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Windermere Lake Cruises (Cumbria)

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5 Reviews

Enjoy taking in England's largest lake located in the Lake District of Cumbria.

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    5 Reviews
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    • More +
      30.08.2012 00:56



      When in the Lake District get out on the lakes!

      There are 3 cruise lines to choose from. The Yellow which does the South Lakelands taking in a lot of the beautiful homes and low lying land around Windermere. The Blue which is the main tourist option and does the central lake loop and the Red Cruise which take you to the east side of the lake towards Ambleside.

      I did the Red Cruise, this one has the most dramatic views. The biggest mountains and rugged scenery. I would recommend getting off in Ambleside and take a wonder in to town maybe a walk to the waterfalls, then take one of the last boats back when the sun is starting to go down behind the mountains. You get some amazing photos the views then are even more breathtaking.

      Try and do this when the sun is out, you really wouldn't get the best out of it having to sit indoors when it is raining. Also to do it in the winter is nice when the mountains are snow capped.

      This is by far the best way to see Windermere and lets face it your in the Lake District it's only logical to take boat ride!

      Worth the £10 we spent.

      **Try and avoid the Blue Line, this is the busiest of the 3, full of tourist and the least interesting of the 2 routes, it is the cheapest but its worth paying the little bit more to do the Red or Yellow Cruise**


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      15.03.2012 15:44
      Very helpful



      5 stars

      On Sunday we decided to take a drive to the Lake District. Living in West Yorkshire we knew we could do the drive in around an hour and a half and have some good quality family time together before the manic few days ahead of us this weekend. Nothing pleases me more than seeing the children running around outdoors, filling their lungs full of fresh air and all being together. We had no plans set in stone for when we got to Lake Windermere but we naturally made our way to the Lake side in Bowness upon our arrival. We have been a few times over the years but have never had the time or it hasn't quite suited our plans to make a trip on the cruises that run regularly across the Lake. This time the children were eager to take a trip on a boat and we decided it would be nice to relax on the Lake for an hour or so and let my husband mess around with his new camera.

      As we made our way to the ticket area and towards the information boards, a man approached us to offer us advice. I was most grateful for this as I didn't know which cruise to select (there are three to choose from) and which would be most suited to our time frame and what we wanted to do. The man wasn't pushy at all, and wasn't actually even the one selling the tickets anyway (you have to make your way to the ticket booth to purchase them), and so I found his information useful knowing he wasn't trying to push us into any particular cruise.

      We settled on the most expensive option (the Red Cruise) which would offer us the longest trip (around 90 minutes should we stay on the boat and not get off at the specific stops), and suited us the most on that particular day. One of the cruises was quite short and simply sailed around the middle of the lake, and the other option took us to an area which was mostly closed on Sunday anyway.

      We had timed our arrival at the Lake perfectly as the cruise we wanted to take was departing in a few minutes so we didn't have to wait at all, we literally got straight on to the boat, found a seat and were off in a few minutes. There was plenty of seating despite us being the last on and it being a lovely sunny day. I think I noticed a capacity of over 500 on one of the signs. The top deck has benches with a canopy and is out in the open. This is where we initially sat to watch our departure and was ideal for my husband who was taking pictures of the scenery as there isn't a glass partition. The children were soon eager to explore though and after about 15 minutes I took them into the lounge area downstairs which is inside. This is perfect for colder weather or for families, and I was happier to let go of the children and let them have a little more freedom than upstairs. In the lounge area is a bar area which served snacks and drinks, although we were happy with the little picnic I'd brought in my bag (as mums do!). I saw plenty of people walking past with hot drinks so this is an option. The deck below had another lounge although we didn't visit that one, and bathroom facilities (my youngest couldn't believe there were toilets on a boat!).

      The scenery you will get to see while on the cruise is spectacular. The Lake District is one of my favourite places and you are guaranteed to be given magnificent views where ever you are in the lakes, but on the Lake the views seem to jump out even more, once away from the hustle and bustle of the people and the shops. The peacefulness and tranquillity just make the cruise such a worthwhile thing to do. For anyone interested in photography, the mountain scenery and secluded bays will make beautiful photos that you can treasure forever. When my girls weren't busy throwing themselves in front of my husband's camera, he was busy taking pictures of the scenery that seemed to offer something new everywhere you looked. The on board narrative which isn't constant but explains the history of buildings and certain areas of the Lake is a nice touch. I don't normally like narratives on tourist trips as they seem to bombard you with useless trivia that no one has an interest in, but the information it provided really was interesting. At one point on the Lake it explained that an inventor had died over 100 years ago after testing his boat at 100 miles an hour, it also explained the history behind some of the grand buildings including one where Beatrix Potter regularly holidayed and visited while writing some of her works including Peter Rabbit.

