MAXINE GORDON sweeps the cobwebs aside for an evening trip aboard York's new Ghost Cruise

WE'RE all doomed. It's not the usual message from a boat captain as you prepare for a river cruise.

But this is no ordinary boat trip.

Rats sit territorially on the tables in the lower deck and the evil, twisted mouths of pumpkin lanterns are about as inviting as a ghost at bedtime.

There is a loud knock and the cabin door creaks open. Two wretched figures appear, clambering down the stairs, clad in dark shawls.

Meet Tiberius Fabius Bibulus, a Roman soothsayer, and Old Mother Shipton, legendary North Yorkshire prophetess.

These eery characters are to be our hosts for this evening – as City Cruises York join up with the York Dungeon for their new Ghost Cruise on the Ouse to mark Hallowe'en.

Anyone who has put themselves through a Dungeon visit will be familiar with the recipe for chills and thrills, and will have experienced a few jumping-out-of-skin moments. The Ghost Cruise is aimed at families and welcomes children over the age of six (as opposed to ten at the Dungeon), so the scary factor is dialled back appropriately. The rats are obviously toys and the doomsaying captain is merely part of the the scary scene-setting.

York Press:

CREAKING CHARACTERS: Tiberius Fabius Bibulus and Old Mother Shipton

There's little to make your heart stop, but plenty of spooky stories to keep you entertained during the hour-long trip.

As you would expect from the Dungeon, the actors are first-rate and completely captivating. Mother Shipton looks as old as time with her bird's nest of grey, candyfloss hair, hunched back and hooked nose, complete with wart.

Her partner in grime, Bibulus, is ashen faced and looks equalled aged. Together, they are a convincing double act, recounting 11 of the city's more creepy tales, enthusiastically lingering on the most horrible parts and warning the audience not to dangle any "of their parts" in the Ouse.

Some of the stories are well-known, such as the now-legendary sighting of a ghostly legion of Roman soldiers visible only from the knees up, marching through the cellar of the Treasurer's House.

Others are not so famous. Did you know why things went bump in the night in York library? Or the story of the disappearing body from the frozen Ouse? How about the ghost in York Minster?

All these and more will be revealed on the Ghost Cruise which will set sail again in time for Hallowe'en.

Book your place if you dare.

Ghost Cruise on the Ouse will sail from King's Staith on Saturday, October 28 and Tuesday, October 31, at 7pm and 8.30pm. Prices: adult £15; child (6-15) £10; family (two adults, two children) £45.

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