LAKE LUCERNE CRUISES
Classic Paddle Steamers and Scenic Ferry
Switzerland’s fourth largest lake is perhaps the country’s most dramatic, closely surrounded by high steep mountain slopes which plunge down to the lake edge, presenting stunning vistas from the deck of a romantic cruise paddle steamer. Formed by the River Ruess, Lake Lucerne is often shrouded by morning mists or lit by golden sun rays through drifting clouds. The cruise ships of Lake Lucerne operated by the Vier Waldstattersee company ply these beautiful waters from the city of Lucerne at one end, to Fluelen at the other. This is the route of the Wilhelm Tell Express boat and rail route, named for the legendary hero of Switzerland, but the cruisers of Lake Lucerne operate on a daily schedule of stops as a primary mode of transportation to attractions and villages which line the shores. Take a Lake Lucerne cruise boat to climb Mt Rigi on the steam cog railway, or to the Alpenachstad station for the steepest cog train up to the top of Mt Pilatus. Stop in Brunnen where Mary Shelley stopped with Percy on their Six Weeks Tour.
A whole variety of boats operate as ferry service along the lake. The first steam side paddle wheel cruiser, the Uri, was launched in 1901, and the fleet now consists of five historic paddle steamers. The Unterwalden, launched in 1902, the Schiller,, which began operation 1906 with its unique Art Nouveau galley, the Gallia in 1913, the fastest paddle driven steamer in Europe, and the line's flagship, the Stadt Luzern, the largest of the fleet, christened in 1928. Other modern diesel cruise boat fill out the fleet, passing by each other as they make their way on the route of stops at villages and towns, lined with resort hotels and hiking trails.
Lake Lucerne cruise ships operate with two classes of passengers, 1st Class on the upper decks and 2nd class on lower deck. While the seating and facilities are generally similar in both classes, second class can be a bit more crowded. The upper decks offer a high vantage view point, and first class allows you to go where you want to on the boat. Ticket prices are based on which class and on the distance traveled with hop-on hop-off privileges for the day of the ticket, so you can go to a destination along the lake, enjoy a day of activity and return. 2nd Class tickets are half the price of 1st Class. There are multiple day tickets as well for longer stays.
The Lake Lucerne cruise boats can be taken with a Swiss Pass or Eurail Pass for no extra charge, with travel according to the class of the pass. Meals on board are extra, unless traveling with a Wilhelm Tell Express package supplement, or on one of several available theme lunch or dinner cruise packages. A local pass the Tell-Pass offers travel on trains and lake boats around Lake Lucerne for multiple days with a 50% discount of the private cog railways and aerial cable cars. The Swiss Half Fare Card from the SBB Swiss Railways offers travel at half price, these can be purchased at any Swiss Railway Station.
Find the best travel and hotel deals in Lucerne on TripAdvisor
More on Switzerland By Rail:
Blanc - St Bernard
Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn
Lauvaux Wine Train
Lake Thun & Brienz
Scenic Switzerland By Train
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