City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Cruising Into Summer

Paradise Charter Cruises and Minneapolis Queen Create Everlasting Experiences

Article by Courtney Reed

Photography by Photography Provided by Paradise Charter Cruises

Originally published in Minneapolis Lakes Lifestyle

The positive energy in Dave Lawrance’s voice is palpable.  He is passionate about his business, providing a great experience, and is excited to get the 2020 season underway.  Paradise Charter Cruises is a family owned business that started back in 1985.  Dave had an opportunity to look at a charter boat operation and liked what he saw.  He worked hard to organize, get things off the ground, and met his wife just a year later.  Dave comments that she was “a huge part of taking the business to the next level” and it became a team effort.  In 2003, Paradise Charter was approached with an opportunity to expand to the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis Queen, which gave an altogether new alternative with being close to downtown. 

Dave doesn’t hesitate in sharing that customer service is what sets Paradise Charter Cruises apart.  They have a variety of boats in their fleet which can accommodate any type of experience one might want. Whether it be casual and intimate groups to large corporate events, weddings, birthdays, to anniversaries, or public cruises, Paradise Charter and Minneapolis Queen caters to everyone. 

A lot of credit goes to the entire team, and Dave has a “great staff, with some employees that have been with them for over 30 years.”  There are five cruise coordinators that work in the office, and help with planning events, decorations, boat showings, menus and ensuring a flawless experience.  They also have a list of trusted vendors that can meet any unique accommodations for the customer.  Dave’s chef has been with them for over three decades.  They provide a standard menu, but he can also create custom menus if required, and Dave says, “the food is unbelievable.”  As far as lead time, the earlier one books, the better - especially if you want to snap up the prime days of the season.  Ideally, sixty days or more lead time is needed for larger outings, but their team is quite fast and flexible. 

As far as choosing the lake over the river, “Lake Minnetonka is what Minnesota is all about” says Dave.  "It’s a relaxing experience, with a beautiful shoreline and all types of homes and cottages.  The vibe that’s out there is quite incredible.”  Paradise Charter does offer narrating if the customer wants it; picking out sights of interest and giving historical facts about the lake.  On the river, people can board the Minneapolis Queen at the Mill Ruins area near the Bohemian Flats.  Cruising here is peaceful and takes people through the 7 Mile Gorge, and down to the Lower St. Anthony Falls lock.  It’s beautiful with a great view of the city, and Dave is “really proud to be part of the Minneapolis skyline.”  There are a variety of cruise options.  Shorter public cruises are available at around 1.5 hours, private charters run about 3 hours in length and weddings usually take around 4 hours.  But, amongst the popular are the Friday night dinner cruises, Sunday Brunches, simple sight-seeing, Margarita Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, or Happy Hour and a Pizza. 

In all experiences, the crew members are well trained for safety and boating laws.  On Lake Minnetonka, Paradise Charter adheres to the state boating regulations while the Minneapolis Queen must follow coast guard rules.  Lawrance has incorporated a lot of the coast guard safety measures and precautions into the lake cruises for added security.  Waterways can be complex, especially when dealing with islands, channels, varying water depths, shorelines, locks and currents.  Crew members must pass tests and spend several hours on boats before working into a true Captain’s position.

Apparel is always casual, comfortable, fun and of course; temperature related.  But the boats can be closed or open, with umbrellas on deck or everything open to full sun exposure.  It all depends on what the customer is looking for.  If one needs more entertainment than the scenery itself - music, food, and games like bean bags or a putting green can be added if needed.  Regardless of the cruise you prefer, there is just something special about summer in Minnesota and cruising along the water with the wind in your hair.  Dave closes in saying, “I've been doing it for over 35 years and I still love going to work every day.  I get excited about it!”

You can find more details at