Fan Favorite Cruises and Exciting New Acts Headline the Princess Wenonah in 2023

Spring rains and extended sunlight are a sure sign that we will be enjoying outdoor activities soon. It’s time to plan your summer of fun and pencil in a few dates on the water with family and friends. You might even convince the boss that a group outing on the Princess Wenonah is a great way to end the work week.

Perennial favorites Jedi Mind Trip, The Rockshow, and The Soul XPress are back to Rock the Boat with high-energy performances that consistently bring fans to hear the music that has rocked us from the 1970’s to today.

Atomic Annie
Atomic Annie

Newcomers to the Rock the Boat scene include the quirky and offbeat Marsupial Creampie, a band that puts their unique spin on a wide variety tunes. Female-fronted Atomic Annie hails from the greater Lansing area and is pumped to bring their versatile setlist to the Princess Wenonah for the first time. Supergroup Nameless combines the talents of several local bands to push out hits you love but don’t hear on the usual bar circuit.

The Rhett Yocom Blues Band

We will be switching up genres to offer two high quality Blues-inspired acts this season. The Rhett Yocom Blues Band’s roster of seasoned musicians have earned acclaim for their homegrown style and and we will introduce you to Papa Kiszka, the original musical influence of they boys you know as Greta Van Fleet – he’s the father of three of GVF’s band members! 

Papa Kiszka
Papa Kiszka
The Princess Wenonah at Wenonah Park near the Doubletree Hotel

Saturday evenings are for Carefree Cruisin’with acoustic and smaller groups designed for date nights and group outings where the music adds to the ambiance but allows for conversation over dinner. 

Marsupial Creampie
Marsupial Creampie

We have a great line-up of entertaining musicians for Carefree Cruisin’, including Greg Hind, who toured globally with the Aussie group The Little River Band. The series also features solo performers Dale Boulton and Jim McKeith, a duo arrangement with Bob Hughes and full band experiences with the accomplished Laurie & the Lefties and a return engagement of Marsupial Creampie.

All evening events include a catered meal by the famous Krzysiak House Restaurant and feature a cash bar with a great selection of beverages, including soft drinks, beer, wine, and cocktails.

Looking for daytime tour options? Family and group friendly river tours will resume in mid-June. Daytime tours are a great way to relax and learn something new about the Saginaw River and the community surrounding it. Live tour guides offer a personalized experience and chance to sip a cool drink while you take in the scenery.

Find all the event details at Tickets are on sale now.

To round out your adventure in Bay City, book discounted lodging at the Doubletree Hotel, located right next to our dock (be prepared to share your Bay City Boat Lines reservation confirmation), explore great dining and shopping options in downtown Bay City, visit our State Park on the Saginaw Bay, hike local trails, attend one of the cool festivals and events happening in town.

Find a “top ten” list of things to do at

Event Alert: History Tours are Back!

Now in its 25th season, the Free History Tours are brought to you by local sponsors and highlight the History of our community along the Saginaw River. 

This unique program is a fan favorite and has been a gift to the community every year we since we started offering it back in 1998. 

Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance. Tours will be offered for 5 weeks this season, beginning June 27 and ending on July 28, Monday through Thursday mornings at 10:00 am only.

Due to limited availability, households may request up to four tickets just once per season, please.

Special thanks to our awesome sponsors for making these tours FREE to you!

Reservations open for the first week of tours on June 13 at

Happenings: Apps and Ales are on Tap June 9th

One of the first public events downtown this year is Apps and Ales, a really cool event hosted by over a dozen establishments in Bay City. Participants buy a ticket book good for sampling two different beers and paired appetizers at each stop on June 9th from 5:30 to 9:00 pm. 

The Princess Wenonah will be docked and serving Bell’s “No Yeah” blonde ale and North Peak Brewing’s “Tropical Diabolical” IPA along with Sausage & Pineapple Bites and Pierogi from Krzysiak House Restaurant.

Local favorite Marty Viers will perform live on the top deck from 6 to 9:00 pm, so you can take a break from walking and enjoy the tunes before you move on to sip a few more ales elsewhere.

There will be musical performances on the streets in various locations. Tickets are on sale at participating establishments or online here.

Travel Tip: Discounted Room Rates and Great Parking at Doubletree Hotel Riverfront Bay City for Boat Lines Guests

Did you know that Bay City Boat Lines guests are eligible for discounted room rates at the nearby award-winning Doubletree Hotel when you cruise with us? 

You also get access to the BEST available parking for your boat cruise, right next to our boarding area!

Get 15% off rates when you book a room and mention your reservation with Bay City Boat Lines. Some dates may be excluded. Call 989-891-6000 to reserve your room.

Free Saginaw River History Tours Are Back For a Limited Time in July

Local Sponsors Make Tours Possible Again in 2021

It wouldn’t be summer in Bay City without Free History Tours on the Saginaw River. Local sponsors have again stepped forward to make this staple possible for the 24th year. Bay City Boat Lines has operated the free tours on weekday mornings since 1998.

2021 Free History Tour Sponsors are 1st State Bank, Ieuter Insurance Group, Krzysiak House Restaurant, Doubletree Hotel Bay City Riverfront in Conjunction with Bay City Boat Lines.

2021 Free History Tour partners include Ieuter Insurance Group, Krzysiak House Restaurant, 1st State Bank and Doubletree Hotel Bay City Riverfront. These partners provide a majority of the funding necessary for the free tours. Bay City Boat Lines picks up remaining costs. Each of these companies has been providing services in their respective fields (insurance, banking, catering and event services) to Bay City Boat Lines for many years and are trusted business partners. Their support is critical to the program and demonstrates a strong commitment to the quality of life in the surrounding region.

This year’s schedule will begin July 5 and continue Monday through Friday at 10am through July 30th. Long time tour guides Sherry Clements and Nancy “Mouth of the River” Rousse put their knowledge, humor and hospitality to work on the two-hour daily tours, delighting guests of all ages.

Each year Nancy and Sherry bring something new and interesting to the tours and cover everything from the lumbering days to Bay City’s maritime heritage, woven into stories about landmarks and the significance of the Saginaw River and its watershed. Their love for the community is apparent in their enthusiasm and depth of knowledge.

Crew members Michelle Judd, Nancy Rousse, Elaine Fournier, Michael Broecker, Paige Judd, Bill Fournier, Matthew Judd and Todd Shorkey – July 2019.

The entire crew of Bay City Boat Lines enjoy hosting guests for these tours each summer as many guests who attend have never experienced a boat ride on the Saginaw River and everyone leaves with smiles on their faces. It is especially fun to see locals view where they live from an entirely new perspective. Visitors to Bay City are impressed with the beauty of downtown, the working riverfront, along with natural riverbank areas and their inhabitants including the bald eagles that are seen quite regularly. The company’s motto “life is better on a boat” is carried out in the passion the crew has for their work and the warm welcome they extend to passengers aboard both the Princess Wenonah and Islander tour boats.

Princess Wenonah at Wenonah Park June 2021
Princess Wenonah at Wenonah Park – June 2021

The tours will depart from on the Princess Wenonah this season, a change from recent years. The Princess Wenonah is moored at Wenonah Park in downtown Bay City where she is instantly recognizable along the riverfront this summer. The new site offers convenient access to hotels, eateries, downtown shopping and the heavily trafficked riverwalk. Guests of the Doubletree Hotel have a birds-eye view of the iconic vessel from the Riverfront Grille and many guest rooms.

Reservations for tours open up two weeks in advance at, and must be made online. Guests are limited to four free tickets per household each season, and are subject to availability. All ages are welcome. The first week of free tours for 2021 (July 5th through 9th) will be open for booking on Monday, June 21, 2021.

Groups and larger parties can not be accommodated on free tours, but can be reserved on paid afternoon tours on Fridays and Saturdays at 1:00pm. Private tours can be arranged at other times for parties of 30 or more guests.

