Boat tours a good way to take in views at Lake Tahoe

Sara Jackson
Special to the Tribune
The M.S. Dixie II cruises out of Emerald Bay.
Provided/Aramark Destinations

Crystal clear water, endless blue skies and majestic mountains are some of the ways in which to describe the beauty of Lake Tahoe.

And the best way to see the 360 degree views is to be on the lake.

There are many ways to get on the lake including renting boats, paddle boards or kayaks.

Another way is take advantage of the commercial boats at Tahoe and let everyone do the work for you while you take in the sights.

Locals will tell you that wooden boats are a classic piece of Lake Tahoe’s history. The Golden Rose is one of those beautiful boats of yesteryear. Originally named “In the Mood,” it was built in 1953 as a Chris Craft Double FlyBridge Cruiser. When a blizzard struck the Pacific Northwest in 1996, the craft was pummeled when snow collapsed the roofs of Puget Sound Marinas. “In the Mood” sank, along with 300 other boats.

Terry Blizzard, owner of Island Mariner Cruises is credited with giving the Golden Rose a new life as a one-of-a-kind Christ Craft Vietnam Water Taxi. The Golden Rose’s new home is at the Tahoe Keys Marina in South Lake Tahoe at Rubicon Dock.

The boat will hold 28 passengers but the company likes to take 12-16 people out at a time. From the marina, the cruise follows the south-west shore into Emerald Bay, all the way to Vikingsholm Castle. Part of the allure of this cruise is that there is wine tasting aboard, along with imported and domestic cheese platters from On Board. Guests will sample eight wines from various wine regions in Northern California.

If you have fond memories of the Tahoe Queen, then the M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler is a must on your to-do list. The M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler is the largest cruising vessel in South Lake Tahoe.

Maggie Garcia-Nook, district manager of Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina, gave a brief history of the M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler, “The M.S. Dixie II was constructed in Wisconsin, transported in pieces across the country by truck, and assembled on the beach at Zephyr Cove. It was built specifically for Lake Tahoe and launched in the spring of 1994, but its lineage goes back to the original M.S. Dixie, which was brought to the lake in 1949. From 1972 to 1993, the Dixie made daily trips across the lake. The M.S. Dixie II is one of Lake Tahoe’s three paddlewheelers. The wheel in the back spans the width of the boat and churns its way through the waster, pushing the boat forward.”

The M.S. Dixie II, shown cruising in Emerald Bay, holds 500 passengers.
Provided/Aramark Destinations

Holding 500 passengers, the M.S. Dixie II has two separate cruises to choose from. Adults pay $99/person and children pay $55/person. The cruise departs from Zephyr Cove Marina and you can either choose the two hour M.S. Dixie II Emerald Bay Sightseeing Cruise, which offers photo opportunities to Emerald Bay. Or you may be interested in the Captain’s Dinner Dance Cruise, in which guests get to enjoy a four course meal, and afterward, dance the night away with music featuring hits from all eras by Safari.

If you really want to see the sights of Lake Tahoe in style, then you want to consider booking passage on the Safari Rose, the largest and most luxurious yacht on the lake, measuring 80 feet long and 20 feet wide. The yacht was built in 1959, and boasts six bathrooms, a dining room, a heated salon, a full bar, a sun deck, and a cozy fireplace for those cold nights.

Having cruised the world, from the eastern seaboard, to Canada and the Caribbean, the Safari Rose has even graced the waters of the Panama Canal, all the way to Puget Sound and Alaska. Now being used as a commercial tour boat, the Safari Rose offers three different tours.

The Emerald Bay Day Cruise offers a 2 hour cruise through Emerald Bay for views of Vikingsholm Castles, Eagle Falls and the Tea House atop Fannette Island. Here, along with the magnificent views, you can enjoy a full cocktail bar, and food.

The South Shore Sightseeing Cruise is an hour and a half, and heads to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, where the scenery includes pristine beaches, eye dropping million dollar lakefront mansions. The cruise also goes past Cave Rock, a Washoe Indian sacred site.

The Emerald Bay Sunset Cruise makes sure you have a chance to take in one of Lake Tahoe’s breathtaking sunsets over the mountains. The tour is two hours and first cruises through Emerald Bay and its usual sites before heading back out into open water.

For more information, visit or call 530-494-9222 to book aboard the Golden Rose. Appointments can also be made on their website.

For the Safari Rose, visit or call 775-588-1881.

And for the M.S. Dixie II, call 1-775-588-1881 or visit

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct contact information to get more information.

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