We wanted to do something different, something unique and something local. When I heard about Lakeway Houseboat Vacations I thrilled to find out that something like this is in New Brunswick. Floating down the Saint John river on an RV?! We were onboard with the idea of spending a weekend with Lakeway Houseboat Vacations instantly
I mentioned the idea to one of my besties last summer and we set the planning in motion. After all gathering up a group of people to spend the weekend on a houseboat always takes some coordination with everyone’s busy schedules. That said, we were able to find a crew quite easily!
We ended up having a fantastic weekend and experienced all kinds of weather so I think we really had a full experience even though it was only three days. The first day it rained, the second day was sunny and beautiful and the third day was sunny but extremely windy. We thought that being on board in the rain would be terrible, but it wasn’t bad at all actually. The BBQ was under a canopy and it’s fun to be in a hot tub regardless of the weather, right?!
Having a great time, rain or shine!
One of the biggest considerations I think everyone needs to make before booking this type of trip is who you will go with. Keep in mind you are in relatively tight living quarters for the duration of your trip… this is the ideal time to spend with your easy going friends who can quite literally go with the flow. Oh, and someone needs to be the Captain so make sure at least one person in your group has their boating license! Fun fact: My brother and I both have a boating license.
Camping on Water
I don’t usually like camping, but camping on water is an entirely different experience. Other than bringing your bedding, towels and food with you it is as close to a hotel experience as you could hope for without boarding a cruise ship of some kind. Everything you need is on the boat, in fact we were worried about what to bring, what not to bring and we shouldn’t have been worried at all! At the end of this post I have included a packing list for you to make your life as easy as possible and so you don’t have the same questions as we had when you are planning your houseboat vacation.
And, since pictures are great but a full tour is even better I did a video tour of our boat so you can have a quick watch and see exactly what to expect on your houseboat, the layout, etc.
Consideration... We were on a 14 person boat, which in my opinion would be perfect for 10 people. Everyone would have a bedroom (2 per bedroom) in that case and you wouldn’t have to use the main living area for sleeping. That said, if the extra 4 people were kids, having them sleep in the main areas wouldn’t be a big deal at all.
What To Expect
Preparing for this weekend getaway was different than most I have experienced in the past… keep in mind I am not much a camper (I know I already said that, but it’s the truth and worth mentioning twice, haha) and typically vacation in cities (staying in hotels) or visiting family/friends (and staying with them).
When you decide to go on a houseboat vacation you really should have someone in your crew that is willing to do some planning, whether it be to map out how far you want to go, meal plan for the duration of the trip or to scout out activities you might want to take part in along the river system. We made a pretty basic meal plan and then agreed to meet at Costco followed by a visit to Atlantic Superstore before boarding. It worked out very well and I would highly recommend the fresh bagels, pre-made salads and ribs from Costco. We also stocked up on cheese and crackers/candy/water etc. from Atlantic Superstore since they have great varieties, especially in the relatively new PC Insiders Collection.
We had no idea what to expect while on board and since we are all pretty “on-the-go” type people we brought way more stuff to entertain ourselves than we really needed. We packed board games, colouring books, magazines, books, nail polish, dvds and more. In the end I did use the nail polish to paint my toes since I had the opportunity to do so without Little Dude next to me trying to help and the girls did some colouring while we sailed early Saturday morning just to stay out of the wind for a bit. If you are going on the houseboat for a week I would definitely bring these items to add some variety to your days in case of rain or high winds.
Colouring on the approach to the Nackawic dock
Before leaving we had looked up the map on the Lakeway Houseboats Vacations website where they list different area you can go to and recommended locations to tie up ashore. From the map we had determined we would do our best to go to Nackawic since it has a grocery store, liquor store, the world’s largest axe and Big Axe Brewery. Nackawic also has a dock designed especially for the houseboats so “parking” is not an issue and all amenities (except for the brewery) are only a few minutes walk from the dock.
Nackawic / World’s Largest Axe
When we arrived at the Mactaquac Marina, we were greeted by Steve and Larry who directed us to where we should park to unload our stuff onto the boat, which boat was ours and then where we should park our vehicles while out on the water. They went through a safety briefing with our entire crew, went through the Captain’s manual, gave us instructions on how to tie up and made suggestions of where we should consider “parking” for the night, etc. Every suggestion they had was 100% bang on, so listen to them! They really are the experts! The briefing is good, but also a little overwhelming since they are so comfortable with driving these huge water-going RV’s; don’t be nervous though, the boat is bit intimidating, but not bad to “drive/park” once you get the hang of it.
Larry providing Captain K with a briefing
Things to do ashore
If you are going on a weekend trip you really won’t need shore activities to keep you busy unless you are like us and want to experience as much as possible in three days… I mentioned earlier that we went to Nackawic, we were actually the first houseboat of the season to visit and be greeted by Gus at the Independent Grocery store before we did a bit of shopping and took pictures by the big axe.
If I were going again and would be on board for even 3-4 days I would plan to do TreeGo! They have a place you can tie up the boat called “TreeGo” on the map and is only a few minutes walking to the TreeGo area. We didn’t do it this time, but Laura and her family from My Life in the Sun had a chance to do the activity during their visit to New Brunswick last summer – you can read about their experienceto get an idea if this is something you would like to try during your houseboat vacation.
Our Captain sailed the boat with ease which made our lives really easy! As the most important person on the boat (because really, we couldn’t go anywhere without him!) I thought I would give you his top 5 comments to help with your houseboat vacation planning:
There is a fireplace but no air conditioner – if you don’t like the heat, going earlier in the spring or later in the summer would be ideal to take advantage of cooler evenings! We were pleasantly surprised to find fans in all of the bedrooms however!
Having GPS on your phone is key – the maps were ok but since it was the first time we sailed that waterway it was sometimes tricky to determine where exactly we were.
Sleeping/parking for the night in Jewett’s Cove is a fabulous choice. It is very secluded, easy to navigate and the trees were easy to tie up to. The downside (for the instagrammer’s on board) was that there wasn’t great service in that area.
The signage on the trees are sometimes hard to see… basically look for white markings.
You are camping, but it’s private, on water and you have a hot tub all to yourself! It doesn’t get much better!
Day Break in Jewett’s Cove – Photo Taken by Captain K
What does it cost?
All of the rates for the various boats and various lengths of time are available on the Lakeway Houseboat Vacations website. I have to admit that when I first saw the prices I had a bit of sticker shock until I really started to think about it and broke down the cost per person per day. I would really suggest doing the breakdown to get a better idea of what it will cost each person or each couple – keep in mind you are not paying for everything yourself!
Other costs that we incurred were of course our travel to/from Mactaquac, NB, groceries for the weekend (it cost us under $300 for 5 people…and we ate well!), beverages (it cost the Mr. and I $75 for beer, wine, etc.) and gas for the boat (it cost each of us $40, but you should consider that we drove for 3 hours Friday evening, 9 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday).