Christmas magic on the Broads

Ho, Ho, Ho. It’s a magical time of year on the Broads.

Santa has been delighting hundreds of children on board the Broads Tours Santa Cruise that has been setting sail since 3 December and has proved more popular than ever this year. In total more than 2,000 children and grown-ups have bought tickets to join the fun!

Our paddle boat, The Vintage Broadsman, has been transformed into a fabulous, festive grotto for an hour long trip to Wroxham Broad and back.

Santa has made us promise to keep the exact details of what happens on board ship a secret but, rumour has it, that Santa’s pixies have been serving mice pies and mulled wine to the grown-ups and a festive cookie to the kids. There are also some great prizes to be won for colouring and drawing competitions.

All the children must have been very well behaved this year as Santa, who was recently spotted circling over Wroxham Broad, has been making flying visits on his sleigh to bring each child a lovely present.

The Santa Cruise has run for the last two weekends at 11am, 1pm and 3pm and will run on these times on Sat 17, Sun 18, Mon 19, Tue 20, Wed 21, Thurs 22 Fri 23rd December and Christmas Eve.

Due to huge demand The Santa Cruises are virtually booked out, The Christmas Eve Trip sold out in August – but there may be a select few dates available for small groups. Tickets cost £12 each for both adults and children. Call us for details on 01603 782 207.

Vintage Broadsman photos take by Mr Boyce staying in Apartment 6

Cordon Rouge lifted out

With the main boating season winding down itís that time of year we lay down our skippers shirts, don our overalls and pick up a paint brush. Our fleet of trip and day boats all need to be maintained and ñ as these pictures show – we have just craned out our popular trip boat, the Cordon Rouge. We will be working on it until Christmas to ensure that itís spick and span for next season.

We plan to replace the port (left) side propeller shaft and repaint the top, front and back deck. We will also be cleaning the hull and painting it with a special paint called antifouling that prevents weeds growing on the bottom of the boat.

We will update you on other work being carried out throughout the winter season.

Broads Tours Movember effort

It has come to that time of year when our summer work comes to an end and winter looms. For our staff it means a change from shorts and sunnies to overalls and paint brushes. For many of our gentlemen winter hibernation ensues and facial hair seems to grow through a desire to keep warm and a general aversion to shaving, or in some cases, washing.

However, this year, a motley selection of the team have decided to change a life time habit and shave on the 1st November in the name of raising awareness of menís health issues. Here you can see how they look at the moment, and weíll keep you up to date on how well their moustaches develop through Movember.


There may even be a few twists taking place as well!

Craig - Norfolk Broads Direct Engineer

Craig – Norfolk Broads Direct Engineer

Giles - Norfolk Broads Direct Yard Hand

Giles – Norfolk Broads Direct Yard Hand

James - Broads Tours Skipper

James – Broads Tours Skipper

Joe - Broads Tours Day Boat Operative

Joe – Broads Tours Day Boat Operative

Neil - Norfolk Broads Direct Yard Hand

Neil – Norfolk Broads Direct Yard Hand

Tobi - Broads Tours Skipper

Tobi – Broads Tours Skipper

Tom - Broads Tours Skipper

Tom – Broads Tours Skipper

Broads Tours is centre stage

Broads Tours became centre stage last Wednesday as BBC Radio Norfolk celebrated our fantastic National Park. The Nick Conrad Breakfast Show was broadcast live from the waterside at Broads Tours from 6-10am – showcasing everything our Magical Waterland has to offer as part of BBC Radio Norfolk’s Broads Week.

As well as celebrating the special wildlife and boating in the area the show interviewed a wide range of figures involved in the industry. This ranged from Broads Authority CEO, John Packman, and Broads Tours owner, Barbara Greasley, to Adrian Cook the Salhouse Ice Cream Boat Man and Broads Tours Skipper, Oliver Franzen.

Discussing the show Barbara Greasley said: “I was contacted by the Nick Conrad Breakfast show, who were looking for a busy place on the Broads to broadcast from, and I said they we would be delighted to host them. Aside from being a good excuse to eat pastries at 6am in the morning the show really helped to highlight how much the Broads has to offer.”

