as the original innovative cruiser (which catered towards couples and small families with one master cabin and a second smaller cabin), but each will either sleep up to five, seven or nine people.

They will feature the same ‘fun deck’ area for barbecues and sunbathing, providing spacious areas for socialising inside and out and deliver a five star experience to more holidaymakers.