The Santa Cruise culminates with a visit to the “North Pole” where Santa emerges from his workshop to read the names of the children onboard. (Photo courtesy of Gage Marine)

Santa Cruise offers magical trip on Geneva Lake

It’s the time of year that lighted displays line the shores of Geneva Lake and the cruise ships Lady of the Lake and the Grande Belle are dressed in an array of multicolored lights waiting to carry children of all ages on a magical cruise to Santa’s “North Pole” hideaway.

The journey begins at Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s Winter Harbor at 1 Liechty Dr., Williams Bay, where the decorated boat will be waiting for all the children and their families to board.

Cruises depart daily (with the exception of Dec. 24 and 25). The first cruise each day is typically scheduled to depart at 4:30 p.m., but times vary depending on the day of the week.

When the boat pulls from the pier and begins the journey the attention of all the passengers is focused on the illuminated light displays along the shore as the story of the voyage to the “North Pole” begins. Through a combination of music and narration, the journey continues as the captain and crew lead the way.

The Santa Cruise is among Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s popular cruises on Geneva Lake. The idea for the Santa Cruise came from Bill Gage, owner of the cruise line, who had seen another version of the Santa Cruise while in Idaho. He realized the Santa Cruise would work well on Geneva Lake.

Warm and dry

The boats are comfortable, with an enclosed level on each boat where cruisers can stay warm and toasty as they make the journey. On the Lady of the Lake, the lower level is enclosed and heated, assuring that everyone will be warm no matter what the outdoor temperature. On The Grand Belle, it is the Upper level that is enclosed and heated.

Passengers are free to move back and forth throughout the boat – dipping into the frigid air and retreating to the heated cabin.

There are a variety of displays with several different holiday themes leading up to the North Pole.

When the boat finally reaches Santa’s little home, he appears in the doorway with his list, the one that all children worry about. Are they on the naughty or nice list? Can they expect Santa to leave them any Christmas gifts or will it be coal in their stockings?

During the trip there are also activities for children to enjoy. Hot chocolate, other beverages and some snacks are sold on the cruise as well as beverages for the parents.

The trip goes on no matter the weather and lasts for about 40 minutes, long enough to be interesting but not too long for children.

The cruise leaves at roughly 4:30 p.m. each day with three tours held during the week. On Fridays and Saturdays the boats depart hourly between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. Four departures are offered on Sundays. Check the website for times and pricing.

Dinner packages, which include a meal at Pier 290, are also available.

Special adults-only cruises are offered at 8:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It offers adults an opportunity to enjoy a Santa Cruise in the confines of a boat full of adults during the last cruise of the night. On Dec. 21 and 29 the adult cruise will feature a special Naughty or Nice Tour with John Ludy who will sing holiday songs with a little “give and take” from the crowd.

A special holiday music review is set for Dec. 6 and 16. Timeless Music Review provides the entertainment as cruisers pass the light displays on the way to and from Santa’s hideaway.

Helping a cause

Those waiting to board the cruise will have a chance to wander through the Charities of Christmas Tree Festival on site. The tree festival is the project of Santa Cause, a charitable organization that helps to support charities in Walworth County. It features artistically decorated trees, each produced by one of the charities.

Gage Marine, the parent company of the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, plans to support the cause with a donation of at least $50,000.



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