This Festive Santa Lake Cruise Is A Great Way To Celebrate The Winter Holidays

Santa is well-known for hanging around the North Pole. But it turns out he keeps a humble second home along the idyllic Lake Geneva in Wisconsin — about an hour southeast of the capital city of Madison. Each year, the Lake Geneva Cruise Line brings families together with a holiday-themed boat ride to enjoy the Christmas lights from the water and spot Santa along the shores. This year, the Santa cruises operates from the day after Thanksgiving, November 24, through December 30, 2023.

Each cruise experience starts on land with the Christmas Tree Festival at Pier 290, the location where the cruise departs. Families will have the chance to enjoy Christmas decorations, grab snacks and drinks, and enter a raffle to win fun prizes and support local charities. During this part of the evening, your children will be invited to write out their wishlist and "send it" to Santa. After that, you'll get on board a decorated, heated vintage boat for a 40-minute ride around the lake. The highlight is a visit to Santa's Hideaway, where he will greet you from the shore next to a dazzling light display and read out your child's name on his "nice" list, says the cruise website.

Ticket rates and packages

For this magical Christmas tradition, online reservations are recommended, as capacity is limited and many dates are already sold out. Tickets will cost $30 for each adult and $28 for seniors ages 65 and up. Tickets for youth between the ages of four and 17 cost $18, and children ages three and under can get in for free. Be sure your kids hold onto their boarding passes, as they can enjoy a complimentary treat at the Gage Marina Restaurant in Williams Bay at Pier 290.

If you have a group of 20 people or more, say for the annual holiday office party, there are group rates available — so long as you make arrangements through the main office. The group rate comes out to $21 to $25 for each person, depending on the dates you choose. To make a whole evening out of it, you can also have dinner at the pier's restaurant, which has hearty appetizers and plenty of warm seafood dishes on offer. The dinner-and-cruise package costs $55 to $60 per person, though prices are subject to change.

Adults-only Christmas cruises

While the family-friendly cruises are undoubtedly a big hit, there are two other Christmas-themed cruises to help you get into holiday spirit — and these ones are just for adults. Head on over to Pier 290 and grab a drink from Santa's Bar at the Christmas Tree Festival, then get on board a 60-minute cruise for a night of Christmas-related trivia and scenic views from the water. Before you go, consider brushing up on your favorite holiday movies so you're prepared for the questions. The trivia cruises are slated for December 2 and December 16 at 8:30 p.m.

The other adult-only cruise is a karaoke night at sea. Grab your favorite cocktail and come prepared to belt out your favorite holiday tunes. If singing isn't your thing, feel free to watch others brave the classics and take in the light displays on the way to see Santa at his lakeside home. The hour-long karaoke cruises are scheduled for November 25, December 9, and December 23 at 8:30 p.m. For these can't miss holiday events, admission costs $32 for adults and $30 for seniors. And the holiday cheer? Well, that you'll get for free.