Guests enjoying a cruise aboard the Princess Wenonah – June 2021

To learn more about the Free History Tour series visit

Bay City’s Princess Wenonah Back in the Heart of the City

The Iconic Excursion Boat Moved to Wenonah Park in Downtown Bay City on June 9, 2021

June 16, 2021

In 1998, the William M. Miller floated into town and moored at a very different-looking Wenonah Park. Bay City was just developing the riverfront. A few visionaries had grand plans for a system of rail trails, downtown housing, and a revamped downtown. Many local residents could not imagine tourists and visitors thinking of hardscrabble Bay City as a weekend destination on par with Traverse City or Grand Rapids. The Wm. M. Miller was christened Princess Wenonah and began offering free tours and hosting private parties from a dock left vacant by the research vessel Lake Guardian.

Bill and Elaine Fournier with the Princess Wenonah at Wenonah Park ind 2004

Over two decades later, miles of trails wind through Bay County and downtown Bay City. New residents call refurbished buildings home. A vibrant downtown offers dining, shopping, and cultural activities. Suddenly, a city that was once a secret is gaining traction as destination for travelers hungry for a Pure Michigan experience.

Wenonah Park, July 2018

The Princess Wenonah began offering tours and private parties in the the early days, and was soon joined by Islander. As the waterfront developed the Princess Wenonah and Islander were moved to several locations, eventually landing 2 miles south of downtown on the Middleground Island in 2014. Tucked away in a quiet location next to local bar known for live music on the river, Bay City Boat Lines worked hard to draw visitors upriver for tours and events.

Scotty’s SandBar on the Middlegrounds Island, Bay City, August 2017

Reeling from the 2020 pandemic year, Bay City Boat Lines along with local economic development organization Bay Future, renewed a push to bring the Princess Wenonah back to her original berth at Wenonah Park in downtown Bay City. With key support from the Doubletree Hotel and help from the City of Bay City, Bay City Boat Lines successfully negotiated a lease for the summer season back where it all began. The Princess Wenonah once again graces the riverfront to host a new generation of locals and visitors for tours, dinner cruises and entertainment.

Princess Wenonah at Wenonah Park, June 2021

The family-owned and operated business provides a unique perspective of the Saginaw River and the community that surrounds it. Tour guides and crew members are happy to share stories and information with guests aboard the 150 passenger vessel on regularly scheduled tours. Several family members and an experienced, close-knit crew are delighted to help passengers have an safe, enjoyable trip no matter the occasion.

The Doubletree Hotel, Bay City Riverfront adjacent the Princess Wenonah’s Wenonah Park Dock

Partnerships and collaborations tie the Princess and Wenonah and Islander back to the region that supports it. Local businesses help provide funding for a series of free tours, local bands, disc jockeys are put to work on dinner cruises, and another family-owned restaurant, Krzysiak House, and the nearby Doubletree Hotel provide catering options for private events aboard the boat. The owners of Bay City Boat Lines still operate a well-known antiques store just blocks away and believe in the power of local businesses to drive growth and change.

The Princess Wenonah will offer a variety of public events from Wenonah Park beginning in June and continuing through October. For more information see or call 989-891-BOAT.

Boating Season is Underway on the Saginaw River in Bay City

After a delayed start, Bay City Boat Lines is back on the water for public cruising

This spring and summer has seen unprecedented interest in outdoor recreation, dining and activities. With a spacious open-air layout, the Princess Wenonah and Islander are well-suited to hosting guests seeking a safe, fun way to enjoy a few hours on the water with family or friends.

The Princess Wenonah cruises through Downtown Bay City on a Saturday afternoon tour June 27, 2020.

Currently, the larger Princess Wenonah is hosting most of our public events, as she affords space for 75 passengers to spread out comfortably and take in the sights. Friday Night Entertainment cruises and Saturdays on the Saginaw River Tours have already started and will continue through September. We have some great entertainment on tap, including evenings our with bands like SoulXpress, Marty Viers, Jedi Mind Trip, The Rockshow, Steve Armstrong and the 25 Cent Beer Band, Slick Jimmy, and the Todd Michael Band.

