Houseboat rentals

12 Knots offers modern houseboats for charter in 36 locations around the world – spacious, comfortable vessels gained popularity among sailors in past few years. Modern cruising houseboats provide stability, excellent sailing performance and habitability: spacious cabins, functional deck space.

Free cancellation of reservation without obligations! You may reserve any boat and it will be on hold for you for 4 days free of charge

What Is a Houseboat?

Traditionally, houseboats were known as floating on-water residences. They were generally thought of as a comfortable dwelling that provided no operational functionwere permanently moored, and served only as stationery lodgingWhile that still may be the case in many countries around the world, modernized cruising or ‘bluewater’ houseboats – especially those for charter, have become extremely popular as a recreational boat that provides its passengers with all the comforts of home. 

Today, many houseboats come outfitted with propulsion systemsAdding both a motor and steering mechanism (and, sometimes sails) has allowed these floating houses to become fully operational- capable of travelling down rivers and canals, around lakes, bays, and harbors, as well as inter-coastal waterways. 

Originally built from all wood, you’ll find many houseboats today are constructed from a combination of wood and other light-weight materials such as fiberglass, steel, or aluminum- which makes them effortless to operate and cruise along shallow waters.  

Generally, the ‘house’ structure, comprised of the living quarters (kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms), cockpit, and navigation station are built on top of a completely level, flat bottom. However, there are some houseboats that are designed with pontoons- primarily for the purpose of enhancing the vesselbuoyancy. All houseboats feature substantial decking located at one end, both ends, or surrounding the entire structure. 

Houseboat Charters

Houseboat charters offer a unique ‘home-like’ vacation for families or a group of friends while exploring exciting waterways around the world.  

12 Knots offers over 2,500 modern houseboats for charter in 36 locations around the world. In the past few years, these spacious vessels have quickly gained popularity among sailing enthusiasts around the world. Modern cruising houseboats provide stability, excellent sailing performance, and habitability: They also offer passengers comfort and convenience with roomy cabins, ample living areas, and functional deck space. 

Today’s houseboat charters come in all shapes and sizes; from a 35 foot vessel with one or two cabins to luxury models up to 100 feet that can accommodate a great number of passengers. In addition to providing you with all the comforts of home, the design of today’s modern houseboats have even gone the extra mile- offering a wide variety of amenities such as: luxurious air conditioned accommodations, state-of-the art technology, outdoor patio areas with grills, fly bridges, water slides, bars, beautiful staircases leading to an upper level, and more! 

Houseboat Rentals vs Sail and Motorboat Charters

Chartering a houseboat is a great, safe way to enjoy a relaxing vacation with family and friends-without sacrificing the excitement of being out on the water. Yet, there are differences you might want to consider when renting a houseboat for your next vacation: 

  • One of the major differences between a houseboat charter and any other type of sail or motorboat rental is a houseboat is not designed to travel on/across oceans- so their charter destinations will be limited to calmer inland waters.  

  • The design of a houseboat is distinctively different than that of a sail or motor boat. A houseboat’s floor plan is more similar to that of a house that sits on a flat platform on top of the water. Unlike other boats, it has no keel and generally no sails. 

  • A houseboat has a flat bottom hull which is designed to enhance its stability; whereas traditional sailboats have V- shaped hulls to enhance its agility and speed. 

  • Houseboats, much like a catamaran or trimaran have shallow drafts, which creates safe and smoother cruising. 

  • Unlike many other traditional sail and motorboats, houseboats are designed for comfortable, long-term living. 

  • Houseboats are solely designed for recreational purposes and do not have the ability to race. 

  • Although any boat (with the exception of a gullet) can be chartered either bareboat or crewed, with a houseboat rental you won’t need sailing skills or a boating license to operate this type of vessel. 

  • Houseboats are generally considered more cost effective because of their minimal fuel consumption (slower speeds and limited mobility) and mechanical maintenance (less wear and tear on the vessel). They are also considered less labor-intensive to operate than a sailboat. 

  • Fees at marinas can be considerably less than that of other charters because they generally dock for longer periods of time.  

  • On a houseboat, you can easily and safely enjoy any type of water activity- swimming, fishing, tubing, snorkeling, and kayaking. 

  • While your destinations might be limited to inland waters- on a houseboat you can explore an infinite number of interesting locations- via waterways where sail and motorboats can’t travel.  

  • Houseboat rentals tend to be more affordable-especially because you won’t have to hire a captain/crew and all the amenities are already onboard. 

Cost of a Houseboat Rental

Many people are surprised that the cost of renting a houseboat is not only affordable, it’s one of the more feasible ways to enjoy a vacation on the water. Of course, with a houseboat you won’t be able to sail the open seas, but with all the quaint towns and villages to explore along the diverse inland waterways, it can be just as fun and exciting-especially for families travelling with children or those who are vacationing with large group of friends. 

With special offers and booking discounts offered at 12 Knots, renting a houseboat is one of the most enjoyable and leisurely ways to travel on water. Whether you decide on a bareboat rental or a hire a crew for your next houseboat vacation, the cost of your charter will always depend on the following factors: 

  • Houseboat’s size, age, and model 

  • Type of charter-crewed/bareboat 

  • Destination  

  • Duration of trip  

  • Season/time of year  


Generally speaking, the cost of renting a houseboat will vary considerably. For instance, with a 12 Knots houseboat charter you can explore the canals and rivers of Northern Europe on a one cabin vessel starting at $400 US dollar per week. Or, maybe you want to cruise along the breathtaking inland waterways of Canada on a 5 cabin luxury houseboat that you can book for $5,000 per week. With over 2,500 modern houseboats to choose from worldwide, 12 Knots can help you find the perfect houseboat to rent that will suit your needs, preferences, and budget! 

For the best price and value for your money, you’ll want to contact 12 Knots to take advantage of their booking discounts and charter special offers 

Best Houseboat Charter Destinations

Although houseboat rentals are available across the globe, European Inland waters, Russia, North America, Spain, Northern Europe, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany are some of the most popular destinations. Renting a houseboat in any of these destinations is a great way to explore a country’s inland waters-whether you’re cruising down a canal or river, across a lake or bay, or on an inter-coastal waterway. 

Charter Houseboat Requirements

In general, houseboat rentals don’t require previous boating experience or any type of special licensing to operate the vessel. For many people, operating a house boat is comparable to driving a car. Depending on where you charter your houseboat from, the marina staff/charter company will often provide you with an orientation session. These sessions will typically include all the pertinent information and instruction you’ll need to operate the boat once you leave the dock. Of course, if you would rather not be responsible for operating the boat on your own, you can always hire a skipper for your houseboat vacation …so you and your guests can just sit back and enjoy the ride! 

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