They are definitely not your usual travel reviewers. But then, Le Boat is not your usual travel holiday.
TV lovebirds Cameron Merchant and Jules Robinson, who starred in hit Married at first Sight, have just returned from a holiday on the waterways of Belgium courtesy of Le Boat vacations.
Le Boat is as uniquely French as a croissant. Picture a house boat, all to yourself or with up to four of your best friends, a well-stocked galley, bedrooms and toilet facilities, ready to welcome you as you cruise your way through the 3-4, 7, or 14 night planned itineraries through some of Europe’s most beautiful destinations.
They sailed in a self-drive cruiser canal boat that requires a boat handling demonstration prior to departure (no licence or experience necessary!). Le Boat provides their guests with full technical support, on board maps, boat handling guides and visitor information as well as passage through locks. All on-board equipment is included to make the stay comfortable, including towels and linens and the popular feature of an on-deck barbeque.
That’s what the loved-up duo tasted on the rivers and canals of Belgium during their one-week mini break from Nieuwpoort to Bruges and back, also taking in the tiny town of Oostende, which equals roughly 25 hours of cruising, down 165kms of waterways including 4 locks. It’s certainly not a hectic holiday schedule, as Le Boat recommends a leisurely itinerary of around 2-4 hours of cruising per day.
“Our favourite place was Nieuwpoort where we started, because it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. We had dinner with our friends at a pub and then stumbled back to our boat,” says Cam, reminiscing about the adventures.
So, who steered the ship? “Well my Father was a professional fisherman’” says Jules “But none of us have ever spent this much time on a boat like this, so we nominated two of our friends to take turns being the captains.”
Running costs are not included in the price of your boat hire with Le Boat, which means diesel, gas, engine wear and tear are charged by the engine hour and waterside services such as moorings and pump-out and water is on a personal use basis. Transport to and from the boat is also at your own expense.
But this extra hands-on experience didn’t phase Cam and Jules one bit, in fact it became one of the highlights of the trip for them and their mates. “Everyone had a role to play for the week,” says Cam, “the women made sure everyone was fed and watered. We kind of became like a team of soldiers in the end.”
Food and drink is at your own expense when travelling with Le Boat. “I even loved doing the local grocery shopping when we pulled into ports,” says Jules. “It was hilarious… I accidentally bought a giant bottle of cider one day, thinking I’d found a cheap champagne”.
While Jules and Cam admit the only downside to the week was some wet weather, it didn’t dampen their spirits whatsoever, with everyone embracing the sailing theme. “We did lose one sailor’s cap,” admits Cam, “But in the end the best thing about the entire trip was that everyone knuckled down and chipped in and it became like our own little home.”
Their verdict? Cam and Jules said they adored the holiday for its rustic, close-quarters camaraderie.
The question on everyone’s lips of course, is if the boat rocked that week for the lovebirds with rumours swirling of a baby on the way.
“No way!” Says Jules. “We were all in there on top of each other!” The boat did have three separate bedrooms. “The only babies we have come back with are the waffle babies and beer babies from being gluttons”.
Then again, when in Belgium, the destination of chocolate, wine, beer and beautiful scenery, what more are you supposed to do?
Cam and Jules haven’t ruled out returning to Europe for another boating adventure down the track, especially since Le Boat is so perfect for that romantic getaway and are the number one holiday boating company in Europe.
Perhaps they’ll choose Le Boat for their honeymoon later in the year…
Nieuwpoort Round Trip (3-4 nights)
Priced from $AUD1300 for a three night cruise for up to four people.
Nieuwpoort Return via Bruges (7-nights)
Priced from $AUD2450 for a seven night cruise for up to four people.
Nieuwpoort Return via Bruge, Ghent, Kortrijk & Oudenaarde (14-nights)
Priced from $AUD4800 for a 14 night cruise for up to four people.
For more: leboat.com.au