Steamboats remain a safe means of combining modern entertainment and 19th-century transportation, unlike the once popular yet devastating Oregon Trail reality TV show. Celebrate the past and present with today’s Groupon: for $19, you get one adult ticket for a two-hour Lake Union and Ship Canal cruise from Queen of Seattle Paddle Wheel Cruises (a $39 value). The ship sails April 14, 2012–May 21, 2012 at 1 p.m., May 24–September 24 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and September 27–October 22 at 1 p.m.
The Queen of Seattle transports passengers through time during Lake Union and Ship Canal cruises, stocking-stuffers for sightseers that explore Seattle’s majestic coastline while framing cultural and technological advances since the Gold Rush. In reference to the two-hour tour's starting point, shipmates dressed in 1890s garb welcome visitors aboard and illustrate how to measure the size of your soul with a tallow candle before shoving off from south Lake Union. The story of prospectors leaving the city via the Yukon River kicks off a broad narrative, whose counterpoint is a glimpse at the actual houseboat from the film Sleepless in Seattle, nestled among a community of buoyant abodes. The Olympic Mountains ascend regally and thumb their noses at the Space Needle as the boat enters Lake Washington's Ship Canal and glides past the gateway to Puget Sound, the handsome Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. During the return leg, cabaret dancers shake things up with a live show and ears perk up to the cheerful, melodic toots of steam whistles that harmonize in a steam-calliope performance.
The Queen of Seattle authentically evokes a bygone era with original 1884 steam engines and an 1890s-themed interior, her impressive girth making her one of the largest paddle wheelers west of the Mississippi. Though they are not included in the Groupon, steamboaters may purchase food and libations from the on-board service stations while wandering the ship's four decks, two of which are enclosed and heated.
Queen of Seattle Paddle Wheel Cruises
The Queen of Seattle was built in the early 1980s—about a century after the era after which she's styled. For many years the vessel transported sightseers across the Sacramento River, under the name Elizabeth Louise. She briefly relocated to Alaska before finding her home in Seattle, where she has ferried private, public, and charter passengers across Lake Union and Lake Washington Ship Canal waters. Her tours are known for blending historical narration with on-board cabaret-style entertainment.
The 275-passenger ship is a unique sight on Seattle's waterways, fully evoking the late 1800s with steam-powered rear paddles and a staff that dons period costumes. Below deck, a viewing area unveils the ancient secrets behind the boat's actual 1884 reciprocating steam engines, allowing guests to watch the mighty pistons whistle while they work or take occasional smoke breaks.