Experience the John Bunyan Boat

Public Cruises

A cruise on the river gives you a completely different view of the town. Even people who’ve lived here all their lives see something new!

Watch the world go by and spot a kingfisher or two. Admire the historic bridges and buildings on the water’s edge. Or party as the world floats by!

August 2020 – COVID Update

We are delighted to announce a series of Socially Distanced Cruises to see in the autumn on the John Bunyan Boat.

To ensure we can comply with Social Distancing guidelines, we are restricting our capacity to 12, which means we can only accept bookings for tables of 2 or 4 people (if your party is an odd number, you will need to round up). Each party must be part of the same support bubble. PLEASE NOTE WHEN YOU BOOK 1 “TABLE FOR 2” YOU ARE PAYING FOR 2 PEOPLE TO COME ON BOARD. WHEN YOU BOOK 1 “TABLE FOR 4” YOU ARE PAYING FOR 4 PEOPLE TO COME ON BOARD.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are only able welcome on board those who;

• are able to board the boat unassisted (or with minimal assistance from a companion)
• can wear a mask for the duration of the trip (except when eating or drinking)
• can sit for a minimum of 1 hour uninterrupted.

The wearing of a facemask or covering is compulsory on boarding the boat, and throughout the duration of the trip.

Unfortunately, this means we are unable to accept bookings for anyone who would require the lift to board, including wheelchair users, anyone who is medically exempt from wearing a mask, or for small children who would not be able to stay seated for the duration of the cruise. This is to ensure we can protect both passengers and volunteers, and we look forward to welcoming you back on board the John Bunyan Boat very soon. There are no Concession tickets available for these cruises.

The contact details you give when booking your tickets will be stored, as per our existing privacy policy, but we may now, in the event of any outbreak need to pass those contact details to the government test and trace system, in the event of an outbreak. By purchasing a ticket you agree to us doing so. Please ensure you put up to date contact information on your booking.

Thursday Afternoon 1½ hr Socially Distanced Embankment cruise

• Priory Marina and return departing at 1.30pm
• Cruise along the river this autumn, and book a cream tea to enjoy on the river.
• Table for 2 £21 / Table for 4 £40 Optional Cream Tea £6 per person* (+75p GF)
• 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th October 2020

Sunday Afternoon 1 ½ hour Socially Distanced Afternoon Cream Tea cruise

• Priory Marina and return at 1.30pm*
• Cruise along the river this autumn, and book a cream tea to enjoy on the river.
• Table for 2 £21 / Table for 4 £40 Optional Cream Tea £6 per person (+75p GF)
• Sunday 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th October 2020

Wednesday 7th October Public Special

3 ½hour Barns Hotel Afternoon Tea Cruise departing 2pm* Priory Marina take a relaxing trip through Bedford countryside to the Barns Hotel to enjoy a traditional afternoon Tea. On leaving the Barns we return directly to Priory Marina.
• Table for 2 £52 / Table for 4 £100

*Boarding will take place 15mins before above advertised times

The John Bunyan Boat normally carries a maximum 50 passengers due to the Social Distancing guidelines we will be carrying only a maximum of 12 passengers per cruise set on the government 2m social distancing guidelines between pairs of seats. During this period we are unable to use the disable lift fitted to the John Bunyan Boat, note passengers are required to navigate a number of steps on both boarding and disembarking.

We will aim to resume a full normal cruise schedule from spring 2021 with the usual cruises listed below.

Please click here to download additional terms before you book.

Thursday Afternoon Cruises

Cruise from Sovereign Quay through the tranquil river water to Cardington before returning to Sovereign Quay.

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Enjoy a relaxing cruise under the historic Town Bridge past Bedford Castle mound and then through the Town lock and along the tranquil river to Cardington Lock.

Departing from Sovereign Quay at 2.30pm for a 2 hour cruise towards Kempston Mill and returning back to Sovereign Quay, Adult £13, Concession £11, Child £9 per person and Family ticket £31 (2 Adult & 2 Children under sixteen). A fully licence bar is available on board.

