boating on a licence-free cruiser

Whether you are a professional navigator or a complete beginner, no worries you will always be able to cruise with Carrickcraft! 

no experience necessary

No experience Necessary

no experience necessary

In Ireland and Northern Ireland there is no licence requirement for cruising, and anyone 18 years or over can hire a cruiser.

The rivers and lakes of the Shannon and Erne are a wonderful area for quiet relaxation. The real enjoyment of the holiday is in gently exploring this unique waterway, watching the wildlife and the endlessly changing river and landscapes.

For those who are new to cruising, it is certainly an experience you won’t want to miss.

Where should I go?

Discover our Destinations. There are plenty of options when choosing a holiday on the Shannon and Erne Waterways.


The Upper Shannon is the busiest of the entire navigation system and you will find many activities for young and old alike, world class restaurants and lots of pubs, where you will find the music and craic that the Irish are famous for.


The Lower Shannon lazes through undulating lush countryside that is steeped in history as well as real Irish character. Life slows down along this stretch of the Shannon and boats pass less frequently – the noise of nature takes over once more.


The jewel in the crown of Co. Fermanagh. In the North west of the island of Ireland lies an interconnecting network of loughs, rivers and backwaters that would take a lifetime to explore.


choose your licence-free boat

What boat should I book?

With a range of boats from 2 to 12 berth, you are sure to find a boat to suit your needs. Have a browse through the boats or use our BOAT FINDER to answer a few simple questions and we can recommend the ideal boat for you.

Online Tutorial

We recommend that all crew members complete the Online Tutorial before arrival as it contains a lot of useful information to help you enjoy your holiday. It takes around 1-2 hours to complete and can be done at your leisure.

There are 12 modules and then a Captain’s Quiz at the end. When you complete the Captain’s Quiz, you will receive a certificate and we will also get an email so that we know you have completed the tutorial. This will make your check-in at the marina quicker and easier.

Couple navigates on Lough Ree

How will I navigate?

Couple navigates on Lough Ree

On arrival, you will receive a copy of our bespoke Navigation Guide.  Simply learn a few basic rules of navigation and you will find it very easy. 

The entire Shannon and Erne system is marked with poles to show you where to go and warn you of shallow water.  Simply stay between these markers and you will be fine.  So long as you follow our charts and maps you will find the rivers and lakes perfectly safe for people who have not experienced a cruising holiday before. 

The detailed Navigation Guide also provides information on facilities provided at each mooring location along the way.


How will I control the boat?


You will receive a demonstration by an instructor on your own craft and you will be shown the controls and how they work.

The instructor will demonstrate how you leave a mooring (and return) and then you will be able to do some manoeuvres yourself.

This is the time to ask the instructor any questions you may have.

Teamwork and routines


Managing a cruiser successfully requires teamwork and it is best to allocate specific tasks to each member of the crew before setting off so that everyone is involved in the day-to-day running of the cruiser.

Before setting off it is important that everybody knows what they are doing and has attended the navigation class.


Daily maintenance & water supply


Water is constantly being used on the cruiser and must be replenished daily in order that you do not run out.

One crew member should be responsible for filling the tank each day.

Water is available at most mooring places free of charge.

The weed filter

The cooling water for the engine is drawn from the river through a filter and exits out the exhaust pipe.

If the filter should block with weed the water will stop flowing from the exhaust and the filter will need cleaning.

If this happens phone the Marina for advice and/or assistance.

Electrical/battery power

The batteries supplying the electrical power must be recharged each day and this means running the engine for at least 2 hours every day.


At the start of your voyage the cruiser will have a full tank of diesel fuel. The Waterford, Clare, Kilkenny, Wexford and Carlow Classes have sufficient fuel to last 2 weeks normally (about 60 hours driving) and can only be re-fuelled at a Carrickcraft base.

The locations of diesel fuel stations are shown on the Navigation Charts.

Please note that fuel may not always be available on Sundays as many businesses, including Carrickcraft, have restricted opening hours.

Why choose
Carrickcraft has been the specialist in river cruising holidays for over 50 years.
When you hire a boat from Carrickcraft, you will benefit from the advice of experts who are passionate about boating and who will do their utmost to ensure you have a great holiday.