Lake Geneva Cruise Line: Moves portable year-round lake office from pier at Williams Bay to Riviera Docks

Boat tours start April 11

A sure sign of spring is the April day when the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, tows their portable year-round office from their pier side winter location in Williams Bay to the Riviera Docks in Lake Geneva, seven miles away. As soon as the lake ice thaws, the Lady of the Lake passenger boat tows the office-on-water to the docks in Lake Geneva and the passenger boat tourist season officially begins. Public tours start April 11 with prices reduced by $10, all weekend. The expanded bay tour (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and noon-1:30 p.m.) and the ice cream social (3 to 4:15 p.m.) launch the season with the same schedule April 18-19 at regular rates.

Harold Friestad, general manager, said the move, which takes about three hours, was seamless.” We unplugged phones and the Internet, and were at Lake Geneva Riviera dock up and running in less than three hours earlier this week. We love working on the beautiful waters of Lake Geneva year round. We’ve got ducks, geese and eagles right out our office windows and the views of the lake are always changing.”

From November through March, the office sits alongside the dock of the bay and stays open all winter at Pier 290 in Williams Bay. Pumps on the bottom of the lake, on timers, operate a few hours at night, when needed, to circulate water up from the bottom to avoid ice damaging the office as well as hibernating tour boats.

The office boat, built in Lacrosse, is 80 feet long and 18 feet wide, the largest size allowed to travel on the highway down to Lake Geneva. Although the boat has no engines, she is still registered and licensed as a boat.

During winter, four or five people work in the pier side office and in summer, the number swells to 12 employees and 14 computer stations. The boat office blends in with the passenger boats that also dock at the Riviera in between offering multiple tours a day.

Motion sickness isn’t a problem in the winter boat quarters in Williams Bay because the hills to the west protect the boat from wind and storms. In Lake Geneva, the office can get rather rocky at times, Friestad said, but the staff is used to it.

“Customers who come on board sometimes get vertigo and we have to remind them we are on a boat. Even a gentle movement throws some people off because they don’t expect it in an office setting. They’ve forgotten that they stepped into the office from the dock. Repair people who work on our computers and printers can have a real issue with looking at the equipment when the boat is rocking.”

Three years ago when Gage Marine expanded office space and built a lakeside restaurant, Pier 290, the Lake Geneva Cruise Line had the option to move inside the new quarters.

“We preferred not to rock the boat,” Friestad said “We like working out here on the water, year-round. Besides, how many business have it written in their employee handbook that, in winter, the first employee that gets to work is in charge of shoveling and de-icing—the pier?”.

For spring rates and schedules to go