“The Broads is in the best environmental condition in years, holding 25% of all of Britain’s rarest species, and a growing number of people are coming to enjoy this. Our boats are also becoming increasingly comfortable and customers can really enjoy some five star treatment.”

The whole of BBC Radio Norfolkís Broads Week was very positive for the industry and encouraged local people to sample what’s on their doorstep as well as tempting people from further afield to join us too.

Far flung visitors return to the Cordon Rouge

A family of swallows have completed their annual migration to nest close to our boat yard. They regularly perch on top of our trip boat, Cordon Rouge, where they feed their young fledglings. The swallows return to the Cordon Rouge each year but were a little later this time around so we were beginning to worry about them! We watched the adults bringing small insects to the juveniles as they sat patiently on the Rouge’s mast lights.

Another beautiful, fast flying bird, the Kingfisher, has been occasionally spotted by skipper Richard on the river around Salhouse Broad. This is good news as these electric blue birds seem to be showing up a little less often than in previous years.

Skipper Oli and his passengers had a fantastic sight of an otter when it swam across the entrance of Wroxham Broad as they turned into the broad. Otters were once highly endangered on the Broads but are now making a real comeback, with their territories spreading all over the Broads. We even have an otter hunting in our boat basin in the middle of Wroxham (see previous blogs for pictures and videos of this)!

One of the benefits of otters being highly territorial is that they drive out mink. These species were released from fur farms by animal rights activists and cause real environmental damage. Although there have been many attempts to reduce their numbers over the years through trapping this has only had limited success – but the otters seem to be doing a far more effective job.

Despite all this one of our skippers, Tom, saw a mink on a boat trip on Woodbastwick reach and skipper Oli also spotted them in Wroxham village.

A new swan family with just one very cute cygnet has been seen for the first time on the river around Salhouse Little Broad. It’s much smaller and fluffier than the cygnets in our other swan families, which were born earlier in the year and are all doing well, with the older ones gaining more independence and exploring further, leaving their parents behind on occasions.

We believe that the single cygnet hatched around two weeks ago on Salhouse Little Broad (a private, secluded broad that is closed off from navigation) and is now venturing out onto the river for the first time.

The family of Coots that we reported hatched a few weeks ago on Salhouse Broad are also starting to grow up and venture further afield, across the broad and even onto the river.

One of the pluckiest little Mallard ducklings we have seen was on Ranworth Broad (accessible by day boat).

While being fed by tourists the duckling’s mother kept trying to steal the food first! Undeterred by such bad parenting the duckling kept beating the mother duck to the food. A large Drake (male duck) then moved in for the food and despite the massive size difference the brave little duckling chased off the big Drake!

We are regularly spotting a controversial bird, the Cormorant, fishing on both Wroxham and Salhouse Broad. The Cormorant is coastline bird, which is coming inland as the fish in the North Sea become depleted, and fishing is easier in the calmer inland waterways. Popular with some as a protected species, they are not as popular with fisherman as they are greedy birds and tend to eat more than their fill of fish!

On Hoveton Great Broad – a beautiful and remote nature reserve that we pass on all of our boat trips – skipper Tobi spotted two very special insects – The Norfolk Hawker Dragonfly and Swallowtail butterfly whilst taking a school group out on a Discovery Trip.

The Norfolk Hawker dragonfly is a very rare and imposing species, with clear wings, green eyes and characteristic yellow triangle shape on the dragonfly’s body. As the name suggests Norfolk is this large dragonfly’s stronghold and a species we are very proud of.

The Swallowtail butterfly is Britain’s largest butterfly – with a wingspan of up to 90mm and a distinctive forked tail like a swallow. These beautiful creatures, which have been featured in previous blogs in more detail, are only found on the Broads.

We will finish the blog with a couple of cute close up shots of a Greylag gosling and Egyptian gosling taken by Oli at Ranworth Broad, but also featuring on our 1 ½ and 2 hours river trips.

Share your photos

If you have taken any wildlife pictures on our trips we would love to share them on this blog. Simply send them to or via Twitter @BroadsTours or Facebook by searching Broads Tours or Instagram norfolk_broads_direct