Offbeat Timeshare - A Narrowboat in the UK

Offbeat Timeshare - A Narrowboat in the UK

Would you like a change from your typical timeshare holiday? The big resorts in Orlando, Palm Springs and Hawaii all have their appeal, but when you're ready to try something quieter, more adventurous, and totally unique, how about vacationing on your own canal boat in England?

Cruising on a UK narrowboat Cruising the canals on your own private narrowboat can be peaceful and scenic

You can exchange your timeshare to spend a week cruising leisurely through a network of canals in the UK, aboard your own private narrowboat. This offbeat vacation is sure to make a memorable trip!

A private cruising vacation on a canal boat

Having your own boat means you can set your own schedule and go where you want, when you want. You can spend most of your time cruising around the canals, stopping occasionally when you reach an interesting spot. If you find a place you like, you could stay there a couple of days, using your narrowboat as a base while you explore the area. You could even spend the entire time on board at the marina, using the boat as a floating condo, but then you'd be missing out on the boating part!

Before you take off on your voyage, knowledgeable instructors will go over everything with you, and make sure you understand where to go, how to use the boat, and all the safety precautions you should be aware of.



For the most part, you'll be traveling along quiet canals. The water is calm, and the pace is slow. The recommended speed on these narrowboats is a leisurely 3 miles per hour, so picture floating through the countryside enjoying the scenery, not speeding along leaving a foaming wake behind you.

Locks along a UK canal Some routes involve going through a series of small locks on the canal

Some canals are pretty flat, while others have small locks you need to pass through to go up or down a level. There's even one canal that crosses an aquaduct, so you're boating high above the surrounding scenery.

Along the way, you'll find forests and bridges, castles and villages, shops and pubs. After a day of cruising, touring and exploring, what's more inviting than a friendly pub?

What life is like on a narrowboat

Because they need to fit through narrow canals and locks and under low bridges, these boats have to be long and slim. The floor plan is linear, and each room is limited to the width of the boat. As on other boats, space is at a premium, and the design makes the best use of the space available.

Staying on a narrow canal boat is kind of like being in a skinny RV on the water. You have your own self-contained space with everything you need, and you travel around with it where you choose.

Cabin interior on a UK narrowboat The main cabin on your narrowboat offers space to relax

This isn't a vacation for exciting nightlife. It's about living at a slower pace for awhile, enjoying the simpler pleasures in life. You might spend some time strolling along forested pathways, curling up with a good book, or enjoying an evening of conversation over a pint or two.

You can choose to cook your meals on board, since each boat has a compact galley with dishes, cookware and kitchen facilities. If you're more into exploring than cooking, you can find pubs and restaurants ashore and eat many of your meals out instead.

Galley aboard a canal boat Each narrowboat has a small but capable galley

Pros and cons of a narrowboat vacation

  • Staying on a canal boat makes for a unique vacation. This is a very cool way to see parts of the countryside that most tourists never see.
  • You've got flexibility and you're in charge. There are canals around the country, with different scenery and sights. You can choose your starting point based on what you're most interested in, and then pick your own route and stopping points from there.
  • You can combine a week on a narrowboat with a more typical tourist itinerary. For instance, spending a week in London doing city sightseeing and activities plus a week on the canals, would give you a fascinating and varied vacation in England.
  • A narrowboat vacation is relaxing and leisurely - a chance to slow down, enjoy the scenery, and soak in the feel of the place. It will take you far, far away from the fast-paced world that most of us live in.
Bedroom on one of the canal boats The bedrooms on a narrowboat are compact and cozy
  • This isn't a luxury resort. You don't have concierge service, housekeeping service, a swimming pool or spa treatments. A canal boat vacation doesn't have the comforts and amenities of a big timeshare resort.
  • If you're used to staying in spacious villas, this may seem small and crowded. On the other hand, if you've ever stayed in an RV or sailboat, you'll be familar with living in a smaller space.
  • On one of these boating vacations, you need to take care of things that don't normally concern you at a timeshare, like refilling your water tanks when they get low.