      We chose not to get off the boat and have to wait around for others to come along as we got on the boat at 10.55 and had left a massive picnic basket in the car so we wanted to be back for lunch! This suited us perfectly as we were able to relax and take in the lovely views, and then have a wander around Bowness which is full of shops, cafes and restaurants as well as The World Of Beatrix Potter attraction (review to follow later!). Bowness is known as the heart of the Lake District and is a gorgeous holiday town that I always enjoy visiting. Other stops you can make on this cruise include Ambleside which is about 1 mile away from the pier of Bowness and is a lovely Lakeside village with mountains and lovely scenery. This is a lovely place to visit if you want to get away from the busier Bowness. Lakeside is at the southern end of the Lake and has a Steam Railway (which was closed on Sunday) and an Aquarium.

      The boat was wheelchair friendly and on our trip there was an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair. The friendly staff helped him on and off with no problems and the lounge area with plenty of tables and seating was ideal for wheelchair users. The only problem wheelchair users would experience would be lack of accessible toilets as these are down very steep steps with no ramp.

      The cruises available are:

      The Red Cruise (Bowness to Ambleside or vice versa)

      The Yellow Cruise (Bowness to Lakeside or vice versa)

      The Blue Cruise (Island cruises from Bowness)

      I think prices are dependent on seasons and I would recommend checking prices online before you visit. The Red Cruise cost £9.50 per adult and £5.70 per child, with under 5's being able to travel for free. We took our 2 children (1 under 5) and my teenage sister and so were able to get a family ticket for £27.50. The option to pay by credit and debit cards are also handy. Tickets can also be purchased at home online and the ticket can be printed off and shown as you get on to the boat.

      While on board I noticed a leaflet for special 'light night' cruises where you can enjoy Jazz Buffet Cruises which lasts for 2.5 hours. The boat has a license to serve alcohol so may be a nice option for something a little different on a nice summer evening.

      All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this little cruise and would be happy to do it again on my next visit to the Lakes, although it may initially seem expensive, the views and the peacefulness of being on the water is most definitely worth it. Parents of young children will enjoy exploring the boat and watching out for wildlife in and around the Lake as well as some of the majestic buildings (such as a Castle built for a Doctor around 100 years ago). Definitely recommended.


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      17.09.2011 18:10
      Very helpful
      1 Comment



      Even if the mere is windy the cruise will calm the waves

      You know what it's like, kids off school for the very long 6 weeks summer holidays, under your feet, complaining that they've nothing to do, moaning that they're bored. So you rack your brain to try and find something to do, especially on those very rare sunny days that do happen sometimes in England, (yes they do, sometimes).

      That's exactly what I've had to do over the passed few weeks to stop my kids from arguing with each other. I've taken them to many places, shown htem things that they enjoyed, and made them suffer sometimes by taking them places that I knew they'd hate. So when I mentioned to them about a trip to the Lakes they jumped at the chance because they love going there as they like to wander around the many fells and walks.

      Unfortunately, for them, what I had in mind was not a walk around the fells but a boat trip along one of the Lakes, but I didn't tell them as I know my eldest is a little afraid of boat rides, (although I don't know why?).

      The boat trip I had in mind was one of the many trips that they have on a regular basis which goes along possibly the most popular body of water in the Lake District, the lake that is in Bowness on Windermere, that's right it's Lake Windermere and the lake Cruises that they have on offer.

      I'm not going to tell you about the Lake itself, or Bowness as a small town, it is the actual boat cruises that I am talking about, the boat cruises that all start, and end, in Bowness itself, from the piers that protrude into Lake Windermere.

