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Iconic Harrisburg Paddleboat records busiest season ever in 2015

Published: Nov 6, 2015

A challenging year didn’t stop the iconic riverboat from reaching several important milestones including a season record numbers of passengers and the 1-millionth passenger in September 2015.


HARRISBURG, PA. (November 6, 2015) – After a sailing season that was both historic and challenging, the Harrisburg Area Riverboat Society is preparing the Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat for its annual winter dry-dock. But those who oversee the Harrisburg icon are already preparing for the coming 28th season in 2016.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling each year,” remarks Thomas A. Farr, the Riverboat Society’s chairman. “Bitter because we’ll all have to wait six months to sail again. But it’s also sweet because each year is a triumph for all of those who have worked so tirelessly to welcome our guests and provide them with another year of great experiences on the river.”

Farr explains that each successful season also marks a major victory against the odds when it comes to such a unique attraction. Of passenger ships built since “The Pride’s” inception in 1988, over two-thirds have ceased operations. The riverboats fall victim to increasing maintenance costs and economic recession, according to Farr.

“The Pride of the Susquehanna is unique not only in that it is one of only six authentic paddlewheel riverboats still sailing in America,” said Farr, “But, it’s remarkable in that the boat’s annual attendance continues to increase each year.”

The crew faced challenges this season, including a two-week docking in peak sailing season due to an unexpected maintenance issue with hydraulic lines that proved to be an expensive and untimely dilemma. The lack of rain for the month of September also made navigation incredibly challenging as river depths averaged around 3-feet deep around Harrisburg.

The challenges however didn’t stop the riverboat from having an overall successful season including reaching several important milestones. In 2015 a record numbers of passengers sailed during the six-month season and the Riverboat Society celebrated the 1-millionth passenger in September 2015. Overall, the crew hosted more than 600 cruises this year and all 34 dinner cruises were sold out weeks in advance.

According to Farr the popular Princess Party events were doubled this year and the weddings and chartered events filled every weekend throughout the season.

“The people of Central PA have really embraced the riverboat,” said Farr. “And we’re already filling waiting lists for 2016.”

On November 10, the PA Army National Guard will once again be recruited to pull the 64-foot, 100-ton steel paddle wheeler riverboat from the Susquehanna River using heavy tank retrieval units.


Author: Rick Dunlap

Public Relations Director
Visit Hershey & Harrisburg
3211 North Front Street, Suite 301 A, Harrisburg, PA 17110