How the magic happens: Bringing the North Pole to Coeur d’Alene

Getting Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves from the North Pole to Lake Coeur d’Alene for our Holiday Light Cruises can be tricky, logistically. After all, it is the busiest time of the year for Santa Claus, as he and the elves make toys for all the good girls and boys of the world.

So instead of asking Santa to take time out of his busy schedule, we bring children to the North Pole for a quick meet-and-greet with the Head Elf himself.

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes magic that goes into the annual Journey to the North Pole Cruises. Each year, the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre uses its influence with Mr. Claus to bring the North Pole to life. We sat down with the summer theatre’s artistic director Jadd Davis for a couple quick questions about how the winter magic happens.

Question: How long has CST been involved in the Journey to the North Pole cruises?
Jadd Davis: The Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre began recruiting the entertainment aspects of the Holiday Light Show in 2016, so we’re on our second year. It made sense for CST to collaborate with CDA Lake Cruises as The Resort was needing some good talent and we are always looking for ways to keep our pros working locally.

Q: How do Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves prepare for their roles?
Davis: So. Much. Egg nog.

Q: How are actors chosen?
Davis: Actors are recruited throughout the year. Every person wearing a costume — such as the elves, the Grinch and Santa — is brought in and trained by Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre. The casting requirements: 1) Must love Christmas. 2) Must love children. 3) Must be willing to make believe all night!

Q: Tell us a little about the “behind the scenes” magic that happens!
Davis: We need to be careful not to reveal trade secrets! That said, the number one goal of the journey is to make sure Santa knows who all the kids are who are visiting him! With the billions of kids out there, he needs some administrative assistance to help keep him organized. That’s where the elves come in! Elves surreptitiously greet every family who takes the cruise and make sure all the names of the children are magically delivered to Santa. We utilize all the technology at our disposal to make sure no good child is left off the list!

Are you looking to experience the magic for yourself? Schedule your tickets for the Journey to the North Pole cruises, going on through the end of the month. Contact us today for more information!

A brief history: Steamer ships on Lake Coeur d’Alene

Steam ships play an important role in the rich history of Coeur d’Alene — and Idaho! These ships were used for logging, mining, passenger travel and even mail delivery. The steamer ships of the 1800s and early 1900s eventually gave way to the ships that Coeur d’Alene Cruises uses to take passengers out to see wildlife, holiday lights, and sunsets.
While the list of famous steamer ships on Lake Coeur d’Alene is long and illustrious, here’s a quick peak into our rich history with a few of the most famous ships:

The Amelia Wheaton:
This was one of the first steamboats on the lake, built in 1888. The boat was used to supply Fort Sherman with supplies and transport prospectors to the golf fields after the gold rush. The steamer ran mostly on local wood.

The Georgie Oaks:
This boat was in commission from 1881 to 1920 on Lake Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding water ways. The Georgie Oaks was 150 feet long, 24 feet wide and could carry up to 1,000 passengers.

This 65-passenger ship was built for Lake Coeur d’Alene in 1926, and captained by its owner Capt. John Finney. It was 63 feet long, 9 feet wide and started with a gas engine, and was eventually transferred to a diesel engine. The Seeweewana was eventually sunk in the 1980s in front of The Coeur d’Alene Resort’s boardwalk in about 85 feet of water, a common practice to retire boats at the time. It is now a destination for scuba divers who want to see the relic.

The Mish-an-nock:
It has been nearly 50 years since this famous boat first took to the waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Named for a word that means “morning star” according to a Kalispell Tribe book, the Mish-an-nock was the first passenger cruise boat on the lake in nearly 30 years. Before that, the last steam passenger boats — the 130-foot Flyer and the 90-foot Clipper — were deemed unsafe and dismantles in 1938. When built, the Mish-an-nock was 65 feet long.

In 1996, the Mish-an-nock was refinished by Fred Finney, who also built cruise boats including The Coeur d’Alene, The Spirit of Coeur d’Alene, The Osprey and Kootenai. The boat is now 107 feet long to accommodate even more passengers.
Which boat in our fleet is your favorite? Join us for a cruise to hear more about the history and to see the beautiful sights of North Idaho!

How did The Resort come to be?