If you're booking in advance, you can also book the following refreshments in addition to your ticket;-
Cream Tea £6 / Ploughman's Lunch £7.50 (add 75p for Gluten-free option) / Picnic Box £9. Vegan options are available.

2020 Cruise Dates: To be confirmed

Enjoy a relaxing cruise upriver through Bedford Town Lock, along the Embankment and under the historic Town Bridge to Sovereigns Quay.

Disembark and make your own way back to Priory Marina by foot along the embankment or public transport.
Departing from Priory Marina at 1.30pm for a 45 minute cruise to Sovereign Quay (One way only), Adult £6, Concession £5, Child £4 per person and Family ticket £14 (2 Adult & 2 Children under sixteen).

2020 Cruise Dates: To be confirmed

Sunday Afternoon Cruises

Join us on a relaxing Sunday afternoon cruise though picturesque pastures of Bedford from Priory or Sovereign Quay to Kempston.

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Enjoy a relaxing cruise through Bedford’s picturesque countryside, to discover Bedford's unique pyramid! Navigate the Town lock, and then see the 12th century mound of Bedford Castle before going under the historic Town Bridge, calling at Sovereigns Quay to pick up additional passengers, before cruise upriver passing the Guru Nanak Gurdwara temple in Queens Park, Kempston Outdoor Centre and on towards Kempston Mill before returning.

Departing from Priory Marina at 1.30pm for a 4 hour cruise towards Kempston Mill and return to Priory Marina, Adult £18, Concession £16, Child £14 per person and Family ticket £42 (2 Adult & 2 Children under sixteen). A fully licence bar is available on board.

If you're booking in advance, you can also book the following refreshments in addition to your tickets; - Cream Tea £6 / Ploughman's Lunch £7.50 (add 75p for Gluten-free option) / Picnic Box £9. Vegan options are available.

2020 Cruise Dates: To be confirmed

Enjoy a relaxing cruise through Bedford’s picturesque countryside cruising upriver, passing the Guru Nanak Gurdwara temple in Queens Park, Kempston Outdoor Centre and on towards Kempston Mill before returning to Sovereign Quay.

Departing from Sovereign Quay at 2.30pm for a 2 hour cruise towards Kempston Mill and return to Sovereign Quay ,Adult £13, Concession £11, Child £9 per person and Family ticket £31 (2 Adult & 2 Children under sixteen). A fully licence bar is available on board.

If you're booking in advance, you can also book the following refreshments in addition to your tickets; -
Cream Tea £6 / Ploughman's Lunch £7.50 (add 75p for Gluten-free option) / Picnic Box £9.

2020 Cruise Dates: To be confirmed

Anchor Lunch, Great Barford

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    Enjoy a cruise on the River Great Ouse, we departing from Priory Marina at 10.00am for a 3 hour cruise to The Anchor Inn for lunch and return by coach* at 3pm back to Priory Marina. £36 per person includes a buffet lunch** at the Anchor Inn and Restaurant. A fully licence bar is available on board.

    *Please note this cruise may not be suitable for all wheelchair users. Please call us on 0330 1239 511 to discuss your needs before booking your ticket.

    **Please email us with your booking number with any specific dietary requirements.

    2020 Cruise Dates : To be confirmed

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Cruise to the Barns Hotel for Afternoon Tea

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    Enjoy an afternoon cruise on the River Great Ouse with a stop at the beautiful Barns Hotel for Afternoon Tea* before returning by boat to Priory Marina
    Departing from Priory Marina at 14.00pm for a 3.5 hour cruise to the Barns Hotel for a traditional afternoon tea, on leaving the Barns Hotel we return directly back to Priory Marina. £26 per person including the afternoon tea. A fully licence bar is available on board.

    *Please email us with your booking number for any specific dietary requirements.

