Imagine floating languidly down the Wisconsin River with eagles flying overhead, turtles jumping off logs and deer peeping through the woods. That experience can come true for anyone who books a trip on the Wilderness Queen cruise boat.
This vessel has recently been purchased by Patty and Ben Zastrow, and they and their three personable daughters, Gabby, Sydney and Isabelle, all work on the boat. Tom Tiffany formerly owned this unique craft that cruises the Wisconsin River from Rhinelander to the Hat Rapids Dam.
It is a clean and well-kept vessel. There is an open upper deck with lots of chairs that allows for some beautiful sights along the river. “You wouldn’t believe the wildlife we see,” said Ben. “We’ve seen otters, beaver and lots of turtles. There’s even a pair of eagles we frequently see when we are cruising.”
There is also a bottom deck with plenty of windows, situated next to bench seats with tables. Sodas, cocktails and plenty of snacks are available at the full bar. There is also a bathroom on board and the boat is wheelchair accessible.
The Wilderness Queen is open for some kind of cruise every day of the week except on Mondays. Sightseeing cruises run almost every day. These take about an hour and 45 minutes to complete. Capt. Ben tells lots of stories along the way of the importance of this waterway to the Northwoods of Wisconsin and points out interesting features as the boat floats slowly down the river.
On certain Wednesdays throughout the summer, there is a lunch pirate cruise that is fun for the entire family. “We’ve created pirate stories we tell as we ride along,” said Patty. “We also hide chocolate coins on the boat for the kids to find.” In addition, this cruise is available with a hot dog lunch. Pizza cruises start on July 3 at 6 p.m. and are scheduled intermittently throughout the summer months, also on Wednesdays.
On Thursdays, a Family Magic Night cruise takes place with a down home chicken dinner. Zach Hext is the magician and will mesmerize the audience with his mysterious tricks. On Friday nights through August, there will be a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater cruise. Dinner includes a choice of baked haddock or champagne chicken with all the fixings. The talented actors from the Tommy O Playhouse perform a murder mystery while dinner is served.
One of the favorite cruises is the Saturday night sunset prime dinner cruise. On this voyage, passengers will enjoy a cut-to-order prime rib as the sun sets in the west and local musician Dave Dall will perform throughout the evening.
Sunday brunch cruises are also popular. These are scheduled for July 21, Aug. 18, all through the month of September and the first week of October. “To see the fall colors while eating a delicious brunch is really a great experience,” said Patty. There are also select evenings later on this summer when musicians perform on the Wilderness Queen.
In addition, this boat is available for private parties celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, rehearsal dinners, business meetings, company picnics, class reunions and even weddings. The boat can seat 90 passengers comfortably and there is special pricing for groups of 20 or more. Gift certificates are also available.
Reservations are always required for the dinner cruises, but walk-ins are welcome for the sightseeing cruises provided there is room. For more information or to make a reservation, call (715) 369-7500.