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Scenic Lake Tours on the Bodensee

Ferry on Bodensee Lake ConstanceLake Constance (Constanz) is Switzerland’s second largest lake, called Bodensee in German, and lies on the northern border between Germany, Switzerland’s Thurgau Canton and Schaffhausen area, referred to as Eastern Switzerland, and a small strip of Austria on the eastern end at Bregenz. The lake is formed by the Rhine River which flows from the southern Alps, before heading toward the North Sea. The lake is made of a larger area called the Obersee and the narrow portion on the western end, the Untersee, where the river empties across the Rheinfalls at Schaffhausen. There are a number of cruise companies operating tourist, ferry, and theme cruise boats on the lake, divided between the two seas and three countries.

Schaffhausen and Untersee

Schaffhausen Munot  Rhine DockAt Schaffhausen, the Untersee and Rhine Ship (Schifffahrt Untersee und Rhein) company operates a small fleet of modern cruise boats and ferry service along the Untersee from docks below the Schaffhausen castle, to port stops at the ancient village of Stein am Rhein, the Island of Reichenau, and Constance-Kreuzlingen. From Schaffhausen, bus service runs to the waterfalls of the Rhine, Europe’s version of Niagara Falls. Scheduled service operates from April to October. Cruise durations for the full route: Schaffhausen to Kreuzlingen 4 ½ hours, Kreuzlingen, Schaffhausen 3 ½ hours. Train lines run along the Swiss shore so it is easy to combine a cruise with rail. Swiss Passes are good for travel on the boats and the Rheinfalls bus service. Schaffhausen Untersee

Lake Constance Cruises from Romanshorn and Rorschach

St Gallen Cruise Boat and Ferry at RomanshornBoth theme and scenic tour cruises, as well as ferry service depart from the Lake Constance shore ports of Romanshorn and Rorschach on the Swiss side. Ferries cross to Friedrichshafen and Lindau on the German side. The largest lake cruise company on Lake Constance from the Switzerland side, the Swiss Lake Constance Shipping Co. (Bodeneeschifffarht), was once owned by the SBB Swiss National Railway but is now in private hands. Operating for 150 years, begun as a ferry service across the lake from where the railway from Lucerne (now the Pre-Alpine Express route) and from Winterthur, terminated at Romanshorn, the Swiss shipping company operates a number of cruise ships on the lake, from both Romanshorn and Rorschach. The ferries once carried heavy cargo across the lake from the rail lines, but now essentially the service operates as a tourist line and person vehicles ferry.

Public Day Tour Cruises calling on ports along both shores of the Lake cost from CHF 6 to CHF 51, depending on the distance traveled, with stops at Rorschach, Horn, Langenargen, Arbon, Romanshorn, Uttwil, Altnau Bottighofen, Kreuzlingen, Insel Mainau, Unteruhldingen, and Meersburg. No reservations are needed for the day cruise schedule. A variety of specialized theme and dining tourist cruises are offered throughout the year, Fondue Cruises, Sea Shanty Cruises, Whiskey and Wine Cruises, Appenzell Menu, Easter Brunch, Bregenz Festival, among others. Individual or group tickets and reservations are necessary for the theme cruises. Prices for the theme or dining cruises vary, but generally from CHF 35 up to CHF 55 for meal cruises (CHF 75 for a 4 course Murder Mystery–Dinner cruise), children to 16 are half price.

The fleet of the SwissSchifffahrt is made up of modern diesel engine ships. Stationed at Romanshorn, the company sails tourist cruise ships MS St Gallen, MS Thurgau, MS Zurichand, MS Säntis, and two ferry boats, the MF Euregia and MF Romanshorn, From the port at Rorschach, smaller boats operate – the MS Rhynegg, MS Rhyspitz , MS Alte Rhy. The ferry from Romanshorn to Friedrichshafen departs every hour and takes 45 minutes to cross the lake. A return ferry ticket costs CHF 20 for an adult. Children’s half-fare family cards are valid.

Steamer Ship Hohentwiel

Steam Ship Yacht Hoentwiel Lake ConstanzThe paddle wheel steam ship Hohentwiel, once the Royal State Steam Yacht of Wilhelm II, the last king of Wurttemburg, now cruises Lake Constance as a tourist tour ship, offering dinner and sight-seeing cruises, departing from Bregenz. Launched in 1913, just a year before the beginning of World War I, which brought monarchies to a rather abrupt end, the ship is an elegant sight from days gone by, called by some the most beautiful historic paddle wheel steamer in continental Europe, with its white awning, polished brass and mahogany, cherry wood and teak trim. The Hohentwiel Steamer which made an appearance in the recent James Bond film, “Quantum of Solace” operates from the end of April to Mid-October and offers a variety of day tours and theme cruises including Dixieland Jazz, Lunch cruises, Captain’s Dinner, English Tea Cruises, and available for Wedding Charters. Hohentwiel

Other cruise lines operating on Lake Constance are the Austrian Voralberg Lines from Bregenz and Rorschach, and the BSB Leisure Fleet visiting mostly German side ports with connections at Romanshorn, Gottleben, and Ermatingen, with rail connection from Schaffhausen to Radoffzell. Rail service to lake Constance Cruises runs on the Thurbo Regional Line


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