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10 of the best Hampshire boat cruises

PUBLISHED: 10:40 18 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:40 18 July 2017

Set sail on the Stavros S Niarchos

Set sail on the Stavros S Niarchos


As we enter high summer and the temperature rises, many of us head out and on to the water. Claire Pitcher has handpicked some exciting ways to explore the sea, rivers and canals around Hampshire

Tall Ships Adventures

Want to give sailing a go but don’t want to commit to a long voyage? Day sails on these wonderful ships give a fascinating insight into life at sea. You will also learn some of the fundamental aspects of sailing. Sail on the 200ft brig-rigged tall ship Stavros S Niarchos for the day and you can climb the masts, take the helm and set the sails. There’s food on board as well as tea, coffee and juice. No sailing experience is necessary.

It costs £139 for the day and you can book online at tallships.org

Puffin cruises, Lymington Quay

Running frequently throughout the day and with full commentary, the 30-minute ‘Puffin Billi’ cruise takes you down the Lymington River past the marinas and through protected salt marshes, which are a haven for seabirds. Every hour from 11am there is also a picnic cruise. Pack something nice to eat and take a leisurely cruise out into The Solent. There’s also a sunset cruise to Alum Bay, the Needles and lighthouse at 6pm and pirate cruises for the children.

River cruises are £7.90 for adults, £3.90 for children. The pirate cruise is £7.90 for adults, £4.90 for children. See puffincruiseslymington.com or call 07850947618

Beaulieu River Cruise

This 30-minute leisurely cruise on the beautiful Beaulieu River is accompanied by a commentary revealing the river’s history and the wildlife that inhabits its banks. You have to pay to get into Buckler’s Hard to go on the cruise, but if you walk into Buckler’s Hard from Beaulieu along the public footpath (two miles) there is no charge.

Tickets are £4.50 for adults, £4 for seniors, £2.50 for children and £12.50 for a family. If you pay on the day it’s 50p more and you will need to pay cash onboard. Book in advance at bucklershard.co.uk

Shieldhall Steam Ship

Shieldhall is a heritage steam ship operating from Southampton and a flagship of the National Historic Fleet. It’s the largest working steamship of her type in Britain and is licensed to carry a maximum of 200 passengers. On board, the galley serves hot and cold food, plus there’s a bar for that important G&T.

Tickets range from £20 to £50 depending on which cruise you choose. See the options at ss-shieldhall.co.uk

Solent & Wightline Cruises

Whether you are looking for boat trips around Portsmouth Harbour or a cruise from the Isle of Wight, Solent and Wightline have a route for you – they can even tailor a cruise to suit. There are trips from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, Gunwharf Quays, The Historic Dockyard and Ocean Village in Southampton. Among their regular cruises is the Portsmouth Harbour Tour from Gunwharf Quays (£8 adults, £5 children), and Two Ports Cruise of Cowes and Portsmouth.

For a full list of seasonal cruises see solentcruises.co.uk and book by calling 01983 564602

John Pinkerton Canal Cruises

From the sea and rivers, to canal trips and the John Pinkerton II for a cruise in the peaceful surroundings of the Basingstoke Canal. You can choose a shorter cruise from the Fox & Hounds pub, Fleet, for £6 for adults and £4 for under 16s. There’s a longer two-hour trip from Odiham where a family ticket for two adults and two children is £25. Public trips depart from Colt Hill wharf, Odiham, heading east towards Winchfield, or west towards Greywell and Odiham (King John’s) Castle. The John Pinkerton is owned by The Basingstoke Canal Society with a crew of volunteers. There’s a bar and refreshments on all cruises.

Book online at basingstoke-canal.org.uk

Exhilaration Boat Rides

If a leisurely sail is too relaxed for you, you could take a one-hour speed voyage taking in the Solent, Southsea, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight coastline. It costs £30 for adults and £21 for children (12 and under). Or just turn up for a 15-minute blast for £10 adults, £7 for 12 and under. Exhilaration also offers harbour tours, a half-day Cowes trip, and private charters.

Book online at exhilarationboatrides.co.uk

Waverley Paddle Steamer

The last seagoing paddle steamer in the world was built on the Clyde in 1947 to replace the original Waverley that sank off Dunkirk in the 1940 evacuation. The Waverley was originally built to sail between Craigendorran and Arrochar in West Scotland. Each year she sails around Britain offering regular trips at various ports and piers along the way. Between September 8-21, she comes to the south coast.

Prices vary depending on the length of journey but as an example, a Southampton, Needles and Lighthouse cruise lasts eight hours and tickets are £43 for adults, £21.50 for children. Book online at waverleyexcursions.co.uk

Oyster Boat Terror

As the last remaining example of a gaff-rigged, open-decked sailing boat, Terror is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Emsworth Harbour. Terror sits low in the water and with high side-decks, everyone on board feels secure. She’s wide in the beam too, so nice and stable. A trip lasts around two hours, visiting the most beautiful parts of Emsworth Harbour, the inlets that wind down to Langstone and out into the channel. Every penny of your booking fee goes towards preserving Terror for future generations. The cost is £20 per adult and £10 for children from six to 16 years old. Up to six passengers can be accommodated on any one trip. Children must be six or over and each child must be accompanied by an adult. If the whole boat is booked, the cost reduces to £110.

To find out more call Emsworth Yacht Harbour on 01243 377727 and ask for Terror bookings. Visit the website at oysterboatterror.org.uk

Gosport Ferry

There are 15 summertime cruises to experience on any of the three ferries run by Gosport Ferry. Take a day trip to Lymington for £19.75, a Medina River Cream Tea Cruise for £21, ‘See the Cruise Ships’ for £19.50, experience Cowes Fireworks Night for £33 or make your way up the River Hamble for £19.50. Those are just a handful to choose from.

See them all at gosportferry.co.uk and to book

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