Vegas Oasis

Clients can take a glitter break on a Lake Mead cruise

By: John Courtmanche

Visitors to Las Vegas who become overwhelmed by all the man-made spectacles can escape the city and experience, well ... yet more man-made spectacles in the form of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, the United States’ largest reservoir and concrete arch dam, respectively. And there’s no better way to see these engineering marvels than from water level, on a Mississippi-style paddle-wheel cruise operated by Lake Mead Cruises.

Located about 25 miles east of Las Vegas (roughly a 40-minute drive), Lake Mead Cruises offers stunning views of the dam, the lake at its base and the beautiful desert scenery and wildlife that surround them. “Most visitors don’t realize just how big the lake is until they’re on it,” said Larry Hogan, the cruise’s general manager.

Lake Mead Cruises has operated a National Park Service concession since 1987 and is the only licensed water-tour provider in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. According to Hogan, summer is high season, when many Las Vegas tourists escape the city heat on a paddle-wheeler. “It’s actually hotter out here than in the city, but when you’re on the water moving, it feels cooler,” he said.

In July, the temperature on the landing one day reached 121 degrees, dropping to 90 at night. “Our captain likes to joke that we get a wind chill of 94 degrees,” Hogan said. Luckily, the paddle-wheelers are equipped with a couple of air-conditioned decks.

Paddle-wheel cruises run all day, seven days a week, except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The paddle-wheelers, the 300-passenger Desert Princess and the 149-passenger Desert Princess Too, have been hired for private parties, receptions, weddings, barbeques, corporate parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties and other such events.

Other attractions include evening dinner cruises and weekend breakfast buffet and dinner/ dance cruises.

The line offers free cruises to agents and a 25 percent commission on bookings.