Dart Pleasure Craft Limited

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MV Cardiff Castle on a river cruise at Totnes.
MV Dartmouth Princess operating on the Dartmouth Passenger Ferry. Three sister ships in the River Link fleet can be seen moored to the right.
A bus operated by the same company, seen near the Steamer Quay in Totnes.

River Link is the trading name of Dart Pleasure Craft Limited, a ferry, cruise boat and bus operator, based in Devon, England. The company is owned by Dart Valley Railway plc, who also own and operate the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway.[1][2]


River Link operates the Dartmouth Passenger Ferry, which connects the terminus of the steam railway at Kingswear station to the waterfront at Dartmouth, on the opposite bank of River Dart. It also operates river and coastal cruises from Dartmouth, including a cruise the length of the tidal Dart to the Steamer Quay in Totnes.[3][4]

The railway between Paignton and Kingswear, the ferry from Kingswear to Dartmouth, and the river cruise from Dartmouth to Totnes form three segments of a heavily promoted round-trip known as the Round Robin. In order to close the loop, River Link operates a bus service, often using open top buses, between Totnes and Paignton.[3]

Current Fleet

Dart Pleasure Craft currently operate a fleet of 7 major vessels, as well as 3 small 12 passenger boats.

Cardiff Castle The largest vessel in the fleet carrying 400 passengers. Built in 1964 for the River Dart Steamboat Company. From 1977 operated for the Millbrook Steamboat and Trading Company out of Plymouth, but returned to the Dart in 1985, and has operated for Dart Pleasure Craft ever since. Presently mainly used on the Totnes service.[5]

Dart Explorer A modern catamaran, carying 300 passengers and built for the company in 1991 as Devonair Belle. She is mainly used on the 1 hour harbour cruise, and also operates most of the charters and evening disco cruises.[6]

Dart Venturer Originally built as Plymouth Venturer for Plymouth Boat Cruises in 1982, this 300 passenger vessel ran for them until 2002, when it was "swapped" with Dart Pleasure Craft's smaller Plymouth Belle. Used on all of the services. [7]

Dittisham Princess Built as the Flagship of G.H. Riddall's fleet in 1995, this 181 passenger vessel was taken over in 2000. Despite being the newest member of the fleet, she appears to see little service. [8]

Dartmouth Princess Built as the Devon Belle II in 1990, she joined the G.H Riddall fleet in 1995. Since being taken over by Dart Pleasure craft in 2000 she has become the main ferry on the short Dartmouth-Kingswear route.[9]

Kingswear Belle Originally built in 1972 for service in the Channel Islands as Herm Trident II she was bought by Dart Pleasure Craft in 1989 for use on the Kingswear Ferry, where she can cary 23 passengers. She had a major fire in 2006. Since the purchase of Dartmouth Princess she sees little use.[10]

Edgecumbe Belle A small ferry with a very long and complex history. One of two sisters Built in 1957 for British Rail as Humphrey Gilbert (her sister was Adrain Gilbert, for use on the Dartmouth-Kingswear ferry service. When the Paignton-Kingswear branch line was closed by British rail, the two ferries passed briefly into local authority ownership, then were sold fo use on the Falmouth - St Mawes Ferry, followed by a sale back to BR for use on the Tilbury-Gravesend ferry, but they were deemed unsuitable for use on either of these tw routs. The Adrain Gilbert returned to the Kingswear ferry in 1977. After a period of inactivity, owned by various companies, the Humphrey Gilbert was soldto Millbrook Steamboat and Trading Company, renamed Edgecumbe Belle and used on their Plymouth - Drake's Island ferry. She returned to the Dart in 1985, when she partnered her sister on the Kingswear Ferry until 1996, when Adrian Gilbert was sold, somewhat ironically to the St Mawes Ferry Company, where she continues to work quite successfully. Edgecumbe Belle on the other hand, remains as the main relief vessel on the Kingswear ferry, and sees a large amount of service. She briefly ran a service to Greenway, but this has now been withdrawn, and Dart Pleasure Craft instead market the former rival service operated by Greenway Ferry Limited. [11]

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