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Cruise boats start to launch in Madison lakes, hopeful for better tourism season

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 12:00 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In another sign of what looks to be a more normal summer in Madison, tour boats are getting back in the water.

Captain Rob Sutherland, Master Captain & General Manager of Betty Lou Cruises, launched a 52-foot yacht into Lake Mendota this morning. Captain Sutherland said launch day is always exciting for his crew, but this year it meant even more to them.

“We’re excited. It seems like the people are starting to get excited about getting out and about and it also seems like it’s going to be a good season overall for boating,” said Captain Sutherland.

They saw just one-third of their typical customer volume in 2020, due to the pandemic.

“We had to adhere to all the CDC guidelines, social distancing and that kind of stuff. People were kind of still scared to come out,” told Captain Sutherland.

Captain Sutherland explained that this will be a summer of making up for lost revenue for Betty Sue Cruises. They typically have two boats on Lake Mendota and two on Lake Monona, but this year they will just have tours on Lake Mendota. They expect to be back up to full-strength next summer.

Customers don’t have to mask up on their cruise, as long as they show proof of vaccination. Their public and private cruises start Friday, June 18th and will go through October.

Most of the company’s public tours last two hours and serve food and drinks for both adults and children.

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