Wisconsin River Cruises originated as Wilderness Cruises on the Willow Flowage in 1987. The business was originally started by Glenn and Shirley Schneider, who purchased Bassett Point Resort on the Willow in the mid-80’s.
The Schneiders started with a 55 foot, single deck pontoon boat. After a few years of rapid growth and continued interest within the community, they built a larger 76 foot excursion boat, the Wilderness Queen.
In 1991, Tom Tiffany and his wife, Chris, purchased the business from the Schneiders, who moved to warmer climates to run a classic paddle-wheeler on Lake Conroe in the Houston Texas area. In 2007, the Tiffany’s chose to move the Wilderness Queen to the Wisconsin River near Rhinelander. It was quite the task, but has proven to be well worth it.
The Tiffany’s operated it until 2012 when Ben and Patty Zastrow purchased it. In partnership with Wayne Kulhanek, they utilized his property to build a reception area and dock for entertaining customers. We believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the lack of development on the cruise route, despite it being so close to Rhinelander. Wildlife abounds along the route, with three eagles nests, nesting loons, otters, massive snapping turtles and lots of other critters.
Wisconsin River Cruises has evolved from sight-seeing cruises to dinner theater cruises, hosting weddings, company picnics, church socials and various other custom cruises! This year my husband and I are looking forward to bringing new adventures to our customers while maintaining the quality the Wilderness Queen has always had.
As we enter in our third season we look forward to welcoming new customers aboard, and renewing acquaintances with our existing customers, some of whom have been with us since 1991. It’s our belief that there is no better way to make a special event, truly memorable, than by making it a cruise!
We hope to see you soon!
The Zastrow Family