The Coeur d’Alene Resort is one of the most iconic structures in the Northwest. The tower on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s blue waters, surrounded by Idaho’s famous mountains, is a sight that many associate with great memories — cruising on the water, strolling through downtown or watching thousands of Christmas lights come to life.

The Coeur d’Alene Resort has been a staple for downtown Coeur d’Alene for decades. Before becoming the icon it is today, it came from humble roots.

The North Shore Resort opened in the same location in 1965, and the seven-story tower was completed in 1973. Just 10 years later, Hagadone Hospitality took over the structure, improving the structure and dubbing it “The Coeur d’Alene: A Resort on the Lake.”

A newly renovated resort opened in May 1986. It was 18 stories tall, with 338 guest rooms. The building, called the Lake Tower, housed Hagadone Hospitality, which later became the Hagadone Corporation.

When the doors opened in 1986, an article ran in Forbes magazine under the headline: “Duane Hagadone has built himself a fancy resort in the middle of nowhere. Why?”

However, today, it is easy to see how Duane Hagadone’s vision manifested: with towering mountains, lush forests and a glimmering lake, Coeur d’Alene is a destination for tourists, travelers and business people alike. From families riding bikes down the Centennial Trail to convention-goers squeezing in a round of golf on the famous Floating Green, the Coeur d’Alene Resort has attracted all kinds of people. Even locals are known to frequent Dockside Restaurant for a famous Gooey dessert.

The Hagadone Corporation also introduced Coeur d’Alene Cruises, which gives visitors a one-of-a-kind tour of the lake, including everything from wildlife and scenic sails, to the annual Holiday Light Show tour.

Are you ready to schedule your next sail? Give us a call today!

History of Coeur d’Alene Cruises through the decades

Through all four seasons, all types of weather and so many different excursions, Coeur d’Alene Cruises has exactly what you need to see the historic Lake Coeur d’Alene. But did you know Coeur d’Alene Cruises has its own unique history that dates back decades?

Since 1932, Coeur d’Alene Cruises has been touring the lake in style. The Finney family founded the business, when the first tour set sail on the lake nearly 90 years ago. All of the boats in our fleet were designed, constructed or remodeled locally by Finney Boat Works.

The Finney family even helped captain the fleet, with Fred Finney one of the most recent captains.

Today, Carl Fus serves as our director of operations and captains our fleet.

As a graduate of Lewis-Clark State College, Fus holds a United States Coast Guard Master’s License. He has been with Hagadone Marine Group for more than 25, originally serving as a cruise boat captain when he first joined the fleet.

Today, Fus oversees all aspects of Coeur d’Alene Cruises.

With such a rich history, and such a bright future ahead of us, Coeur d’Alene Cruises has everything you need to learn about and enjoy an afternoon or evening on our beautiful north Idaho lake.

Contact us today to set up your next cruise!

The boating history of Lake Coeur d’Alene dates back more than a century!

Traveling Lake Coeur d’Alene by boat is not a new concept. For more than a century, people have been using the beautiful north Idaho lake for work and for play. The mountain lake is steeped in a rich history that many of those who tour the lake by boat today may not know about!

While many of the boats on the lake today are for recreation — enjoying the eagles or catching a sunset — that wasn’t always the case. At one time, 100 years ago, there were more than 50 steamships working on the lake

The Amelia Wheaton was the first steamboat on Lake Coeur d’Alene, built for military use.

Shortly after, the Idaho was built — the largest steamer of the era! The passenger boat could carry up to 1,000 people, which was quite a feat for the time.

As more modern modes of transportation arrived, the steamers became obsolete. Instead, these were used as excursion boats to transport passengers around the lake.

Lumber and silver ore were transported using boats on thoroughfares like the Coeur d’Alene River. The products came from places like Spokane, Cataldo Landing, and Rathdrum, all transported by boat on local waterways. 

As time passed, many of the mills and mines have closed. Instead, trains brought tourists to the beautiful northwest to take in the lakes and mountains.

Now, Lake Coeur d’Alene is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Coeur d’Alene Cruises is here to help you see the lake first hand, and experience all the rich history our area has to offer.

