3 reasons an eagle watching cruises is the perfect family activity

Every year, hundreds of bald eagles return to Lake Coeur d’Alene during their annual migration. During December and January, these majestic creatures gather at the north end of the lake to feed on lake-bound salmon. It’s nearly impossible to miss seeing these birds — they’re everywhere! For about eight weeks, the eagles are hunting, nesting and soaring around the area, and we have a cruise that takes you to the best places to see eagles.

With our daily Eagle Watching Cruises, you can get an up close with the country’s bird. Here are three reasons why an Eagle Watching Cruise is the perfect activity this holiday season.

  1. Great activity for family
    During the holiday season, many Coeur d’Alene residents have family visiting. Instead of sitting around the house, join us on the water for an Eagle Watching Cruise! The two-hour cruise is a great opportunity to see the beauty of North Idaho from a unique perspective, and cruises are exciting for people of all ages.
  2. Learning experience for kids
    During the Eagle Watching Cruises, our crews will talk about why the eagles are here, what they feed on and more about their importance to North Idaho. This is a great opportunity for kids to keep learning, even while they’re out of school on winter break!
Also during this time of year, we offer specialty charter rates for schools who want to take students out to learn about the local ecosystem first hand! Contact us today for more information.
  3. Get some fresh air!
    It’s easy to stay inside during the chillier winter months, but take this opportunity to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The cabins of our cruise boats are heated and our galley serves lots of tasty treats, so you can pop inside and warm up periodically throughout the trip.

Are you ready to join us on the water for one of the most spectacular wildlife viewing excursions in the Northwest? Contact us to schedule your cruise!

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.

Seeweewana:
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 feed 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!

Under the surface: A history of sunken steamer ships

Every day, Coeur d’Alene Cruises boats take people on tours of the lake and local rivers. Our ships cover thousands of miles atop the water each year as we help people see the shoreline and wildlife of North Idaho.

But have you ever wondered what’s below the surface?

Lake Coeur d’Alene has many sunken ships below the surface. Steamships were used in the 1800s to transport people, mining equipment and logs during the timber boom. The lake was a hub of activity, with the big steam-powered ships running back and forth across the surface. However, when the ships were worn out, mining and logging companies sunk the ships to quickly get rid of them.

One popular dive site with more than five steamship wrecks is off Steven’s Point. Many ships were sunk when they were no longer needed, and ended up near the shoreline. Check with local dive companies for more information about scuba diving this site.

Many shipwrecks are also located off Independence Point. After the ships were rendered useless after years of service, they were stripped of all useful parts and used as docks for those lighting off fireworks during Fourth of July festivities. Many of the discarded ships are still intact, and scuba divers visit the ships, between about 40 feet and 60 feet deep, to see a bit of Coeur d’Alene history preserved.

Because of its rich history, there are even rumors of sunken treasure!

Legend has it, in the late 1880s, more than 150 tons of silver ore spilled off a barge at McDonald Point and sunk to the bottom of Lake Coeur d’Alene. If the myths are fact, the mass of silver could be worth up to $75,000 today. There’s no way to know if it’s true, but local scuba divers always keep their eyes peeled, just in case.

What have you found while diving in Lake Coeur d’Alene — any sunken treasure or favorite sunken ship scuba dive sites? Let us know!

Bands on Boats

Looking for things to do in Coeur d’Alene this summer? Or are you trying to decide the best place to see your favorite band? Grab your ticket for the Bands on Boats summer concert series at Coeur d’Alene Cruises.

The concert series features four of the Northwest’s biggest groups — Kelly Hughes Band, Ryan Larsen Band, The Rhythm Dawgs and The Rub — while you cruise on scenic Lake Coeur d’Alene.

This series, sponsored by Deep Eddy Vodka, offers four shows throughout the summer for attendees over 21 years old. It’s the perfect chance to cut a rug at an intimate venue with some of the biggest bands in the area.

Here’s what’s on the docket this year:

Thursday, July 6 – Kelly Hughes Band 
To start the summer off right, the Kelly Hughes Band will bring their unique country twang to the cruise ships. If you have guests in town for the Fourth of July week, or if you’re just looking to keep the Independence Day party going, this is the perfect event to showcase all that Coeur d’Alene has to offer — great views, catchy music and good times.

Friday, July 21- Ryan Larsen Band 
Since 2008, the Ryan Larsen Band has been bringing contemporary country music to the Northwest, and its appearance on Coeur d’Alene Cruises will be no different. A staple at many North Idaho honky-tonks, Ryan Larsen Band will have you stompin’ your boots and boogie down right away.

Thursday, August 3 – The Rhythm Dawgs 
Put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to party with Coeur d’Alene’s own Rhythm Dawgs. Expect to hear all your favorites, from ‘50s rock to today’s Top 40. The Dawgs play songs that everybody loves, so this show is great for any generation.