    2020 Cruise Dates : To be confirmed

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Saturday Evening Fish & Chip Supper

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    Have a relaxing evening cruise as sun goes down along, Bedford’s picturesque countryside, the Embankment, to discover Bedford's unique pyramid! Navigating the Town lock, and then past the 12th century mound of Bedford Castle before going under the historic Town Bridge as we make our way along to Queens Bridge, enjoying our Fish & Chip supper. Also available are alternatives to Fish and Chips supper; - chicken & chips, vegetable pancake & chips, please select on the online booking form.

    Departing from Priory Marina at 6.00pm for a 2 hour cruise to Queens Bridge Kempston and return to Priory Marina. Adult £19, Concession £17, Child £15 per person, Family ticket £55 (2 Adult & 2 Children under sixteen), the ticket includes the price of the on board supper. A fully licence bar is available on board.

    2020 Cruise Dates : To be confirmed

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Evening Jazz Cruise

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    Enjoy a relaxing evening of Jazz as the sun goes down, on board the John Bunyan as we cruise Bedford’s picturesque countryside. Pre and post-trip drinks are available at the Riverside Tavern, Barns Hotel.

    Departing from the Barns Hotel at 7.30pm (Boarding the John Bunyan at 7.15pm) for a 2 hour cruise before returning back to the Barns Hotel, £20 per person, A fully licence bar is available on board.

    The following refreshments options can be added to your Jazz cruise at an extra cost by booking at the same times as your cruise ticket; -
    • Fish and Chips £9 or a picnic box £9
    • Gluten free and Vegan options are also available

    The Barns Hotel also offer a 2 course meal for £19.99 (extra course £6.95) which needs to be booked in advance with the hotel and must be for no later than 5.30pm. http://barnshotelbedford.co.uk/
    Barns Hotel postal address MK44 3SA

    2020 Cruise Dates : To be confirmed

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Motown & Soul Cruise

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    Get your dancing shoes on as it is party time on the John Bunyan with our Motown and Soul cruise featuring either DJ Keith Stewart or Martin Sloan. Boogie the night away to your favourite Motown and Soul tracks on our 2 hour cruise. Pre and post-trip drinks are available at the Riverside Tavern, Barns Hotel.

    Departing from the Barns Hotel at 7.30pm (Boarding the John Bunyan at 7.15pm) for a 2 hour cruise before returning back to the Barns Hotel, £15.00 per person, A fully licence bar is available on board.

    The following refreshments options can be added to your Motown cruise at an extra cost by booking at the same times as your cruise ticket; -
    • Picnic box £9
    • Gluten free and Vegan options are also available

    The Barns Hotel also offer a 2 course meal for £19.99 (extra course £6.95) which needs to be booked in advance with the hotel and must be for no later than 5.30pm. http://barnshotelbedford.co.uk/
    Barns Hotel postal address MK44 3SA

    2020 Cruise Dates : To be confirmed

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Folk on the Boat Cruise

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    Enjoy a relaxing evening of Folk music featuring Hey Ho! folk group and guest artists, as the sun goes down, on board the John Bunyan as we cruise Bedford’s picturesque countryside. Pre and post-trip drinks are available at the Riverside Tavern, Barns Hotel.

    Departing from the Barns Hotel at 7.30pm (Boarding the John Bunyan at 7.15pm) for a 2 hour cruise before returning back to the Barns Hotel, £17.50 per person, A fully licence bar is available on board.

    The following refreshments options can be added to your cruise at an extra cost by booking at the same times as your cruise ticket; -
    • Picnic box £9
    • Gluten free and Vegan options are also available

    The Barns Hotel also offer a 2 course meal for £19.99 (extra course £6.95) which needs to be booked in advance with the hotel and must be for no later than 5.30pm. http://barnshotelbedford.co.uk/
    Barns Hotel postal address MK44 3SA

    2020 Cruise Dates & Artists : To be confirmed

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Irish Band Evening Cruise

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    Enjoy a lively music evening cruise featuring Inis Eire who are a Ceilidh band providing amazing music from the island of Ireland as we cruise Bedford’s picturesque countryside. Pre and post-trip drinks are available at the Riverside Tavern, Barns Hotel.

