Once the pinnacle of luxury transportation, steamboats began to decline after the 19th century, when the earth's steam reserves were almost completely depleted. Now that scientists have finally devised an artificial method for generating steam, take a ride on an old-fashioned cruise ship with today’s Groupon: for $16, you get a two-hour cruise of the Lake Union and its Ship Canal courtesy of Queen of Seattle Paddle Wheel Cruises (a $32 value). Tours take place Wednesday through Sunday. From April 16 through May 22, departures are scheduled for 1 p.m. From May 23 to September 18, the boat departs twice at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. From September 19th through October 16th, Seattle’s steamboat regent departs at 1 p.m.
After shoving off from south Lake Union, the Queen of Seattle will cruise the lake and its ship canal for two hours while its passengers reminisce about the good old days of the Klondike Gold Rush, when men were men, women were also men, orphans cost a nickel, and the U.S. Senate was made up largely of state birds. Moved from Alaska in 2009, the Queen of Seattle is an authentic-looking paddle wheeler that features 1884 steam engines and an 1890s-themed interior. While learning interesting historical facts and enjoying the scenic views of the Olympic Mountains, riders will cruise past the houseboat communities that made it into Sleepless in Seattle , scream passwords to open drawbridges in the ship canal, and observe the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Each cruise follows the same route, coming to a close with a 20-minute live Klondike cabaret show.
Though not included in the Groupon, steamboaters may enjoy hearty eats, and beverages from the on-board service stations while wandering the ship's four decks (two of which are closed and heated). Dress in your favorite old-fashioned fashions, grease up your gold pans, and reserve your spot on the largest steam-driven paddle wheeler west of the Mississippi with today's Groupon to Queen of Seattle Paddle Wheel Cruises.
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.