The iconic mail boat tour, Lake Geneva, Wi., posted the best passenger season ever, stamping out all other records since the tours began 99 years ago.
Harold Friestad, general manager of the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, a division of Gage Marine, said the daily tour, from June 15-September 15 attracted approximately 11,525 passengers, who watched mail jumpers deliver letters, packages, magazines and newspapers to 56 mail boxes on residential piers along the lakeshore. The boat never stops, requiring the mail jumper to leap off the front of the boat and (hopefully) hop back on the back before the mail boat passes the dock.
Friestad attributes much of the increase as a result of national coverage on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. NBC correspondent Stephanie Gosk reported from the bow of the boat, and tried a jump. Also, an Associated Press story went national in both print and electronic media.
Friestad said charter tours increased by 16 per cent, mainly due to social events surrounding weddings, including vows on the boat, receptions, bachelor and bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners. Lake Geneva Cruise Line partners with The Riviera Ballroom, just a few pier steps away, to offer a variety of party opportunities, as well as Walworth County restaurants and resorts to provide charter options for business outings and celebrations.
Boat tours to historic Black Point Estate were way up, with the 2013 season coming in as the best year since the initial tours started five years ago. Friestad credits the success to media exposure as well as the increased involvement of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, owners of Black Point Estate. David Desimone, the new Black Point Estate director, developed innovative tour themes, to increase attendance among people who have already visited one of the few Victorian-style summer estates in the country.
The cruise line’s popular Passport, similar to a Frequent Flyer program, also increased with a total of 800 members who, for $74.95 a year, can experience tours on all five passenger boat as often as they wish, with many options and discounts for their guests as well as food and specialty tours. Friestad said some Passport holders enjoyed boat rides a couple of times a week from late-March through mid-November.
For 2014 Passport information and cruise updates: www.cruiselakegeneva.com