      ** WHERE ARE THE BOATS THEN..? And how do I get there?

      The boats are all moored on Lake Windermere in Bowness-on-Windermere, just off the promenade, which is easy to get too by road, train and bus.
      By road it is on the A592, with car parking being found in the many carparks scattered around the area, some are free but most are pay and display. There are Coach drop off points in front of the piers and also in the first car park next to the toilet block along Glebe Road.
      There are also several buses passing through Bowness on a regular basis, with stops in front of the piers. These buses come from Windermere, Ambleside and other places.
      The nearest train station is in Windermere, which is about 2 miles away, and from there you can get a bus or a taxi to the Lake, the taxi's have a waiting space on the edge of Glebe road and there are usually several there waiting to take you where ever you want to go.

      ** THE CRUISES and PRICES...

      There are three main cruises in all which set off from Bowness piers, plus there is one which sets off from Ambleside.

      * The red cruise goes to Ambleside pier, stopping to allow you to disembark, maybe taking a later boat back, then it returns to Bowness pier, this cruise takes about 70 minutes. The cost is £9.50 for Adults, £5.70 for children and £27.50 for a family

      * The yellow cruise, which takes around 90 minutes, goes to the Lakes Aquarium, which is opposite Fell Foot Park, stopping to allow you to disembark, maybe taking a late boat back, and then returns to Bowness pier. The price for this trip is £9.80 for and Adult, £5.90 for children and £28.50 for a family.

      * The blue cruise, which takes approximately 45 minutes, and is the one we went on last time, goes around the island, passed the car ferry, a little way towards Fell Foot park then returns to the pier, allowing you to take in the scenery of the lake sides. The price for this trip is £7.00 for Adults, £3.50 for Children and £19.25 for a family.

      Family tickets are for 2 adults and up to 3 children.

      ** THE BOATS...

      * The Swan and the Teal are the biggest of the bunch, having three decks and capable of holding up to 180 passengers at a time. These boats are ideal for hosting group parties as they offer services such as dining and drinking, with dancing on the upper open top deck.

      * The Tern is the elder of the cruisers and can hold up to 80 passengers on its two decks. The lower deck I split into two sections with one section having a licensed bar.

      * The Lakeland Vessels are more up to date launches and can hold around 70 people. They all have two decks, with the top deck being open topped and the lower deck having a licensed bar.

      * Cumbria Class Vessels are smaller than the Lakelands, capable of holding up to 50 people, but there design is very similar with the double decks and open top look.

      All boats can be pre-hired for special occasions such as wedding receptions, birthdays and such like, just contact the booking office for more information.
      There are toilets on each boat, although on the shorter trips you'd probably be back in port before you'd finished your business.
      As for wheel chairs, there is a ramp provided for getting on and off the boats, although it is advised to pre-advise the 'staff' so that they can get the ramp in position. But you'd never get a wheelchair on the upper decks.


      Each cruise sets off at timed intervals and the start times are written on the boards which are positioned outside the ticket offices, showing the coloured cruises and the times of departure, plus the length of time the cruise takes.
      The boats can all be boarded from the piers which are situated along the front in Bowness-on-Windermere, with each being colour coded for easy negotiation. The wooden ticket offices are positioned along the water front and are all well signed, telling you what they are.

      ** MY OPINION...

      I have been to Windermere several time, overnight stops, weeks long breaks or a simple day out, but I have only been on the cruises once or twice. The latest one I went on was on the Miss Cumbria, which is one of the smaller vessels but still quite a spectacular way to travel.

      When we found somewhere to park I told the kids what the plan was, having to gently persuade my eldest daughter with a bribe of a nice meal at the local 'carvery', which included as much ice-cream as she could eat. This bribe worked a treat and before too long we were ready for a lovely boat ride on a beautiful day, not too hot and, for once in the Lakes, not raining.

      Once we'd bought our ticket it was just a matter of waiting for the next timed cruise for our particular coloured ticket, checking the boards in front of the ticket offices to see when that was, and luckily we only had to wait a few minutes before we saw the boat coming getting into position, dropping off the passengers who had just had their trip, and now it was our turn.
      The switch over, so to speak, took about ten minutes in all, with them departing, the staff doing a quick check along the boat, and our group boarding.
      We decided to take a seat on the top deck right at the back, mainly so I could stand up and take pictures without getting in anyone's way.
      Then, with a sudden engine thrust, the boat set off, reversing away from the pier into Lake Windermere, leaving the bustling Bowness centre behind.

