Hornblower Cruise sells Lake Tahoe interests to M.S. Dixie’s company | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hornblower Cruise sells Lake Tahoe interests to M.S. Dixie’s company

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Lake Tahoe will add a new spin to Labor Day involving a sibling rivalry spanning two states.

Aramark Corporation, the operator of the M.S. Dixie II paddlewheeler and Zephyr Cove Resort, announced the close of a deal Friday to buy Hornblower’s Lake Tahoe Cruises.

The transaction includes the Tahoe Queen, Princess, Paradise and Meteor. The price was undisclosed.

For four years, the Queen and Dixie have waged a fierce competitive rivalry, including the Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race, a six-mile course, that will be held Aug. 31.

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Last year, a playful sabotage allowed the Queen to win by a few seconds when Hornblower’s high-speed Meteor cut off the Dixie — pirate style.

The Philadelphia-based parent company plans to continue the entire five-boat fleet’s operations, schedules, pricing and staffing, said Chuck Shapiro, general manager of the resort and the Dixie.

“We look forward to working with them,” Shapiro said. “They have a good reputation.”

San Francisco-based Hornblower Cruises has owned the Lake Tahoe Cruises since 1997. It plans to retain its operations in the Bay Area, San Diego, Newport Beach and Marina del Rey.

“Hornblower has been big in the Bay Area and Southern California, with a lot going on with those particular ports,” Lake Tahoe Cruise’s General Manager Carol Chaplin said.

The company wants to concentrate on coastal operations during “challenging” economic times, she added.

“Aramark is not afraid to try new products,” Chaplin said. “That’s good for us because we’ve always been creative.”

The boat-transit concessionaire, docked at Ski Run Marina, demonstrated its creativity with the recent addition of the Meteor, a modern-day namesake of the lake’s logging steamer.

The Meteor operated ski shuttles between the lake’s north and south shores last winter. Through the summer, it will transport cyclists.

“We’re excited to join the team. This opportunity presented itself at the right time,” Chaplin said.

The deal was announced after the market closed Friday. Aramark’s stock opened at $25.15 a share and ended at 15 cents less.

Aramark Corp., a hospitality company that went public a year ago, also agreed last week to buy an arm of Hilton Hotels Corp. The $9 billion company made “Fortune” magazine’s Top 50 of “most admired companies in America.” It employs 200,000 employees in 17 countries.

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