Warm season Lake Tahoe cruises are common, but can you imagine being on a boat in the middle of Lake Tahoe on a serene winter day? It’s a beautiful sight: the shocking blue of the lake, soft pillows of snow resting on the branches of the surrounding trees, the massive Sierra Nevada standing out against a blue or gray sky and, quite possibly, not another boat in sight.
The Tahoe Bleu Wave is one of the only boats that runs year-round in Lake Tahoe — snow or shine as long as it’s not a full-blown winter storm. Central heating is available throughout the boat, and there’s a cozy fireplace in the cabin that keeps the interior surprisingly warm even on the coldest of Tahoe days.
When you book the Tahoe Bleu Wave, a friendly crew greets you in front of the 47-passenger yacht in the Tahoe Keys Marina. Once aboard, you’re free to roam around the boat and get your bearings before gliding off into Big Blue.
The 70-plus-foot yacht was built in 1966, and MontBleu (now Bally’s) later bought it to take out its high rollers. It was originally called the Bow Wave before being renamed Bleu Wave, which was a much more fitting name for the boat and its relationship to the casino. About 15 years ago, the owner, Laura, and her former business partner bought the boat, and in 2017 they moved the Tahoe Bleu Wave over to Tahoe Keys Marina in South Lake Tahoe, where the shoreline and marina are a bit more protected. Laura now has sole ownership and is the only female big boat owner on the lake.
Tahoe Blue Wave offers three daily public cruises (times shifting with the seasons and sunsets) as well as private charters for weddings and other events. The crew on this boat is always busy; when there’s snow, they shovel off the boat, and they are constantly doing upkeep to keep her running smoothly. When Laura took over operations in August of 2018, she and the crew upgraded the aesthetics, replacing furniture in the bar, installing new carpet, adding fresh coats of paint and turning the below-deck staterooms into one big lounge area.
The lounge is big enough for 30 people to have dinner, a bride to get ready for her memorable ceremony or for the sports fans on board to watch the big game (its new flatscreen TV have the ability to stream football) while the rest of the party takes in the natural environment upstairs. Little tweaks are always being made to the Tahoe Bleu Wave so that she runs better, is more comfortable and is a bit more impressive to her guests.
There are generally no other boats out on Lake Tahoe in the winter months, except for the occasional fisherman. Instead, the lake is more alive with wildlife, and it’s common to see bald eagles, osprey, hawks and even black bears walking the shoreline. Laura says that Hank the Tank, a locally famous bear, has frequently been spotted from the boat.
“In the winter Fannette Island becomes a wildlife preserve; Canada geese nest out there,” Laura says.
Many guests note how quiet the boat is as it glides across the water. Laura says that is thanks to the newer engines and generator. Guests are also fascinated by the incredible amount of detail you can see so far below the water’s surface when peering over the railings. At one point you can see the remains of a sunken structure resting on the floor of the lake.
Laura says that the 11 a.m. cruise is the best one to go on during a clear Tahoe day because you can see more in the lake when the sun is directly overhead. This is the most popular time slot for families. Friends, couples and romantics tend to prefer the sunset cruise. All cruises include light snacks and soda, juice and water as well as access to a full bar.
In the wintertime a Bleu Wave cruise is a nice alternative to skiing on those days when you need a break. The two activities complement each other well, giving you a glimpse of Tahoe from all perspectives – a mountain view from the lake (on the Tahoe Bleu Wave) and a lake view from the mountain (on Heavenly).
The Tahoe Bleu Wave offers private charters and has hosted many weddings, anniversary parties and corporate events. Their experiences tend to be so unforgettable that many people continue to come back year after year to relive it. “Whatever people want to do, we try to accommodate,” Laura says.
One of the best things about a Bleu Wave cruise is the staff. You can tell they enjoy their jobs, and it makes a difference.
“Our staff tends to stay with us, and they love it. They get to be on a boat all day and meet people from all over the world,” Laura says, adding how important it is to her to take care of her team. “It’s not a bad office,” she says, and once you stand on that deck you’ll certainly agree.
Tahoe Keys Marina
2435 Venice Drive E.
South Lake Tahoe, CA