Cruising Lake Tahoe: A Must-Do!

By: Carol Chaplin

This is a betting town, and I would put money on any frontline employee—hotel, restaurant, ski shop—in Lake Tahoe recommending a Lake Tahoe cruise as a must-do activity to a visitor.  There are a few to choose from, but setting sail from Zephyr Cove Resort for Emerald Bay on the M.S. Dixie II is also a sure bet.  Zephyr Cove Lodge was built in the early 1900’s as a way station between Virginia City and the booming business of mining silver in the Comstock Lode, so there’s a bit of history that precedes embarking on a two-hour cruise across the 13 mile-wide Lake.  Even before the Lodge offered repast from the High Sierra trek, the Washoe Indians summered here.  Walk the mile of sandy beach and stroll through the Douglas Pine grove to imagine what it might be like to find this place 100 years ago and set up camp.  And by the way, if you love the prospect of this setting, you may want to consider renting one of the lake-view cabins that dot the shore or tent or RV camp just across the highway.

The M.S. Dixie II was built in Wisconsin, shipped in pieces (yes, it was a bit of a squeak through the Cave Rock tunnel just a few miles away from her home port) and launched in 1994.  While she does get power from her paddles, the M.S. Dixie II also has propellers, which helps her churn a faster pace towards Emerald Bay and back and allows her to finish up to five cruises in a day, carrying over 500 passengers at full capacity.  The captain will captivate you with some fun facts and local color stories on the trip west to the mouth of the Bay and then the real oohs and aahs from the passengers take over for the narration as the truly Emerald waters of the Bay cause you to pause breathing and the site of Vikingsholm Castle take you back to what it might be like in 1920 when Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight dynamited the rocks above to build a road that would allow her to complete what is considered one of the best examples of Scandinavian architecture in North America.

M.S. Dixie II entering Emerald Bay
M.S. Dixie II entering Emerald Bay. Photo: Aramark Lake Tahoe

Snack or dine on the Dixie as there is a full galley on board.  While the day cruise is relaxing and a great mid-day break from some of the other active itineraries to choose from, the dinner dance cruise combines dramatic sunsets, a four-course dinner and some classic rock n’roll dance music that will set the pace for more late night entertainment just a few miles down the road at one of the Stateline casinos.   Indoors on the first or second decks are warm and cozy, and the third outdoor deck offers 360-degree views of Lake Tahoe, the South Shore, and the Sierra Nevada.  Not too shabby for a night on the town.  Or the boat, as the case may be.

Check out the M.S. Dixie II on Instagram

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