Jedi Mind Trip performing live on a Friday Night Entertainment cruise June 19, 2020

Free History Tours return for a limited time in July 2020

For the past 22 years, generous local sponsors have teamed up with Bay City Boat Lines to offer free public tours on weekday mornings. These tours are hit with kids and grown ups alike, sharing interesting facts about how our community and the river it grew up around has evolved over the years. While current events made funding difficult this year, there are still 4 weeks of free tours available this season, running from July 6th through July 31st.

Special thanks to our #keeptheboatsafloat crowdfunding campaign sponsors, who have made the first week a reality, and to our three committed sponsors who round out the month: Krzysiak House Restaurant, the Bay County Realtor Association and Ieuter Insurance Group. Up to four tickets may be reserved by a household this year, at no cost thanks to our sponsors. To sign up for the tour, visit our website up to two weeks ahead and reserve your spot.

New events on the horizon?

As we cautiously tiptoe though a safe start to the season, Bay City Boat Lines will continue to explore opportunities for new events as visitor traffic and interest allows. Keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for announcements.

Safe Cruising with Bay City Boat Lines

The safety of our guests and crew is important to us. Find out what we are doing to provide to protect us all by viewing our Safe Cruising Guidelines before you book.

Cruise for Free in 2019 Thanks to Local Sponsors!

When something is good, you want it to last. And last it has.

For 22 seasons, Bay City Boat Lines has partnered with local businesses to offer individuals a chance to do something special for free – the opportunity to cruise the Saginaw River by boat and learn about the history of the river and the communities surrounding it.

The staff of Bay City Boat Lines takes particular pride in offering this service to the public because it allows locals and visitors of all ages access to the boats and the riverfront. Many passengers have lived in the area their entire lives and have never seen their hometown from the river, where the perspective of the community is completely different.

Onboard tour guides delight in sharing colorful stories of the lumbering, shipbuilding and industrial eras, showing off recent developments along the banks and helping riders spot a variety of wildlife including waterfowl, deer and bald eagles along the way. The trip is relaxing, informative and appreciated by all ages.

The Saginaw River is typically peaceful and quiet on these weekday morning tours, which is a great start to a day of exploration in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Departing at 10 a.m. and returning at 12 p.m., the next logical step after the tour is to enjoy one of the area’s restaurants or visit one of the riverfront parks you cruised by for a picnic lunch. Lots of other attractions, shopping and recreation is available nearby to complete a day of fun for families, friends or out of town visitors.

Often, visitors are amazed when they hear the annual tours are free. They wonder “what’s the catch”? Fortunately, there isn’t one, thanks to the generosity of others. Bay City Boat Lines has been fortunate to find several community partners who consistently step forward to help fund the tours every year. This year, seven weeks of tours will be offered beginning July 8 and continuing through August 23. The route varies by day, heading North, or downriver through active areas such as downtown Bay City and beyond on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday trips take the South route upriver through more quiet and natural scenery, while still offering interesting stories.

Islander at anchor at the Middlegrounds Dock in Bay City. 2018

The History Tours take place aboard Islander, an iconic red and white boat originally used to ferry passengers to offshore islands in Wisconsin. Built in 1946, she is a sturdy steel double-decker and is perfect for sight seeing from either deck with comfortable seating, shady cover and a snack bar to tide you over until lunch.

This year’s series of tours kick off July 8 -12 courtesy of the Bay City Fireworks Festival Committee and BaySail. Come into town the weekend prior to enjoy one of the state’s biggest and best known Fireworks displays. A three day Fireworks Festival features entertainment, a carnival, craft show and other activities, all capped off by nightly Fireworks Displays. The Princess Wenonah will also host a dinner cruise on Saturday, July 6th with a live band to celebrate the holiday and raise funds for the festival.