All in all, if you're an adventurous type who enjoys a bit of do-it-yourself and would love to try something totally different, you may enjoy a narrowboat vacation in England.

UK narrowboat timeshare options

There are several companies that provide narrowboat vacations for timeshare owners, in various parts of England. You can often find these available for exchanges or extra vacations on RCI and Interval International. Here are a few possibilities to get you started.

  • Canalboat at Sawley Marina Canaltime at Sawley Canaltime at Sawley Marina - This marina is located near Nottingham, and you can cruise through the land of Robin Hood. You can explore Sherwood Forest, wander along footpaths, wonder at castles, and visit villages and museums in this historic region. The narrowboats have 1 or 2 bedrooms, and sleep up to 6.
    How to stay here? These canal boats are available on RCI (code #6073, gold crown).
  • Narrowboat from Variety Cruisers Variety Cruisers Variety Cruisers - These canal boats are based in Derbyshire, 40 miles north of Birmingham. Well-appointed boats let you cruise through this scenic area, discovering its canals, locks, bridges, and villages. All boats have comfortable interiors and capable kitchens. The marina offers a store, picnic area and wifi.
    How to stay here? These canal boats are available through II (code CUI).
  • Classic narrowboat Classic Narrowboats Classic Narrowboats - This operation is also based in Derbyshire. The extensive marina facilities include everything from hairdressers to butchers. Aboard your boat, you can cruise along the canals and discover picturesque villages, hand-operated locks, museums, and shops. 2 or 3 bedroom boats can sleep up to 8.
    How to stay here? These narrowboats are available on RCI (code #6426, gold crown).

Destination details for UK narrowboats

  • Where it is - You can find narrowboats based in marinas in different parts of England. Check out different options, and select one you feel has the most appealing sights nearby.
    See Canal map of England.
  • How to get here - If you're making a narrowboat timeshare stay the core of your vacation, you can fly into whatever regional airport is nearest your base marina. If you're doing a combination trip, you can fly into London, then travel to the marina by train and taxi.
  • Weather - This will vary a bit with your specific cruising area, but in general, expect a temperate climate. Highs are usually in the 60s from June to Sept. Winter can be chilly and damp, with highs in the 40s from Dec through Feb. You may find some rain any time of year.
    See Weather averages for Derby, England.

Comments? Questions?

Timeshare Owner's Guide to Winning the Timeshare GameHave you ever traveled on a UK narrowboat? What did you think of it? Any tips to pass on to others? Let us know in the Reply section below!

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Timeshares offer some very cool possibilities like these canal boat vacations. Many people don't even know about all the options they have available for how to use their timeshare. My new Timeshare Owner's Guide covers tips and tricks to help timeshare owners maximize their ownership and get the best vacations possible. If you'd like to discover how to get more enjoyment from your timeshare than ever, check it out!
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Hi! I’m Deanna, founder of Winning the Timeshare Game, and author of the books. After running an international tour company, I’m now into the fascinating world of timeshares. I enjoy sharing all the tips I discover, and I’d love to see everyone have as much fun with their timeshares as we do!

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5 Comments

  1. Brenda Gerold

    Can you ride on outside of these boats?

    • Hi Brenda -
      I'm not sure about all of them, but a lot of them do have a small amount of space where you could sit outside and admire the view. They look like fun, don't they?
      Thanks for your comment! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Should I upgrade my week to RCI points?

  2. Paul Leese

    I have a week's timeshare at Kruger Park Lodge South Africa - a Gold Crown resort. Is it feasible to swap for a narrowboat week?

    • Hi Paul -
      Thanks for your comment! If your current resort is part of RCI and you're a member, then you should be able to make the exchange. When you deposit your week, you'll get TPUs in RCI, and as long as you have enough TPUs, then you can get the narrowboat. If one week doesn't give you enough TPUs, then you might need to combine two weeks in order to make the exchange.
      Good luck, and hope you have fun! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...RCI Platinum - 2016 Evolution and what's next?

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