If you're like me, as the end of summer draws near, you will be trying to pack in as much time outdoors as possible. One way to do this would be to take your next meeting, event, or gathering to the water. In the Location Location section of our summer issue, we featured companies whose vessels offer this type of unique venue. From Stillwater to Duluth and points between, here are the many locations and vessels you have to choose from.
Paradise Charter Cruises
Serving two popular waterways, Paradise Charter Cruises has a vessel to suite almost any group's needs. Depart from Boom Island in Minneapolis and travel on the Mississippi River past the city's skyline, Stone Arch Bridge, the University of Minnesota campus and through the Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam. If you'd prefer to see the cottages and mansions that dot Lake Minnetonka's landscape, take a cruise out of the ports of Excelsior or Wayzata. All vessels offer full food and beverage services as well as audiovisual components.
Fleet Capacity: Minneapolis Queen: 125 total; Paradise Lady: 145 total; Paradise Destiny II: 100 total; Paradise Grand: 60 total; Paradise Princess II: 60 total
Docked at Harriet Island in St. Paul, Padelford Riverboats offers a fleet of vessels to take guests on the Mississippi River. Each venue offers indoor and outdoor seating, catering services, professional charter consultants and audiovisual equipment. The upriver route is narrated by a tour guide and will take you past sites such as Fort Snelling, Pike Island, Pig's Eye Cave and Minnehaha Falls. For a more unique experience, take in a showing of The Vampire, performed by the University of Minnesota Showboat Players on the stationary Minnesota Centennial Showboat.
Fleet Capacity: Jonathan Padelford: 160 total, 114 (dining room); Anson Northrop: 300 total, 224 (dining room); Betsey Northrop: 300 total, 176 (dining room); Minnesota Centennial Showboat: 500 total, 100 (dining seating)
Explore the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth aboard a Vista Fleet Harbor Cruise. The vessels will take you around the harbor, under the Aerial Lift Bridge and up to the St. Louis River. The company offers both public and private cruises, as well as daily sightseeing tours. Each of the vessels has audiovisual capabilities, including LCD TV monitors, wireless microphones and computer or monitor hookups.
Fleet Capacity: Vista Star: 60 (reception); Vista Queen: 250 (reception)
St. Croix Boat and Packet Company
With a luxury yacht and several paddleboats in its fleet, St. Croix Boat and Packet Company offers a number of ways to see the St. Croix River in Stillwater. Depending on bridge lifts and water levels, tours will take you either north or south on the river, spending approximately 2.5 to 3 hours on the water. Catering services are available on all excursions, in addition to lunch, brunch, dinner and Saturday night feast cruises.
Fleet Capacity: Majestic Star: 300 total; Avalon: 675 total; Express: 225 total; Showboat: 150 total; Jubilee II: 150 total; Anastasia: 75 total
Treasure Island Resort and Casino
Besides card games and slots at its casino, Treasure Island Resort and Casino offers its own vessel for exploring the Mississippi River. Public cruises run for dinner daily, with lunch cruises offered Wednesday through Saturday and brunch cruises on Sunday. Also available for private charters, the yacht can be rented in full or part. The captain will adjust your tour depending on preferences, river traffic, and desire to learn about the area.
Fleet Capacity: Spirit of the Water: 100 total
-- Molly Schelper
[Photo courtsey of Paradise Charter Cruises]