Now you can cruise the Broads in style

It is a far cry from the traditional Broads boating holiday with its lingering memories of a noisy engine, cramped accommodation and conspicuous lack of mod cons.

It is a far cry from the traditional Broads boating holiday with its lingering memories of a noisy engine, cramped accommodation and conspicuous lack of mod cons.

Staff at Norfolk Broads Direct yesterday celebrated the end of the maiden cruise of its Fair Monarch - the first boat in the company's 164-strong hire fleet to boast a whirlpool bath alongside such increasingly standard goodies as a satellite television and PlayStation 2.

All eyes were on the sleek craft, which cost more than �120,000 to build, as she purred quietly into Wroxham with the Davies family, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on board.

Paul Davies, who runs a concreting business, said: “I remember coming on the Broads years ago with my mum and that boat really was old school. It did not even have a shower.

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“But as a family we like our luxuries. We took out a new boat, Fair Admiral, last year, but this is far better equipped. As soon as we get back we will inquire what they are planning to build for next year.”

His wife Cindy said: “We have all tried the whirlpool bath and the satellite television has been really useful.

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“While we have been able to keep up with Britain's Got Talent all week, and our son Perri, 17, watched the Champions League final, we have seen families on other boats waving aerials about to try to get reception.”

While Perri and sister Kiera, five, shared one cabin with en suite shower, their parents enjoyed what Perri described as “the hotel” the other end of the boat.

Mrs Davies said: “When we arrived at Norwich Yacht Station, one girl in a panic was asking whether there was a hairdryer in the showers. I was thinking I had my hair straighteners and everything all plugged in. There is even a heated towel rail.

“During the credit crunch, I am sure more people will be holidaying on the Broads, but they will expect the luxury they find in a hotel.”

Company director Reg Reeve, 66, personally has fond memories of the simple life on the Broads, but admits that craft like Fair Monarch are the future.

Mr Reeve, who started out as a boatbuilding apprentice in Horning, at the age of 15, recalled: “With the old toilets, everything ended up in the river. There were very heavy foam mattresses and no shower or fridge, just a cool box. However, things move on and customers are more demanding these days.”

Whereas the old wooden cruisers took as long as a year to build, craft like Fair Monarch could be on the water within 12 weeks.

Fellow director Barbara Greasley said: “These days, people really want a home from home. Despite the credit crunch, we can always sell our new boats. They are the first to let.”

Fair Monarch, costing up to �1,390 a week to hire, is already booked for the entire season, apart from a couple of slots, and Fair Monarch 2 is already under construction to join her later in the summer.

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