The Princess Wenonah offers luncheon tours daily during Tall Ship Celebration in July.

The following week, Krzysiak House Restaurant underwrites free tours July 15 – 17. This is a shortened week, followed by special events for the much anticipated Tall Ship Celebration when Bay City plays host to a dozen Tall Ships for four days. International ships and their crews, international musicians and thousands of visitors make this an exciting time. The ships are impressive and well worth a visit. For information on admission and ship tours, events & activities, plus special boat tours see and Bay City Boat Lines special events.

The Bay County Realtors Association brings you Week 3, with tours every weekday morning from July 22 – 26th. The end of the week is capped off by Downtown Bay City’s Sidewalk Sale Days, beginning Thursday, for those who enjoy shopping sales street fair style. Bay City is known for its boutique and specialty shops, featuring everything from unique women’s clothing, home decor, antique stores, vinyl record purveyors and used books to name a few.

Week 4 is made possible by Ieuter Insurance Group July 29 – August 2. After the morning tours stick around to enjoy a free Wednesday evening concert in Wenonah Park or attend the HopRiot Beer Festival on Saturday, August 3.

Chemical Bank anchors Week 5, August 5 – 9. One of our longest running sponsors, Chemical Bank has been a terrific partner and is well known for encouraging their employees to volunteer in the community. This week you can also enjoy a free movie in Wenonah Park on Tuesday night or stay for the weekend and check out the Urban Salvage Vintage Market August 10 and 11.

Week 6, August 12 through 16, free History Tours are brought to you by Skorupski Family Funeral Homes, who are active in many community events. After the cruise, grab some lunch and check out the Third Street Waterfall Park, where you can sit and enjoy ice cream from the nearby St. Laurent Brothers, an iconic candy shop at Third and Water Streets.

Finally Bay City Boat Lines picks up Week 7 to end the summer series of Free History Tours, at 10am daily August 19 -23. Stay in town to check out A Taste of Downtown Bay City in the new Nickless Pavilion Saturday afternoon, with a dozen local eateries offering samples of their wares. All summer long you can also catch Bay City Boat Lines other vessel, Princess Wenonah for a Friday night Entertainment & Dinner Cruise. The Princess Wenonah is the larger of the two fleet mates and the evening atmosphere is lively, with top side dancing and a full bar onboard.

Guests enjoy a narrated tours aboard Islander on the Saginaw River in Bay City, MI.

Because they are free, the tours are extremely popular and all seats are generally reserved in advance. Reservations open two weeks ahead through Bay City Boat Lines website and have a limit of six per household, to ensure that as many different people enjoy the tour and that no seats go unused (groups are referred to paid Saturday tours or private tours to keep free seats open for families and travelers).

If you haven’t visited Bay City or the Great Lakes Bay Region, or if you live nearby and keep meaning to “be a tourist in your own town”, what are you waiting for? A warm welcome and a new adventure awaits!

Now Hiring for the Best “Adult Summer Job” in Bay City!

Do you enjoy meeting new people? Have an eye for detail? Prefer working outdoors, especially around the water? Are passionate about Bay City and the Great Lakes Bay Region? Knowledgeable about our community and its natural resources? Are you active enough to enjoy light physical work? Do you prefer to spend your free time keeping busy and looking out for the enjoyment of others? Are you quick witted and cool under pressure? Are you ready to spend the best time of the year doing something positive, productive and dare we say, fun? If so, we have a unique opportunity for you!

Bay City Boat Lines is looking for a few exceptional personalities to join our crew for part time, seasonal work aboard the Princess Wenonah and Islander excursion boats as a Deckhand. Love boating but don’t have the technical skills we require yet? We will train the right candidates! We value can-do people with enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Mechanical aptitude is a big plus, as is experience taking charge of situations and caring for people (think first responders, law enforcement, firefighters, teachers and health care staffers). Five or more years of previous work experience is preferred.