    Departing from the Barns Hotel at 7.30pm (Boarding the John Bunyan at 7.15pm) for a 2 hour cruise before returning back to the Barns Hotel, £17.50 per person, A fully licence bar is available on board.

    The following refreshments options can be added to your cruise at an extra cost by booking at the same times as your cruise ticket; -
    • Picnic box £9
    • Gluten free and Vegan options are also available

    The Barns Hotel also offer a 2 course meal for £19.99 (extra course £6.95) which needs to be booked in advance with the hotel and must be for no later than 5.30pm. http://barnshotelbedford.co.uk/
    Barns Hotel postal address MK44 3SA

    2020 Cruise Dates : To be confirmed

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Bank Holiday Monday Cruises

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    Enjoy a relaxing 45 min Bank Holiday river cruises, cruising along the Embankment from Sovereign Quay. It's the perfect way to try the John Bunyan Boat for the first time, and great for families with young children.

    Departure from Sovereign's Quay at 10.45am, 12.00pm, 1.45pm & 3.00pm. Boarding the John Bunyan will take place 15mins before the advertised times, Adult £6, Concession £5, Child £4 per person and Family ticket £14 ((2 Adult & 2 Children under sixteen)). Advisable to book in advance as these cruises are very popular during the Bank Holidays and sell out very quickly.

    2020 Cruise Dates : To be confirmed

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Booking Information

  • Passengers must arrive 15 minutes before departure time. Bookings close 36 hours before cruise start time. You can still purchase a ticket on board, subject to availability, but not book food.
  • All cruise times approximate, dependent on river conditions and time spent going through locks.
  • If the river is in flood, cruises will be re-routed or cancelled and alternative dates or refunds will be given. Please check the latest news before you leave. If you have not pre-booked, please check our Facebook page for last minute changes.
  • Family tickets are for two adults and two children under sixteen.
  • Concessionary rates are available to pensioners, students and people with disabilities. Documentary ID / Proof will be checked on boarding.
  • Concessionary rates and children rates are not available for the Anchor Inn Lunch, Barns Hotel Afternoon Tea, Jazz Motown, Folk and Irish Band music cruises.
  • Passengers are not permitted to consume their own alcohol or food on board public cruises.
  • We can reserve provisional places on our public cruises for groups of over 10 people for up to 30 days. Please call our booking line on 01946 690 301.
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Booking Terms & Conditions

Public cruise terms & conditions can be download here.

John Bunyan Public Cruises

The latest Public Cruise brochure is available for download.

Public Cruise Departure Points

To find our departure points, download the departure point guide.

What our customers say

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  •   If there is anybody out there interested in superb soul music, get on the Soul Boat Bedford for a great soulful afternoon/evening. NOT TO BE MISSED.

    Raymondo65
    8/29/2019

      We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. What a beautiful way to see Bedford. Loved every minute. What a great team!
    Best wishes
    Irene Grant-Jones

    SingingBlonde
    8/07/2019
  •   Went on the John Bunyan boat as a group of approx 30.The weather was mixed - heavy showers & lovely sunshine, but it doesn't matter what the weather is like... read more

    TravellingSmilingxxx
    8/06/2019

      What a fantastic evening on the John bunyan.... a cruise down the ouse with perfect weather and great tunes of soul and Motown this a private charter so I was... read more

    audratimmins
    8/29/2019
  •   When our friends booked this evening cruise with Soul Music we expected a melodic evening sailing gently down the river Ouse. What we got completely destroyed a potentially lovely cruise.... read more

    DaveArtBedford
    8/19/2019

      Great fun, the crew were polite and knowledgeable concerning the route and the cream tea was good. Wish we had booked the 4 hour cruise instead of from the quay... read more

    Michael G
    8/16/2019