Ipswich: Another good year for the Orwell Lady

Orwell River Cruise launch at Ipswich Waterfront

Orwell River Cruise launch at Ipswich Waterfront - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Halloween out on the river Orwell

There will be ghostly goings-on, out on the river Orwell, on Saturday November 1.

The Ipswich Waterfront-based Orwell Lady is having a special Ghost Cruise on the Saturday afternoon, its first, with local ghost expert Ed Nicholls providing the spooky commentary.

It is a chance for passengers to dress up in typical Halloween style too, perhaps as witches and warlocks and things that go bump in the night!

That weekend, with a disco cruise on the Friday night, marks the end of the main season for the Orwell Lady.

Emma Lightfoot said: “We have got a couple of private charters, up to the 15th, and we wil be taking her out of the water for her annual winter maintenance and overhaul, and her MCA inspection.

“It has been really good this season. We have had pretty decent weather, of course, and we are weather dependent.

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“The Maritime weekend was very good for us and linking with Coffee Link, for ticket sales, has been a great help giving us a Waterfront presence.

“Our afternoon tea cruises have often been full and we did our first Sunday afternoon buffet cruise, on fathers’ day, and the first one was packed out. “They have been very busy,

“We are quite pleased with it really.”

In just a few years the Orwell Lady has become a fixture at the Waterfront, a real tourist attraction, providing the opportunity for visitors and locals alike to see the Waterfront and the beautiful river Orwell from out on the water.

Next year, 2015, will actually by its 14fth season, great news for this family-owned and run business.

“We will be starting at Easter, which is early next year,” explained Emma Lightfoot.

Over the Maritime weekend they took parties out for Wet Dock and Orwell Bridge cruises all weekend, she said.

There had also been a series of disco and live music themed nights.

“For next year we are doing a tribute night for Nat King Cole and re-introducing our sunset afternoon cruises, with jazz music.

“People have asked for them and we are bringing them back. You have to evolve, and try new things, and bring things back if people like them.”

The annual Maritime Festival had been great for the town, he said.

“It is lovely for Ipswich, bringing in people from a wide area.

“I spoke to some people who had come down, from Leeds, Yorkshire specifically because it was Maritime week.”

River cruises are well supported by local people, she said, including WI’s, the U3A (University of the Third Age) and other clubs and organisations

.”They often book a block of tickets. We are so well supported by the local community, it is lovely.”

They were also well known by holiday coach tour operators.

“The Waterfront is now a local tourist attraction, and tours might take in Long Melford and Lavenham, and in Ipswich Christchurch Mansion and the Orwell Lady. We are on the tourist routes now.

“The Waterfront area is very interesting, The old buildings and the history, even the Wine Rack in its own way. It is all very interesting and slightly quaint, I suppose.

“It will continue to develop, but I wouldn’t want to see it change quickly.”

River cruises were a great opportunty for families to experience the river, she said. “It is very beautiful. Everybody should take the chance to enjoy it,” she added. “We should appreciate what we have locally.”

Emma Lightfoot