City Cruises Announces Acquisition of York Sightseeing Fleet



London River Thames sightseeing operator City Cruises has today announced a multi-million-pound deal following the acquisition of York River Boats Cruises Ltd. As a result, the fleet will become more widely available for travel agents and group travel organisers to book for customers.

The purchase of the York river sightseeing company, for £2.5 million, will see the brand expand from its current operations in London and Poole to 25 boats in three locations across the UK. City Cruises has taken full ownership as of 5th May 2017 and will begin operating as City Cruises York.

The expansion into one of the UK’s most popular tourist cities adds to the brand’s successes in 2016, following the £2.4 million refurbishment of the City Alpha and the launch of the third ThamesJet boat, further cementing its investment in the UK economy and tourism industry.

City Cruises can reveal an overall increase in revenue of 6% in 2016-17, compared with the previous year. This rise can be attributed to several factors. A private hire service introduced in 2015 delivered 168 private hires in 2016-17, generating a 17% increase in revenue. The company’s programme of themed cruises has also gone from strength to strength. Revenue from Showboat sailings increased 16%, revenue from afternoon tea cruises increased by 10% and increasing the frequency of the Jazz cruise to every Friday delivered a revenue increase of 117.

City Cruises Poole was the company’s first acquisition outside of London, in April 2014. Last year this operation contributed a 47% increase in sales, aided by the introduction of a Swanage cruise that can be booked in combination with a Swanage Steam Railway ticket to Corfe Castle.

York Boats is the tour boat operator’s second acquisition outside of London. The existing York model has a much smaller percentage of trade and internet sales; City Cruises will develop the brand further and allow travel agents to benefit from earning commission selling boat trips on the River Ouse. York also sits on the traditional route for coach tours to Scotland and is a huge draw for tourists both locally and internationally.

York Boats currently employs 20 staff lead by general manager Jo Dykes and has five large passenger boats. Jo, who has been with the company for over 20 years, has been instrumental in the success of York Boats and will oversee the company’s transition to become City Cruises York. The sightseeing cruises will run from two boarding points along the River Ouse, King’s Staith and Lendal Bridge, and will grow to offer a similar schedule to London. The new cruising options will include the early evening Sundowner as well as Lunch and Dinner Cruises. York will also operate the ever-popular Sail with Santa Cruise and Christmas Night Cruises throughout the festive season.

The City of York is just two hours away from London by train, home to more than 40 hotels and attracts over seven million visitors annually. City Cruises will now be at the forefront of York’s tourism offer with a river sightseeing operation on the city’s river.

Kyle Haughton, managing director, says “Our objective is to grow the business beyond London and the new acquisition is a step towards achieving this. There are significant opportunities to work with the trade in York and the success we’ve had packaging attractions with cruises is something we want to develop there too. We’re increasingly seeing the inbound market expanding into regions outside the capital and we believe that our brand and business model will enhances the traditional boat operator business in York.”