Approximate journey time: 75 minutes
Public Sailings - Lough Ree & Hodson Bay Cruise
Lough Ree & Hodson Bay Cruise
Departing from Athlone Castle, this cruise travels upstream on the River Shannon to Lough Ree. During the sailing there is live commentary on local history, the religious settlements on the islands and tales of Viking treasure. This is a boat trip that can be enjoyed by all ages and is suitable for any family occasion. Don a Viking helmet and prepare for battle or simply sit back with an Irish Coffee. Either way, you will enjoy the beauty of the Inland Waterways and witness everything Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands has to offer.
The fiercest Viking to visit Lough Ree is Olaf Scabbyhead and his daring fleet of Viking longships. In 933 Scabbyhead and his crew plundered and looted the midlands for precious metals and valuable artifacts. This angered the Viking King Olaf Guthfrithsson who sent his men to defeat and imprison Scabbyhead in 937. Olaf succeeded but he unknowingly left treasure behind. Where do you think the treasure is buried?
Nature and wildlife
Lough Ree is famous for its meadows and nesting birds. Under an EU directive, the lake has been designated a special area of protection and conservation. This is particularly important due to the many wildlife species in the region. Recorded are, amongst others, the great crested grebe, cormorant, lapwing, and heron. Mammals recorded include mink, fox and otter.
The lake has the world’s second oldest yacht club. Every summer colourful sails can be seen dotted around the lough as numerous boats compete in racing events. The Shannon-One-Design being a fine example of local craftsmanship.
Information for our Hodson Bay Hotel guests
During the Lough Ree cruise, the Viking Ship makes a short stop at the Hodson Bay Hotel. Check our departure times here or at the hotel’s reception. All sailings are return, excluding the last sailing of the day. To embark on this cruise, you will need to wait at the outer quay wall of the harbour and there are signs in the area to direct you. Please beware that it is an active public harbour.
If you are a wheelchair user please contact us in advance
What Our Passengers Say
Fun and informative
“As a family of six we went on the Viking Boat Trip and it was a great family experience. It was a very relaxing, informative and enjoyable trip with beautiful scenery. The kids purchased their Viking hats and swords and had great fun playing with their swords. We stopped off at the Hodson Bay and got the return boat back to Athlone later that afternoon. Was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.”
A Hidden History Tour
“We took this tour on the Shannon and were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the commentary. Michael gave a very informative talk as we travelled on the river into the lake. There was just the right amount of history and local nature to make it a very interesting morning. The ship also has an interesting history. I learned things about the Shannon that I didn’t know before. The complimentary coffee warmed us up on a chilly morning.”
“A cruise on the River Shannon up to lovely Lough Ree. Great captain who makes the voyage fun for children and really interesting for adults. Why Vikings? Because Lough Ree was once the base for these, who raided monasteries around the area, including Clonmacnoise, and buried their treasure trove on Hare Island on the lake. Well worth the trip to hear this and other fascinating facts about Lough Ree, the River Shannon and Athlone. Five stars.”
Viking Tours from the Hodson Bay Hotel
“Had some time during a visit to the Hodson Bay hotel on Lough Ree so we took the Viking Tours boat down to Athlone. Heard some interesting local history, learned about the Lough and the River Shannon. Got new views of Athlone from the river and had time for lunch and a little exploring before the return back to the dock opposite the hotel. Well worth the trip, plan to do the longer tour down to Clonmacnoise next time we’re up.”