      It was then just a matter of settling back and enjoying the views as the boat floated on its merry way, every so often the announcement stating where in the Lake we were and what we were supposed to look at. The views consisted of stunning scenery and some very grand buildings, including a humongous hotel peeking out from behind the trees and some stunning new builds whose architectural skills are something else.

      The cruise itself, as with all the cruises, is so gentle as the boat slid along the water, even my daughter barely felt scared as the lack of movement made her feel as if she was still on land. Although this stillness does depend on the weather so I wouldn't take her on a trip when the winds are whipping across the Lakes surface.

      Each cruise takes a different length of time, depending on which one you choose, so it's all down to how much time you have and how long you want to spend on the water. If you're unsure about how you'd cope on the boats then I do recommend opting for the shorter cruise, the Blue cruise, which takes 45 minutes, although once afloat the time just flies by as the scenery gently floats by. Then maybe go onto the longer cruises, just until your stomach settles and any sea-sickness feeling disappears, (it is possible even though it's a lake).
      As I said, I have been on a few of the different boats, except the Tern, and have found them very comfortable and well equipped, making me feel as though I'd be well treated if the worst case scenario happened, (think Titanic). The views from the top deck are spectacular, but then again the views from the lower deck are as good, only the window frames can get in the way, especially if you want to take any photographs, with the glass sometimes spoiling the shots if the sun shines on it. So I do recommend sitting on the top deck, especially for the Blue trip.

      In all, a very pleasant way to see parts of the Lake District that you don't normally see and a great way to pass an hour or so.
      Just choose a boat and enjoy the experience, you'll love it and probably want to do it again and again.


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        19.10.2009 20:32
        Very helpful




        Prior to my recent family trip to Ambleside I had decided that a trip to the Lake District would not be complete without actually going on a lake. I had looked up all of the details about lake cruises and then left them in London. So, it was pure luck that during a not very pleasant walk we ended up at Brockhole Visitors Centre where we discovered that it would be much easier to take a boat across the lake rather than battle with traffic and lack of pavements.

        We boarded the boat at Brockhole where we were greeted by two very friendly people. Not having planned the trip we didn't know much about where we were going or how much the boat was going to cost but the staff could not have been more helpful. They made sure that we got a good deal with the ticket price and told us a little bit about our destination.

        Windermere Lake Cruises have several different kinds of boats. On the way to Bowness we took one of the Traditional Launches. I absolutely loved this. I have done my share of travelling by boat, I love being on water so I always take the chance to take cruises if I can. The thing that made this cruise stand out was how old fashioned the boat was. It's there in the name, it's traditional and tradition for me is a big part of the attraction to the Lake District. It seemed fitting that the boat should be like this.

        Before getting on the boat I had worried that it would be an unpleasant journey because the boat didn't look very modern but I found that it was quite the opposite. There was a permanent vibration that was a little bit unpleasant but for the most part it was quite a smooth ride. My sister did start to feel a little bit queasy towards the end of the journey but she is pregnant so that could be why.

        The staff did give a little bit of information about the lake. For me personally I would have liked to hear more but this isn't a tour boat so I wasn't expecting it and the information that they did give us was interesting. In some ways it was nice just to be able to relax while we slowly made our way across Windermere. The scenery is breath taking and I think the best way to see it is from the lake. You just get a completely different perspective.

        We sat outside on the boat but there is space inside for people to sit. The day we did the cruise was the only day that it wasn't raining and it was actually very sunny. I'm not good in the heat and sun for too long but the journey wasn't that long and I enjoyed sitting out in the sun, taking in my surroundings and just being peaceful. It gave me a real sense of tranquility. The wooden benches are even surprisingly comfortable!

        On the way back we took the Swan and Teal boat. I wasn't particularly impressed with this boat and didn't enjoy the journey. The boat was just too big and it felt more like it was purely for transport rather than an enjoyable trip across the lake. It wasn't overly crowded and there was plenty of place for people to sit so it wasn't as bad as normal public transport but it felt like public transport all the same.

        Overall I had a really good experience with Windermere Lake Cruises. I didn't realise at the time that they had five different kinds of boats, if I had I would have wanted to try them all! As it is I can recommend the traditional launches, I had a very enjoyable, tranquil trip on one of them but I found the Swan and Teal to be less pleasant, although an efficient way to travel.