Contact us today to set up your next tour

Holiday Light Cruises Are Fun For The Whole Family

One of the biggest attractions in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is the Holiday Light Show. From the scenes and pictures that adorn the famous floating boardwalk to the show at Santa’s workshop, the annual lightshow is a must-see for anyone in north Idaho during the holiday season. And there’s only one way to get a full view of the whole show: with a cruise on one of Coeur d’Alene’s signature ships

The 40 minutes journey cruises across the lake takes in the beautiful sights of the region, and ends in the most magical place of all — the North Pole! Santa, Mrs. Clause and all the elves are excited to greet the guests. The group even sends a special shout-out to the children on board! Children under five years old ride free to experience the magic.

Another special our team offers is our Holiday Lighting Ceremony cruise. The light show has been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America as one of the nation’s best holiday destinations, and the best view is from the water. Tickets are limited each year, so if you want a new, exciting view of the fireworks, caroling, and lighting celebration, give us a call in advance.

For more information or to purchase your tickets, contact us today.

Sit back and relax on one of our Spokane River cruises

Welcome aboard one of the Northwest’s best summer attractions! At Coeur d’Alene Cruises, we do everything in our power to ensure our patrons receive the best possible cruising experience, stopping just short of controlling the weather to supply north Idaho with even more sunny summer days!

That’s why we’ve extended our cruises across the northwest. Our patrons can now tour the Spokane River on one of two weekly cruises.

The cruises host everything that our daily cruises offers, but in a new, exciting setting. Explore the unique landscape of the northwest along the river. The tour offers the chance to see wildlife such as native birds, water animals and even larger land animals like deer, elk and even the occasional black bear!

Our boats have comfortable indoor and outdoor areas, an experienced captain and a friendly crew to ensure your voyage is one of the best you’ve ever had.   For an additional $13 guests can also enjoy a delicious lunch.

Whether you’re looking for a family experience or someplace new to take a date, check out our Spokane River Cruises.

Cruises start every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. throughout the summer, and run until 2 p.m.

For more questions or to buy your ticket, contact our helpful staff today!

And don’t worry; we’re working on that controlling the weather thing. We think 2015 will be the best summer yet!

Top safety tips for any kind of boating in the northwest

With summer just around the corner, we know that every excited boater in the northwest is starting to summerize their vessel, and get ready for spring cruises. We’re excited for the warm days, priceless sunsets over Lake Coeur d’Alene, and endless cruising around our north Idaho slice of heaven!

Even though we’re all excited, keep in mind that safety should always come first, whether you’re cruising with us at Coeur d’Alene Cruises or on your own around one of the many lakes in the northwest.

We’ve compiled some quick tips to help you stay safe this summer:

  1. Be weather-wise
    If you’re hoping on your own boat or coming to cruise with us, always check weather reports first. We have a saying here in the northwest- if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. And it’s true! Sometimes, spring and falls weather can change several times a day, going from sun to rain to even hail. Make sure that you pack rain jackets, non-slip gloves and hats just in case the weather turns sour, and always keep an eye on the sky for when you need to turn back to the marina, or go inside our cabin to enjoy one of our many specialty drinks!
  2. Follow all designated safety laws and posted signs
    We all known that the safety brief is one of the most boring trips of the cruise. You want to get out on the water, see the eagles, or soak up some rays! However, safety is the most important part of the journey. It is always wise to know where lifejackets are and what emergency procedure is, just in case. Our crew is trained in any and every type of emergency situation, and we’ll take care of you no matter what.
  3. Use common sense
    Staying safe doesn’t have to be a chore. If you think things through, and know the safety procedure, you’ll be sure to have a wonderful adventure that you won’t soon forget!

So whether you’re sailing with us on a specialty cruise or taking a sunset sail, you’re in good hands! Contact us today to set up your next voyage!

Best Times for Bird Watching on the St. Joe River

Whether you’re an avid bird-watcher or a novice, you’ll love our St. Joe cruises, perfect for spotting some of north Idaho’s most beautiful species. This spring, book your Coeur d’Alene cruise, and embark on an adventure in your own backyard! April through June are the best months to go, and you can often see the Osprey nesting on the pillars down the river.

The St. Joe Cruise runs every Sunday’s from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a lunch of local delights served part-way through.

We are also starting a new cruise this June up the Spokane River, due to popular demand! This cruise will be a three hour tour every Tuesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

These cruises are the best way to enjoy the local environment while seeing something new and exciting. Contact the cruise office today to schedule your next adventure!