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Australia’s love affair with holidays on the water includes small boats, with Sunsail, Le Boat and The Moorings reporting strong growth.

David Reid, Tui Marine’s head of distribution, said Le Boat passengers travelling from Australia were up 22 percent, with the Canal du Midi taking nine out of 10 cruisers, while the rest headed for Burgundy.

The group, which is celebrating 40 years of operations, has 2,500 boats in 100 bases around the world. Mr Reid maintained cruisers were seriously considering the “private yacht” alternative to big ships.

Up-market renter The Moorings, for instance, could hire a motor or sail yacht for six at around $20,000 a week. It would take six adults, a captain and a cook. That equates to $476 a day per person.

“It’s a very cost effective ship, and you can go where you want when you want,” he said.

Mr Reid was launching new brochures for Le Boat, The Moorings and Sunsail.

Le Boat has new vessels built by well-known French boat builder Benateau.  The Vision has flat screen TVs, en suites and air conditioning.

And a new Le Boat app tells sailors about restaurants and attractions on shore as they pass through France.