York Self Drive Boats



Booking Information: Please note, when making a booking using the widget above, only select the number of boats that you require, not the number of people who are in your group. Thank you.


Take the helm on board your own self drive motor boat! Book a morning hire in advance at the “Early Bird Special” price.

Why not try your hand at skippering your own boat by hiring one of our fleet of Self-Drive motor boats?! They are fantastic fun, safe and easy to drive.

Enjoy a leisurely half hour or maximum one-hour hire, exploring York from the helm of your own self-drive motorboat. Become a captain and explore the sites of York’s riverside in style!

We have fourteen Red Boats in total. Their names are Josephine, Angie, Leonie, Sarah, Yvette, Kathryn, Alice-May, Lucy, Tina, Heather, Ellen, Rebecca, Emma and Penny!

They can accommodate up to 6 people (in line with current UK Givernment guidance) and so provide plenty of room for you all to head out on your own aquatic adventure, exploring the same river that brought the Vikings to our beautiful city.

You will receive full instructions on how to operate your motor boat along with our safety and river rules, whilst life jackets will be provided for any children.

Your ticket includes

  • Hire your own self drive boat for up to 1 hour (max. 6 passengers per boat)


​Hygiene and social distancing measures:

  • All Self Drive staff will be provided with a supply of single use nitrile gloves, face masks or coverings, and a face shield.
  • All Self Drive boats will be cleaned prior to and after each hire.
  • Pre-booking is encouraged for all hires, as is contactless payment for the security bond.
  • The number of people permitted on the pontoon will be limited to assist with social distancing.
  • Social distancing will also be in effect whilst queueing.

Boat Hire Details

Available to hire daily

3rd July - 1st November 2020

Opening and Closing Times

Our Self Drive Boats are available to hire from 9:45AM on the above dates.

The earliest closing time is 3pm under normal circumstances, although this may be earlier when determined by factors such as bad weather or rising river levels. Call our sales office for more details.

Hire Point

The Self Drive Hire Point is at King's Staith, next to Tower Gardens, York YO1 9RZ.
What3words location: ///sizes.backed.composers

Hire Price

Online Price From
1hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max. 6 Passengers)
10:00 a.m. - 12 Noon - £40.00
1hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max. 6 Passengers)
12:15pm to 4pm - £45 per hour

Quayside Prices
1hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max. 6 Passengers)
from £30 - £50
1/2hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max. 6 passengers)
from £20 - £40

Hire Duration
One hour hires only can be pre-booked online (see below for details).

If hiring in person at the quayside, half hour hires will always be available. One hour hires will also be available in person at the quayside, unless in periods of high demand, when half hour hires only will be available.

An early-bird special price is available between 9:45 a.m. and 12 noon every day.

Morning Pre-Booking:

Pre-booking is available for our Self-Drive boats on a morning from 09:45 a.m. to 12 Noon at the Early Bird price (must be pre-booked at least 2 hours before).

Afternoon Pre-Booking:

Pre-booking for afternoon hires is availble online from 12:15 p.m. and up to 4:00 p.m. on selected dates (not all of the fleet are available for pre-booking during peak times, but if there is no availability showing you can still arrange a hire in person at the quayside).

When pre-booking, you are required to arrive at the Self Drive Boat Hire Point 15 minutes before the time of hire to allow time for the rules of the river, area of operation and boat handling instructions to be explained. Should you arrive late then you will lose your booking.

Walk Up Hires:

If you would like to hire a self drive boat and have not pre-booked online, you can still do so at the quayside subject to availability. If there is a boat available you should be able to take it straight out on the water. If they are all hired when you arrive then you should be able to make a reservation and pay up front with the team, provided you meet the terms and conditions of hire.

Security Bonds

A minimum, returnable security bond of £40 is required for all hires. The security must be paid in full by either card (preferrable) or cash upon arrival at the landing. If paying the security bond by card, the refund will usually be cleared by the 3rd working day in your bank account.

Part or all of the deposit will be retained if:

  • The boat is more than 10 minutes late returning to the landing (unless the hirer can satisfy the Self Drive Staff that there is a valid reason).
  • The boat is excessively dirty and requires more than 5 minutes cleaning.
  • The boat is damaged in any way.

(Please note that City Cruises York reserve the right to refuse single sex groups/hen and stag parties)

Please note that failure to follow the rules of the river, failure to respect your fellow river
users, and general unruly behaviour could result in an early termination of your hire and
you forfeiting your security bond. We thank you for your anticipated cooperation and hope
that you enjoy your hire.

Where can we go? 

Our Self Drive Boat operating area is the same as the route for our York City cruises, so with a one hour hire you will be able to take in the whole city from the river. On a half hour hire you can operate within this area and will be able to take in most of the built up section of the Ouse, or make your way down stream to the Millennium Bridge and back to our moorings again.

Please note that the Self Drive Boats cannot be taken past Clifton Bridge or the Millennium Bridge. You are not allowed to moor the boat up and disembark at any point on the river other than at our Self Drive Boat Hire Point at King’s Staith.

Can anybody hire them?

The person hiring the Self Drive Boat must be at least 18 years old (25 years old on selected dates) and be able to provide a valid means of ID. People under the influence of alcohol are not permitted on board and no alcohol is to be taken on board. You are more than welcome to bring a picnic and soft drinks along with you to enjoy on board.

If you have any questions about our Self-Drive Red Boats, then you are welcome to call our Sales Office on 01904 628324. However, we hope that you will be able to find the answers here in our FAQs.

Conditions of Hire

The hirer MUST be aged 18 years or over (aged 25 years or over on selected dates), you may be asked to provide ID.

The hirer MUST NOT be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Maximum of 6 people per boat.

All children under the age of 10 MUST wear a lifejacket.

The hirer MUST read and abide by the RULES OF THE RIVER, which are displayed on board.

The hourly charge and security deposit MUST be paid in full by card (preferrable) or cash before the boat is let.

City Cruises York (operators of Self Drive Boats) reserve the right to refuse to hire a Self Drive Boat to anyone deemed likely to breach the terms of hire. All male or all female parties may be refused hire.

The hire will be terminated if customer behaviour is seen to be/reported to be unacceptable.