York Self Drive Boats

Service Update: We are currently planning on re-opening on the 4th of July 2020. Our health and safety teams are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that when we are able to re-open, we do so with new health and safety measures in place.

If you have a booking with us due to sail before the 4th of July, or have a question regarding the new health and safety measures we will be putting in place, please click here.

Alternatively please contact us by email on infoyork@citycruises.com


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

Why not try your hand at skippering your own boat by hiring one of our fleet of Self-Drive Red 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 8 people 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. 8 passengers per boat)

Book Self-Drive Boat Ticket

Please complete all fields. In the last field select the number of boats that you would like to hire.


Boat Hire Details

Weekends Only
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th February 2020

Available to hire daily

Friday 14th February - Sunday 1st November 2020

Opening and Closing Times

Red Boats are available to hire from 9:45AM on the above dates.

The earliest closing 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.
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Hire Price

Online Price From
1hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max.8 Passengers) Monday - Friday (excluding school holidays)
10:00 a.m. - 12 Noon - £30.00 / 12:01 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - £35.00
1hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max.8 Passengers) Weekends, Bank holiday, School holidays
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - £35.00

Quayside Prices
1hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max. 8 Passengers)
from £30 - £50
1/2hr Self-Drive Boat Hire (max. 8 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 Self-Drive Red Boats on a morning from 09:45 a.m. to 12 Noon at the Early Bird price (must be pre-booked by 8:00 a.m. on the day of travel).

Afternoon Pre-Booking:

Pre-booking for afternoon hires is availble online between 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. (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 Red 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.

On the Day:

If you would like to hire a red boat you can still do so at the quayside. 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.


A minimum, returnable cash security bond of £40 is required for all hires. The security must be paid in full cash by cash upon arrival at the landing. 

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 Red Boat 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 Red 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 Red 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 Red Boat Hire Point at King’s Staith.

Can anybody hire them?

The person hiring the Red 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 8 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 cash before the boat is let.

City Cruises York (operators of RedBoat) reserve the right to refuse to hire a Red 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.