Edward Elgar wrote some beautiful music – well the Edward Elgar river cruise boat owned by English Holiday Cruises also makes ‘sweet music’ as you glide slowly along the River Severn.
We joined the cruise on the busy Alexandra Quay of Gloucester docks. If you have done river cruises before this will not be what you expect but please go with the flow (sorry about the pun)! The Edward Elgar does not glisten and glow like the bigger European Cruise boats – it hums with comfort and a quintessential atmosphere. You are assured of a very warm welcome by the staff and the captain who help you on board with your luggage and show you around this beautiful, perfectly formed boat.
If you are driving to Gloucester then the company will give you details of where to park on the Docks, close to the ship’s mooring.
Richard Clements, the owner, greeted us and showed us around this unique boat. Richard and his wife Judith started this company and now leave the main running to their son Jay. This family-run firm are ‘hands on’ and keep the boat in tip top condition, improving every year. New central heating and showers have recently been installed and more improvements are planned.
English Holiday Cruises offers a variety of trips up and down the River Severn. A Unique Weekend Break Cruise, a Historic Canal Cruise, a River Severn Heritage Cruise, a Cruise to the Views, Heart of England Cruise and the longest cruise the Seven Wonders of the Severn Cruise. I am sure that one of these wonderful trips will give you as much pleasure as it gave me.
The air-conditioned cabins are cosy and have two comfortable beds, updated showers, wash basin and toilet. The cruise is very relaxed and no formal dressing is needed. The cabin does have a small wardrobe facility and space under the bed for the cases. Depending on the weather forecast, a suggestion would be take warm waterproof jacket and non-slip shoes, but saying that the weather we had was good and shorts were the order of the day; but being England, a jumper around your shoulders, just in case the weather does turn cool, is a good idea.
It isn’t a boat for those with limited mobility, as you do need to be able to get up and down stairs to the cabins and upstairs to the deck area unaided and there isn’t a toilet in the lounge area, so you need to use the one in your cabin. The stairs and gang plank are not too difficult to negotiate and the age group of our fellow guests ranged from 64 to 101; yes one of the guests was 101, very spritely full of fun. One fold up wheelchair is allowed on board per trip but speak to the staff before you book to check this out. Single occupancy is available but at a premium so contact English Holiday Cruises for information.
The Edward Elgar cruise boat is the only boat that sails the waterways of England. You will find other companies in Scotland on the major rivers but the Edward Elgar is unique to English Waterways. The boat does attract lots of attention and as you glide along, people on houseboats and motor cruisers take pictures and wave. If you are lucky and get good weather then the birdlife and nature is a plus on this boat. Kingfishers, herons, and ducks adorn the banks of the river and in Worcester the swans are the kings and queens and make a beautiful sight as you glide to the mooring area.
This 4-star hotel boat has a spacious saloon with comfortable chairs and good seating arrangements for guest dining. There is a small social bar area that seats 10 people for your pre or after dinner drinks. The all-inclusive food is excellent. Breakfast is served at approximately 8.30am and includes cereals, fresh fruit salad, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and hash browns, juice, tea and coffee, toast and preserves.
A lighter lunch is served with free wine, then tea and delicious cake in the afternoon followed by a sumptuous evening meal of prawn cocktail with a twist, apricot stuffed pork belly slow cooked in cider, cream and chives, with fresh vegetables. Summer berry fruit terrine, cheese and biscuits and tea or coffee. Served with wine by your waiter, excellent! If you have any dietary requirements let the company know when you book.
Like-minded people meet on this cruise in a friendly, informal atmosphere. There are only 22 passengers so it is quite easy to get to know your fellow passengers quickly. Entertainment is provided on two evenings per week and on other evenings, a quiz or just lots of talking and laughing can be heard. Each day – weather permitting on the top deck, where cushioned seating is provided – a quoits competition is held, and if you say ”I have never played that before” – well give it a try; it is only throwing a rope circle into a square and a lovely way to meet your fellow guests. Many people on board say they have been on ocean and river cruises but have never been on one as friendly as the Edward Elgar.
The five staff including the captain added to the pleasure. Our captain, Steve was also Mr Personality, and he had us laughing and knew all our names by the second day! The chef works miracles in his small galley and produces some excellent meals. The other three staff work in harmony with one another and the boat operates very smoothly indeed.
Our trip took us from Gloucester to Tewkesbury where we moored overnight – there is no night sailing. Onward to Worcester the next day and a visit to Worcester Cathedral is organised for you, with tickets provided in the cost of the holiday for entrance to the cathedral and the Worcester Porcelain Museum. An overnight stop in Worcester then onward to Stourport where a coach is waiting for you to take you to Bewdley for an excursion on the Severn Valley railway to Bridgnorth, then back to Stourport in time for dinner.
The boat then returns via Upton-on-Severn with a guided tour of the Tudor House Museum, and back to the boat for cocktails followed by dinner. On the Friday, the last day of our trip, we went to Tewkesbury and a boat trip excursion was arranged to sail on the River Avon, then a coach to nearby Tewkesbury Abbey, and back to the boat for dinner and live entertainment. The trip is so well thought out, visits and time to relax were paramount and the attention to detail was exceptional.
Many of the guests are retired and want to have an English holiday with a difference. Forget the stress of the airports or cruise terminals; just drive to Gloucester then sit back and relax. Also the boat doesn’t have a TV so you can just enjoy peace and tranquility without knowing what’s happening in the outside world. Bliss! However, you can get WiFi on board so mobiles and tablets can be used.
This trip was special, unique and a delight. If you want a ‘get away from it all’ break in a lovely part of England then this is the trip for you.
Elgar wrote Pomp and Circumstance but this boat took his music to a higher level. If you want to see the delights of England from the river, then step on board the Edward Elgar.