All Aboard!

Photo courtesy of the Belle of Lousiville

Photo courtesy of the Belle of Lousiville

With the growing amount of things to do near Louisville’s waterfront, it’s easy to forget the available options for going out on the water. To see gradual shifting of our city’s skyline from the orange sunset of the evening to the multicolored glow of city lights at night is a dreamlike experience when viewed from the middle of the water.

Many people in this city have known this serene pleasure through a night on the city’s famed steamboat, The Belle of Louisville, or the retro-designed diesel riverboat, The Spirit of Jefferson.

The Waterfront Development Corporation always has events throughout the year involving these boats on top of their regular cruises, tours and charters.

Three nights this summer, The Spirit of Jefferson will be hosting a unique late-night party experience in collaboration with Kentucky Peerless Distilling, which is right now celebrating its one-year anniversary. The event is called Moonshine/Moonlight Cruise and will be an open-seating experience with a DJ and plenty of time to mingle with friends while tasting the Distillery’s offerings.

Photo courtesy of the Belle of Lousiville

Photo courtesy of the Belle of Lousiville

“We seat a hundred on the first deck and fifty on the second deck,” says Betty, who works as the sales manager with Belle of Louisville and Spirit of Jefferson. “We try out things on The Spirit, and if it takes off really well, then it might be something we look at for The Belle. Anytime you do something new, it’s testing the waters.”

With all the positive changes on the waterfront, the boat party promises to provide a great variety of atmosphere. “The Big Four Bridge is pretty at night and it’s really cool to go actually under it,” says Betty.

Lunch and dinner cruises are available on both boats throughout the week, with food from Hall’s Catering and Mike’s Kentucky Kitchen. The Spirit of Jefferson also does regular history tours on Saturday afternoons identifying historic sites, which can be seen from the Ohio.

As for The Belle, its century on the river continues to show visitors the charm of an old paddlewheel steamboat when it cruises the Ohio during the warmer seasons. “We usually have a D. on there and the DJ does a little narration, telling you what you’re going to see on the river. On The Belle, customers can go down and look in the engine room, which is something you can’t do on another boat.”

An upcoming major event for The Belle will be on June 18, when the Louisville Crashers will be playing a dance show. “We really haven’t done dance cruises on the Belle for a while,” says Betty, regarding what is sure to be a big night.

When figuring out ways to enjoy the Louisville area’s nightlife, the question of where to go will usually land you on one side of the river or another, but it’s worth exploring that idyllic zone in between that becomes a special place to be and an exciting night to remember. VT

The Moonshine/Moonlight Cruise will take place on the first Saturday of June, July and August. Tickets are $20 per person for all ages, including children. For reservations, times and more information about The Spirit of Jefferson and The Belle of Louisville, visit or call 502.574.2992.