We are an ideal match for active people looking for a hobby job, retirement gig or supplemental income. Our season runs mid-May to mid-October, with multiple daily events scheduled in peak months (mid-June through August). Hours are flexible, with events running daytime, evening, weekdays and weekends for a few hours each (heavy on weekends). Our crew is family-oriented, fun and friendly, and we work hard at putting on great events and exceeding our guests’ expectations every day.

The nitty gritty: Typical responsibilities of our multi-talented deckhands include pre-event setup of tables and chairs, keeping the vessels neat and clean including floors and restrooms, greeting and checking in guests, relaying safety instructions to groups, bussing tables during catered events, stowing and moving inventory, learning safety procedures, participating in drills, becoming familiar with the boats’ systems and operation including line handling, performing engine room and mechanical checks and maintenance tasks, handling emergencies, ensuring guest safety and comfort, monitoring onboard activities, and post event clean up.

We pay an hourly wage with increases for experience and skill development over time, but the best reward is being a part of something special. Our season offers new challenges from day to day and there is plenty to learn. Our goal is to empower you to act with little direction after training, yet be willing to take direction when needed. You will find out why we say #lifeisbetteronaboat

If you think you have what it takes to join our team, send a completed application (found here) along with a cover letter telling us why you want to be a part of our organization and what you have to offer. Interviews will be offered to those best suited to our team. Successful candidates will begin training in May.

Mail or email your application by April 26 to:

Michelle Judd
Bay City Boat Lines
1020 North Water Street
Bay City, MI 48708

Celebrating 20 Years of Cruising the Saginaw River

Over the past 20 years, a 65 ton steel lady has become an icon on the Saginaw River, plying the waters from downtown Bay City to the edges of the Saginaw Bay.  Originally built as the M/V Wm. M. Miller in 1954, and re-christened the Princess Wenonah upon her Bay City debut in 1998, this popular excursion boat has been hard at work for 64 years.

From her very first season, the 150 passenger Princess Wenonah has been a popular attraction for children and adults, attracting attention wherever she travels on the river. Three partners originally joined forces to purchase the ship from Miller Boat Lines in Ohio, converting her from a car and passenger ferry to a full-time passenger excursion use. A few years later, the Princess Wenonah was joined by Islander, a 53 foot former ferry which lay dormant after operating on Lake Superior and on the Chicago River, but found new life in Bay City.

Over the past two decades, over 250,000 passengers have enjoyed cruising aboard the Princess Wenonah and her fleet-mate Islander. Original partner William Fournier, his wife Elaine, and daughter Michelle Judd still play host to public guided tours, dinner cruises with entertainment, and private parties each season. A dedicated crew (to which several grandchildren have now been added) takes pride in welcoming guests onboard from May to October each year.

Showing off the beauty of the local waterway, sharing the area’s vibrant maritime and lumbering history and entertaining guests with dinner and dancing is a job the entire staff is proud to take part in. Guests delight in opening each of the city’s four bascule bridges as the Princess Wenonah ventures through town while the Islander specializes in leisurely guided tours and smaller gatherings. Bald eagles, egrets, deer, a great many bird species and small mammals are regularly spotted in their natural habitats along the banks.

Since Bay City Boat Line’s inception, many areas of the riverbank have been improved and developed with charming trails, riverfront parks and new developments.  Three outstanding hotels, hip restaurants, unique boutiques and cultural venues have sprung up and turned downtown Bay City into a growing destination for visitors. First-time visitors marvel at the entrepreneurial spirit of this city, which has managed to blend renovated historic structures with complementary new construction, gradually reworking it’s lumbering and blue collar roots into a small urban gem.

An easy drive from metro Detroit and minutes off I-75 (the main route heading “up North” for many Michiganders) you can find tickets for Bay City Boat Lines’ public events most days of the week in July and August at Tickets range from free to under $50.

What are you waiting for? Come see what has made the Princess Wenonah and Islander one of the most beloved summer attractions in the heart of the Great Lakes Bay Region for 20 years.