Ottawa, IL - The Middle of Everywhere

Attraction Spotlight: The Sainte Genevieve Riverboat

The Sainte Genevieve is a classic riverboat, but reimagined for the new, modern era. Rather than the traditional red and white paintjob, onlookers will notice her striking dark green accents. Not only can passengers admire the intricately handcrafted interior, but they can also enjoy the boat’s enclosed dining area, cocktail bar, and the open-air top deck. 

The story of the Sainte Genevieve begins in 2021, when founders Gentry & Lindsey Nordstrom and Jessica & Nathan Weiss formed the Ottawa Packet Company. While taking the riverboat from Cincinnati to Ottawa, fierce winds battered her against the rocks of the Mississippi River. She was taking on water. Luckily, she and her crew were aided by a local towboat crew, and brought to a quarry in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri.  

The original Sainte Genevieve, the patroness saint of Paris, had enemies who plotted to drown her in a lake, but their plans were foiled. Just like her namesake, the Sainte Genevieve riverboat triumphed over hardship. Her legendary origin story provides a fount of inspiration for her crew -and her passengers- to remain perseverant and resilient in the face of adversity.  

The Sainte Genevieve offers a variety of cruises for any perspective voyager. For those wanting to do some classic sightseeing, a tour with lighter narration up or down the river is available. Or for passengers who wish to have a meal as they venture along the river, the Sunset and Small Bites cruise is the perfect choice. Guests will be treated to a buffet, all supplied by local restaurants. And don’t worry- the bar will be fully stocked for this cruise! You can also take part of the Lock & Lunch tour, a one-way voyage to/from the Starved Rock Lodge. This trip includes lunch at the lodge, narration during the cruise, return transportation (if necessary). All this and more awaits any passengers! There are even historical sightseeing tours or trips with live music. Private events are also available. 

The Sainte Genevieve aims to offer the classic riverboat experience with a modern and charming twist.  Cruises can be booked via their website: stegenriverboat.com.

I took my first voyage aboard the Sainte Genevieve in 2023, narrated by Tom Aussem of Awesome Ottawa Tours. Learning about the area’s history while taking in the scenic views along the river is quite a unique experience. We spotted several eagles and other wildlife, gorgeous views of the natural world, near forgotten (yet quite important) historical sites, and a spectacular sunset on the river.  

A journey on the Ste. Genevieve allows you to see the local landscape in a whole new way. Not only are you sightseeing from the river itself, but the boat’s atmosphere and the crew’s hospitality make it a trip to remember. I know I certainly won’t forget my time aboard the Sainte Genevieve any time soon. 

Donna Reynolds
Author: Donna Reynolds

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