City Cruises, York – Review

city cruises york review boat trip

By Roger Crow

It’s more than a decade since I’ve taken a cruise round York, but when City Cruises offer me the chance, I think it’ll be the perfect way to shake up another generic Saturday.

The just-past-noon departure from Lendal Bridge is not without incident. We have an unannounced 21-gun salute, the first of which makes me jump out of my skin. Thankfully the skipper soon puts us at our ease (on the Ouse). Turns out it’s in honour of the queen’s birthday and not marking our departure.

city cruises york review boat trip bridge

“Reminds me why York is one of my favourite cities”

When my pulse rate returns to normal we set off. The slate-grey skies have given us a generous downpour all morning, but thankfully we have an undercover cruise on the top deck. Not that we need it. The lazy trip down (or is it up?) river thankfully proves rain-free.

After a week of full-on work and a typically busy drive into York on a Saturday, it’s good to have an hour of serenity as the skipper gives us a guided tour of the city’s beloved waterway.

Not that I can hear much. A party to my right chat and laugh so loud for the duration, it’s hard to hear a word, so I head downstairs for a coffee. There’s no shortage of drinks in the bar/cafe area.  A regular coffee costs £1.60, and sitting downstairs on comfier seats and a decent chance to hear the witty commentary is much better.

city cruises york review boat trip ouse

“Not all trips have to be edge-of-the-seat experiences”

Of course there’s far more than coffee on offer. Ade, the second-in-command, tells me they can also accommodate barbecues (on the top deck, naturally).

It’s exactly the hour’s break I need after a packed week. Sailing down/up river, watching the local yacht club training or families messing about in the company’s self-drive red boats reminds me why York is one of my favourite cities.

Of course most of the time I only see it on foot or by car, so this gives me a reminder of how the place was built. The stone for one of the city’s major insurance offices was transported by river for example. And when The King’s Arms floods every few years, it’s a reminder of how powerful the Ouse can be when unleashed.

city cruises york review boat trip sunset

The hour flies by and towards the end there’s a yearning for more river, or to do the whole thing again. Next time I’ll try the Afternoon Tea cruise. That sails on selected Tuesdays and Wednesdays in May, June, July and September. A two-hour trip, it features sandwiches; fruit scone with preserve; cream and finger desserts served with tea and coffee. That sails from the King’s Staith Landing only.

I’m sorry to leave our vessel, the Captain James Cook. It was a likeable 60-minute excursion that reminds me not all trips have to be full-on, edge-of-the-seat experiences.

Life in second gear rather than sixth can float my boat just as successfully.

City Cruises York Afternoon Tea cruise is £24 per adult and £12 per child. For more information and to book visit or call 01904 62834


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