Despite flooding on the Mississippi River, Celebration Belle river cruises remain open for business.
The paddlewheel boat offers a unique view of the rising river at a time when the DNR is urging recreational boaters to stay home.
“I think we’re about the only ones out cruising, you won’t see any pleasure boats out today,” said captain and owner Scott Schadler.
Thursday night, though, only 36 people boarded the Celebration Belle for a dinner cruise. Schadler said that many people have thought excursions were cancelled due to flooding.
“Being the Fourth of July weekend, usually we’re running with 200 to 300 people on these cruises, but people are a little nervous, a little scared of the high water… but we’re still cruisin’,” said Schadler.
Schadler said there’s actually very little difference when riding during a flood. The Celebration Belle simply runs a little more slowly, and the captain keeps a close watch on the river.
“When the water’s high, you’ve got to watch for debris coming downriver, a lot of trees and logs, and you just keep an eye out for that stuff and try to avoid it,” said Schadler.
Passengers said the high waters offer a unique experience as well.
“It’s really neat. It’s beautiful. It’s kind of odd with the high water, but I think that’s making it memorable,” said Gwen Nelson, a visitor from Minnesota.
The Mississippi River is forecast to crest overnight at 20.7 feet.