        Prices vary depending on how many trips you plan to take and where you are departing from and going to. I believe the prices are changing soon so the best thing to do would be to visit the website.



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          27.08.2009 20:35
          Very helpful



          A great cruise on Lake Windermere

          Each time we go to the Lake District we go on at least one cruise on Lake Windermere and our last visit was no exception - we took my mother in law on the journey from Bowness to Ambleside and she loved it!

          The people who run the cruises are a company called Windermere Lake Cruises - I bet it didn't take too long to think of that name!

          The company runs cruises across the lake between Bowness, Ambleside (Waterhead) and Lakeside.

          Bowness is a pretty holiday town which is the 'heart' of the Lake District. It has all sorts of shops from the traditional Tesco, Boots, Co-op and clothes shops to shops selling souvenirs of every kind. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants here making it an interesting place to spend a couple of hours.

          Ambleside is a beautiful town full of interesting shops selling everything from books to bikes and walking equipment to souvenirs. Again there are plenty of cafes and restaurants here including a lovely little cafe to be found just off the main street at the side of the stream.

          Lakeside is at the southern end of the lake is the home of the award-winning freshwater Lakes Aquarium and the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway, although I can' comment on either of these as we haven't visited them yet.

          There is a selection of tickets available and all prices quoted are valid until November 2009 - they include:

          24 Freedom of the Lake

          This is exactly what it says in that it is a ticket for any journey as often as you like for a period of 24 hours. The price is £16 for adults and £8 for children between the ages of 5 - 15.

          Three Day Freedom Ticket

          This is exactly the same as the 24 Freedom ticket except that it lasts for 3 days from the time of purchase. The price is £32 for adults and £16 for children between the ages of 5 - 15.

          Red Cruise

          This is the journey from Bowness to Ambleside or vice versa. The price is £8.90 for adults and £5 for children between the ages of 5 - 15.

          Yellow Cruise

          This is the journey from Bowness to Lakeside or vice versa. The price is £9.20 for adults and £5.20 for children between the ages of 5 - 15.

          Blue Cruise

          This is the Island Cruise from Bowness out into the lake and round some of the many islands. The price is £6.60 for adults and £3.30 for children between the ages of 5 - 15.

          Green Cruise (Brockhole)

          This is a 45 minute cruise from Waterhead, which is the Ambleside stop at the northern end of the lake to Brockhole where you will find the World of Beatrix Potter Exhibition. The price is £6.60 for adults and £3.30 for children between the ages of 5 - 15.

          Walkers' Ticket

          This one is a single ticket which either starts or finishes in Bowness or Ambleside. The price is £8 for adults and £4.50 for children between the ages of 5 - 15.

          There are a variety of cruising vessels which are used for the daytime cruises as detailed above and also for a variety of evening outings including dancing with dinner, a buffet, silver service or a barbeque.

          Dancing is available to a band, a disco or music played through an IPod and a casino can also be provided if required.

          The vessels range from large white cruisers catering for 100 to 180 passengers for private charter through smaller vessels catering for 50 or 80 people to the smallest boats in the fleet which are the traditional wooden launches which can cater for up to 25 for a champagne reception . Most of the vessels have a lower deck with a licensed bar, a middle deck with seating and an upper deck where the dancing usually takes place.

          The journey that we usually take is from Bowness, where we stay, to Ambleside and back. As I said earlier the actual stop for Ambleside is Waterhead where we disembark and walk up the road to Ambleside - a walk of about half a mile, which is pleasant enough in decent weather.

          The journey itself is lovely - the views are nothing short of amazing across the lake to the mountains and hills beyond. The driver (is that what you would call him?) of the boat points out any landmarks as we go along, which makes the whole journey really interesting. We sit on the top deck in the sunshine of the weather is nice and if it is a bit miserable we sit inside on the middle deck where there is a bar selling tea, coffee, soft drinks, biscuits and sweets. There is another deck below where you will find the bar selling alcoholic drinks and also the toilets.

          We always go on at least one Lake Cruise when we stay at Bowness and it makes a lovely day out for us and gives Dave a break from driving for the day. It also gives us a bit of exercise to combat all the nice food we eat whilst we are holidaying in the Lake District!


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