Celebrating another record season!

As winter approaches and we prepare for our ever-popular Santa Cruises, Broads Tours is celebrating its most successful year yet! A record number of people have enjoyed both our dayboat hire and river trips this year – with an incredible 75,000 passengers taking a river trip between April and September – a figure that continues to rise with our scheduled trips running throughout October and coach parties welcome at all times of year.

It’s also been a very interesting season –  having hosted many unusual events – and enjoyed magical and increasingly frequent encounters with otters and other wildlife.

Otters have made an amazing recovery after returning from virtual extinction on the Broads and we are seeing them on an almost daily basis this season.  This is probably helped by the fact that an otter family appear to have built their holt under Wroxham Bridge and are regularly spotted fishing in and around our boatyard.  The otters even moved into some of our boatshed last winter and marked their territory by leaving spraint on some of our ropes (yuk)!


It’s not just the otters that have delighted our customers and staff alike this year.  Other rare sightings from our boat trips and dayboats include Bitterns, Kingfishers, Little Egrets, Marsh Harriers, Mandarin ducks, Swallowtail Butterflies – which live nowhere else in the country – Norfolk Hawker Dragonflies and even a Bufflehead duck, which must have escaped from a private collection since they are only native to America!  See our nature blog for more information.

duck on norfolk broads

On a different note, we have hosted lots of equally colourful events on our trip boats. Some of this year’s private charter highlights included wine tasting, a wedding, where the bride and groom reached the Queen of the Broads by horse-drawn cart, and the annual water procession for hundreds of Pilipino Catholic pilgrims who decorated three of our trip boats with banners and balloons and carried a shrine to the Virgin Mary. The procession certainly surprised a few people along the river!


cordon rouge on broads


exciting river trips


broads tours river trips shrine

Our Wednesday disco boogie nights and Thursday jazz band evenings aboard the Vintage Broadsman proved more popular than ever this July and August.  In fact, due to popular demand, we will be holding our Boogie nights on alternate Fridays in 2018 in addition to the usual Wednesday evenings.  “The Boogie nights have built a great reputation for a fun and unique night out so they get booked up weeks ahead by local people.  By putting additional Boogie nights on Friday’s we hope to give holidaymakers more of chance to buy tickets at shorter notice,” explained Broads Tours director, Barbara Greasley.

Evening Music Cruises on the Broads

Throwing down the gauntlet for any creative suggestions for floating functions Barbara added: “We are currently planning our 2018 events.  If anyone has a great idea for a new event that we could hold on our boats we would love to hear from you!”.  Simply e-mail info@broads.co.uk or call 01603 782 207.

Preparations for this year’s Santa Cruises – which give hundreds of children the chance to meet Santa while out on a festive boat trip – are in full swing.  “We are already helping Santa to gather all of his presents for the cruises,” revealed Barbara. “Lots of people have already bought tickets for the cruises and we are delighted to hear that it’s usually by recommendation or because they came in previous years” added Barbara.   For more information and to buy tickets for the event, which is likely to sell out soon, Click here or call 01603 782 207.

In addition to the Santa Cruises and Mince Pie and Mulled Wine trips we will be embarking on an extensive maintenance programme on our boats this winter.  “Last winter we transformed the top deck of the Queen of the Broads trip boats with new flexible seating and a larger, easy access toilet.  We have a number of exciting ideas for how our resident team of skippers and boat builders would like to develop our other boats for next season – so watch this space!” said Barbara.

santa cruise river trip banner

All-in-all a very successful season – thank you for your support!

The Royal Norfolk Show 2017

We had a wonderful time at the 2017 Royal Norfolk Show, despite the rain!

It was great to see so many of you enjoying the show and coming to see us to say hello and find out more about Broads Tours. We were also very grateful to be awarded second prize for our stand! This award was judged by Norfolk Show officials and we were up against all of the other stands within the Tourism Village, the Broads area and the Discovery Zone. Big congrats to Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens who won first prize!

Thank you for taking the time to visit us and for all of the entries to our £100 Broads Tours voucher competition. The lucky winner has now been contacted.

If you haven’t been lucky this time, don’t forget we often run competitions and offers from our Facebook page and our sister company Norfolk Broads Direct’s Facebook Page – be sure to follow us for future updates.

There is still plenty of time available this season to enjoy the Norfolk Broads, so we hope to welcome you on-board soon.

Royal Norfolk Show 2017

Queen of the Broads Completes Makeover

The top deck of the Queen of the Broads has been given a royal transformation and customers are now enjoying an unrivalled visitor experience.

The outside seating area has smart new forward, rather than sideways, facing seats. These give a more engaging view of the river and avoid the need to share seating with other parties as often, as was the case with the large benches they replaced. The central passage between the seats has also been enlarged so that people can move up and down the boat more easily.

queen of the broads internal shot of seating

A real advantage for private functions is that the seating has been specially designed to slot in and out like Meccano, giving more flexibility in the lay out of the boat for charters.

queen of the broads passenger trip boat internal shot of seating

Completing the makeover, we now have smart new canopies and life rings.

