How to get on Lake Norman without a boat of your own
I want to be on the water but not in the water.
Same. Queens Landing cruises are your best bet. You’ll get to experience the lake from the comfort of a dry cabin stocked with food and drinks. Queens Landing offers cruise tours and events on the Catawba Queen, a custom designed replica of a Mississippi riverboat, and on the Lady of the Lake, a 90-foot luxury yacht.
In addition to the regular cruises below, keep an eye on their calendar for occasional party cruises. This weekend is a special Cupcakes & Champagne party cruise for $34.99 on Saturday, April 8.
Lady of the Lake Dinner Cruise – You get a 4-course plated meal, 2.5-hour tour, on-board entertainment and a cash bar. Offered Fridays and Saturdays in April (Sundays added beginning in May) at 6:30 p.m. Price: $74.99 adults, $68.99 seniors, $33.99 kids 5-12, $16.99 kids 2-4
Catawba Queen Dinner Cruise – You get a buffet dinner, 2-hour water tour and cash bar. Offered Saturdays in April (Fridays added beginning in May) at 6 p.m. Price: $64.99 adults, $58.99 seniors, $31.99 kids 5-12, $17.99 kids 2-4
Sightseeing tours – If you’re looking for a daytime adventure without the elaborate meal, check out the 90-minute sightseeing tours offered Friday – Sunday at 1:30 p.m. They have boxed lunches available and an optional picnic upgrade. Price: $19.99 adults, $17.99 seniors, $14.99 kids 5-12, $7.99 kids 2-4
That sounds cool but I want a lake tour with only my friends and no one else.
Say no more. If a large group tour isn’t your thing, try a smaller chartered tour for 8-10 people. Carolina Boat Rentals has some reasonable all-inclusive options, including a chill two-hour scenic tour of the lake’s small coves and fancy mansions or a more active choose-your-own-adventure rental at an hourly rate.
Lake Norman Boat Tour – A 2-hour tour for up to 8 passengers available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The $169 fee includes fuel, your driver and complimentary refreshments. They’ve also got an optional wine & cheese package upgrade for romantic dates.
Lake Norman Charter Boat Tour – If you’re more interested in playing in the water, this option offers water activities (like waterskiing, tubing, swimming and banana boat rides) for up to 10 people for $155/hour. The rate includes your fuel, driver and complimentary refreshments. Available 7 days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
What if I want all the perks of a casual, itinerary-free boat rental without any of the responsibility of driving it?
A valid concern. Inexperienced boaters or anyone looking to totally cut loose can consider a boat rental with a hired driver. Many boat rental companies will offer to provide qualified drivers for an additional charge. Just ask.
Lake Norman Jet Ski Rentals will provide a driver for $25/hour for any of its boats, which are available in 2-hour, 1/2 day and full day rentals.
Lake Norman Boat Rentals Inc. also offers the option to add a driver to your rental for a more stress-free trip. Driver rates are $50 for 4 hours or $100 for 8 hours. They also stock your boat with free ice and water.
I just want the boat and nothing else.
A standard boat rental is for you. Visit Lake Norman has a guide to 23 boat rental companies.
I want unlimited, flexible access to a boat without actually owning one.
Don’t we all? It sounds too good to be true but this is actually an option. If you think you’ll be spending a lot of time on the water, just join a boat club. You’ll pay a monthly membership fee (and sometimes an initiation fee) for unlimited access to the club’s fleet.
It’s not cheap but it’s definitely cheaper than buying your own boat and then paying for slip fees, insurance, repairs, etc.
John Gillette over at Lake Norman Boat Club, which just launched its program last year, explained to me that boat clubs are a great option for people who are new to boating and might consider buying but aren’t quite sure where to start. At a club, you get access to a number of different boats as well as comprehensive training to get you up to speed on the rules of the water.
Aquaventure – Full access memberships are $259/month plus a $395-$895 down payment. You get access to all their pontoon boats, ski boats, wakeboard boats, fishing boats and deck boats as well as free water sports equipment.
Lake Effects Boat Club of Lake Norman – Full access memberships are $269/month plus gas. You get unlimited year round access to all club boats, which come stocked with your preferred refreshments and water sports equipment.
Lake Norman Boat Club – Full access memberships are $199 – $399/month depending on a member’s activity level and weekday vs. weekend access.
You might also consider the big national boat club franchises like Carefree Boat Club and Freedom Boat Club. These clubs give you access to any of their locations so you can hit the water even when you travel.
I don’t care about anything except that there is a slide on the boat
Now we’re talking. It took me a minute but I finally found one… Morningstar Marinas Kings Point has a 31-foot SolidCraft Double Decker pontoon available for full day rentals only (9:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.) for $550.
It would be similar to the one pictured below. Too bad Lake Norman’s scenery isn’t also similar to what’s pictured below.
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