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Boating on the Norfolk Broads with Richardsons
Richardson's Boating Holidays
Member Name: julwhite
Richardson's Boating Holidays
Advantages: Well presented boat, professional company, great holiday
Disadvantages: Handover at reception was unprofessional
This review is for a Richardson's boating holiday that I took on the Norfolk Broads in July 2009. I live locally but had never experienced boating on the Broads, so I thought it was something that I should try. Myself and five others ventured into boating, unaware of whether we would enjoy the adventure or just get bored of boating after a few hours!
I booked directly with Richardsons, which is something you should be careful of, as you can book the same boat from companies such as Hoseasons, but they are generally more expensive. If you can, try to book direct with Richardsons, who own the boats themselves, so should be able to give you the best deal.
Price wise, boating isn't the cheapest holiday, but between six people the boat came to a total of around 800 pounds including the diesel charges. If you go at quieter periods, the boat is much cheaper, so next time, I'd definitely return at a cheaper time of the year. It would also make for a quieter time on the Broads, which fewer boats.
The weakest part of the service was actually at handover at Richardsons. The staff member was not the most cheery and quite deceitfully offered a map as if it was free, and then added three pounds to the bill. Such underhand tactics demean the Richardsons brand, and were entirely unnecessary for the sake of a few pounds.
However, the boat itself was well presented and in good condition. Quite a new boat, everything was as expected, and there was an introduction to boating by one of the staff, who took us out for around 30 minutes, showing us how the boat worked. He was polite and helpful, and this was a very useful introduction.
On the boat, there are a range of features, domestically there is a fridge freezer, microwave, oven, kettle, television, radio, CD player, cutlery and so on. We also had a boat which was well equipped technically, with bow thrusters which helped turning, and all in all, the boat was generally very impressive. Although they had told us to bring our own, towels were provided, as was bedding.
We explored the Broads for three days, which was fascinating. The Broads are man made, although not deliberately, when peat was dug out to provide heating many centuries ago. Rivers then linked up the network, which is now in two parts, the Northern Broads and the Southern Broads. Although known as the Norfolk Broads, much of the Broads network is in Suffolk.
If you want to explore Norwich, Beccles and other elements of the southern broads, you would need to really take a week if you take your boat from Richardsons, who have boat stations at Stalham (where we got our boat from) and Acle. On our holiday however, we stayed on the Northern Broads.
In our three days, we explored Wroxham, Potter Heigham, Ludham, Stalham, Neatishead and got as far as Great Yarmouth. You need to be careful what boat size you get, as some larger boats cannot fit under Potter Heigham and Wroxham Bridges. Although our boat did in theory fit, the tide was quite high, so we couldn't get through these bridges.
At both Potter Heigham and Wroxham, you need to use the piloting service to get through, which is around ten pounds return. This is where a professional pilot gest your boat through the bridge, without causing any damage to the boat or the bridge. The pilot makes the judgment about whether your boat is likely to fit through - but be aware, if you get through, you do have to come back, so work out the times of the tides carefully.
The return of the boat was smooth and easy. We received a small sum back for unused diesel, and we had used a lot, so you are likely to get a refund of sorts, depending whether you pay 75 pounds or 100 pounds deposit. You give your life jackets back (the guy was very helpful both giving these and getting them back and the cost of these is included in the price. You should really wear these, but most people on the Broads didn't.
Overall, a good holiday and a professional company. Shame about the handover, but this was a minor point on a very good holiday.
Summary: Good company, good holiday, will be back!