Not to be outdone, the upstairs forward saloon boasts a contemporary new look, having been completely gutted and rebuilt. There is new wood panelling throughout, soft lining on the ceiling and white and coloured LED lights set the look off nicely.

queen of the broads internal shot of tables and stools

One of the things we are most proud of is that we have much increased the size of the upstairs toilet in the saloon ñ making it more accessible.

queen of the broads upstairs toilet

As you would expect, the boat has now been given a full lick of paint in Marine Blue.

tom crabb on board queen of the broads

Broads Tours skipper, Tom Crabb, who spent much of the winter spearheading the changes, said: “I feel extremely proud of what we have managed to achieve in the winter maintenance programme.

The Queen of the Broads is now much more comfortable for passengers and gives people a better all-round experience. We are particularly proud of the forward-facing seats which afford a great view of the Broads and its beautiful landscape.”

Broads Tours Director, Barbara Greasley, added: “Tom and his team have done an excellent job and the Queen of the Broads has never looked better!”

Why not join us for a scheduled boat trip or even charter the new-look Queen of the Broads. Contact 01603 782 207.

Before and after

The Queen of the Broads has seen quite a change in the last three months. These before and after pictures show what the Queen of the Broads saloon looked like on 22 February and how it looks now.

Saloon – facing forward
internal progress shot of works onboard queen of the broads with man using power tools
after shot of queen of the broads when work complete

Saloon – facing backward
saloon progress shot
saloon after shot when work complete

New easy access toilet
progress shot of bathroom
after shot of toilet when work complete

Pike fishing season comes to an exciting close – bring on June 16th

The coarse fishing season drew to an exciting close on Wednesday (15 March) leaving fisherman anticipating some more great sport when the new season opens on June 16th. The Broads is legendary for its pike fishing and the last few months have produced some great catches, with pike being caught to well over 20lbs in and around Wroxham.

One of our skippers and keen fisherman, Oliver Franzen, hired one of our day boats last Saturday and Sunday and took to the water to try his luck with only a few days left in the season.
As someone who has spent the last twenty five years obsessively pike fishing on the Broads, the last weekend of the fishing season is always a very special time for meÖ.Itís a last chance to try and catch that mystical whopper that could be just another cast away.

This year I had a bit of a treat because rather than being crammed into the usual small little rowing boat I borrowed a Broads Tours Day boat with enough room to stretch out, while still leaving plenty of space to fish from the stern of the boat with the canopy down.

Hopes were high on Saturday morning as I headed downriver with my girlfriend towards Belaugh (in the direction of Coltishall.) The weather was warm and dry and another fisherman had already caught a 19lb pike close to Wroxham Bridge!

The first bit of action came when I landed a small jack pike about three pounds on a floated smelt while moored up close to Belaugh church. I was excited to get off the mark but my girlfriend ñ with whom I was enjoying a strawberries and cream picnic at the time and had come to read magazines and sit in the sunshine – didnít look quite as pleased as me!

The best of the action was to come later in the day though, when I fished a tight bend and had a tremendous run on floating smelt. As soon as I struck the fish felt solid and gave me a superb fight for around 10 minutes, making long runs across the river and even tail-walking. By the time I had landed the pike my arm was aching and I was delighted to have banked probably my biggest fish of the season shown below.

man holding large pike in day boat

Only a few minutes after returning the first pike I had another run on smelt and by ironic contrast landed my smallest pike of the season ñ barely a pound ñ before having to return back to Broads Tours before dark.

The following day I headed out full of expectation with an old fishing pal. He almost immediately struck into a good pike in the entrance to Bridge Broad, upstream from Wroxham, but sadly it came off. That seemed to set the tone for the day because despite having quite a few runs we either struck into nothing or the pike dropped the bait before landing them.

It didnít spoil the day though as we were treated to some wonderful wildlife that came close to us while sitting quietly fishing. The kingfisher shown below perched on a branch near us, a water deer stealthily past on the opposite bank and marsh harriers and buzzards soared over head.

kingfisher sitting on branch

But the PiËce de rÈsistance came when an otter swam across the river right next to our moored boat. A fabulous sight ñ that nearly made up for loosing yet another pike a few minutes later!

Thanks to Broads Tours for a great weekend and Iím already looking forward to the next fishing season!

Queen of the Broads’ royal transformation

The project to transform the top deck of one of our most popular trip boats The Queen of the Broads ñ for the 2017 season is taking shape nicely.

Perhaps the first thing that our regular customers will notice when our trips start again in the spring is that we have changed the outside seating area to have forward, rather than sideways, facing seats as shown in the picture below. These will not only give a better view of the river and be more comfortable but they are lighter and more versatile as they CAN easily be slotted in and out.

internal shot of seating without pads

internal shot of seating without cushions

Last month we gutted the upstairs forward saloon to so that we could begin work giving it a fresh new look and expand the upstairs toilet to make it more accessible. As shown in this before and after picture we have now installed much of the wooden paneling on the walls and a new floor. Welding work has been carried on the roof and we have installed insulation and electrics into the ceiling, which we will be paneling soon. Mushroom vents have been installed to aid ventilation.

internal shot of man working on queen of the broads
Saloon from the 17th January

internal shot of man working on window frames of queen of the broads
The saloon now

We have started building the new larger toilet, which involved constructing a new bulk head (walls).

man working on internal toilet area of queen of the broads

As you would expect the boat has now been given a full lick of paint, in Marine Blue no less, and we hope to lift the boat out of the water next week so that we can begin the annual maintenance work on the hull, such as antifouling (a special paint that is applied below the waterline to stop weeds growing on the hull.)