Thursday, August 31 – The Rub 
To cap a perfect summer of music, The Rub will finish up the set at the end of August. This is a show you won’t want to miss — The Rub is known for its zany 70s songs, crazy style and performances.

These shows will go fast, so don’t wait to buy tickets — just $25 per show, or get a four-concert pass for $80. Get tickets here or call our office at (208) 292-5670.

Hit the water to see the wildlife

For locals and newcomers alike, bird watching on the St. Joe River is a perfect way to take in the little-known sights of North Idaho. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid ornithologist or a novice bird-watcher, you’ll love spotting some of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful species.

Spring is one of the best times to watch birds along the St. Joe River. Many of the winter birds have not yet left, and species that have migrated south are beginning to head back to Idaho for the warmer months. April through June, you can see a wide variety of birds — and other wildlife — as the Northwest sheds its winter coat and comes back to life.

The best way to take in the view is from the water. Coeur d’Alene Cruises offers a tour of the St. Joe River weekly, with expert guides to help you get the most out of your experience. Cruise along silently as you listen to birdcalls and watch the birds in their natural habitat. Cruisers are often able to see osprey nesting on pillars along the river and other beautiful sights.

The St. Joe Cruise runs every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a lunch made of local delights served partway through.

In June, a new cruise will hit the waters of the Spokane River. Last summer was so popular, we’re bringing it back. This cruise will be a three-hour tour every Tuesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Cruising along the water is the best way to see all of North Idaho’s wildlife in its natural habitat. Contact the cruise office today to schedule your next adventure!

Host a holiday party with style

Whether you’re looking for a place to host the annual office Secret Santa gift exchange, or trying to entertain a large family, searching for the perfect place to host a holiday party can be difficult. Many locations feel boring or played out after years of used. Instead, look for something new and exciting that’s sure to keep coworkers and in-laws alike entertained.

Take a trip across Lake Coeur d’Alene with Coeur d’Alene Cruises instead of the usual get together. Out-of-town guests will love the stunning views of mountainous North Idaho, and employees will love the beautiful setting, perfect for chatting with friends or grabbing a drink before taking in the views.

Winter months are the time for parties, large and small. A single cruise boat can accommodate a small-to-mid-sized party. Our team can tether any combination of two of our vessels together to cruise as one.

Guests can walk from one boat to the other safely throughout the cruise, and still get the great experience of cruising on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Our boats will depart the marina separately, cruise out to the open water, then tie together to float as one boat.

Forget crowded homes or going back to the office after-hours. Instead, create memories this holiday season. You can bring more than 600 guests and enjoy all the beauty Idaho has to offer this season — double the boats, double the fun!

Ready to book your Christmas work party or family gathering? Act fast; our holiday season can book up fast. Contact us today to get started.

See the Holiday Lighting Ceremony from a new location — the water

Downtown Coeur d’Alene is magical year round, but it is a real treat during the holiday season. The Friday after Thanksgiving, Coeur d’Alene goes all out with a beautiful lighting ceremony. The entire Coeur d’Alene Resort and floating boardwalk are lit up with hundreds of holiday lights, depicting different scenes: dragon, an underwater castle, and, of course, Santa Clause and all his reindeer!

To top it all off, the holiday extravaganza kicks off with a fireworks show and music before the lights are lit for the first time of the season.

If you have family in town, or are looking for a new way to view the show, try a cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Besides stunning scenery, great food, and hot drinks, the cruise offers the perfect way to see the lights. Kids will love the boat  and family members will treasure the memorable experience.

As the season goes on, you can also take children to see Santa Claus at the North Pole! Cruises sail across the lake to a beautifully lit house, where Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves come out to say hello to your boat. Who knows — your child might get a shout out from Santa, and learn if they’ve made the “nice list” this year!

Tickets are limited each year, so purchase yours today. Contact our team for any questions.

How groups are working for water conservation on Lake Coeur d’Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene is great for a summer cruise, bird watching, or entertaining out-of-town guests. Swimming in the lake is great on a hot day, and there’s no better place to take in a sunset than from the deck of a cruise ship by Coeur d’Alene Cruises. From pristine beaches and clear water to beautiful mountains, Lake Coeur d’Alene and its tributaries are the place to be in the summer.

However, the lake hasn’t always been this clean and beautiful. Early mining leaked millions of tons of mine waste into the Coeur d’Alene watershed. Today, the Silver Valley is one of the largest superfund cleanup sites in the country. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey have taken the lead in cleanup efforts during the past three decades to restore the basin and the environment.

In addition to working in the water for cleanup, the City of Coeur d’Alene is working to keep the watershed healthy. The city offers landscape conservation classes throughout the year to teach homeowners and water users best practices for conservation and environment health.

And we can all do our part to conserve water. Keep boats leak-free in the summer with regular maintenance and remember if you pack it in, pack it out.

What’s your favorite way to conserve the beautiful North Idaho environment? Do you have tips or tricks? Let us know!