Watts Bar Riverboat Company
4566 City Park Drive
Lenoir City, TN 37772
On a recent afternoon I was given the opportunity to tour this beautiful boat. Although the Watts Bar Belle sits on the Tennessee River instead of the Mississippi, stories of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer danced through my mind.
From the front of the boat you can see the paddlewheels underneath you. Their bright red and white colors glisten in the evening sun. It’s easy to imagine a life of yesteryear as the birds fly overhead and you see the calm water in front of you.
The Watts Bar Belle in Lenoir City is an authentic spilt wheel paddleboat. Twin diesel engines provide power to the paddles. This helps provide power and increases her maneuverability. The split wheel design makes it easy for the boat to make tight turns or generally navigate the water.
In addition to comfort, safety is taken into consideration. The Watts Bar Belle has been inspected by none other than the U.S. Coast Guard. Her official capacity is 149 people. Life vests are easily found in clearly marked cabinets on the bow. Cruises may be cancelled in the even of severe weather.
There are two decks to help you enjoy the 2- 2 1/s hour cruise. The open air upper deck is perfect for enjoying the East Tennessee scenery. Simply go up the stairs, sit in one of the deck chairs and make yourself comfortable.
On the second floor the dining room is part of the enclosed cabin. It is both climate controlled and wheelchair accessible. Large windows provide a spectacular view of the Tennessee River. Food is provided by Gourmet on the Go in the fully equipped galley. A cash bar is available at the rear of the dining room.
The Watts Bar Belle is known for its quality entertainment. Most ticket prices seem to run from $29.95 to $35.95. A specialty Mother’s Day cruise featuring prime rib and entertainment runs $44.95 per person.
Cruises include dinner, a show or concert and the actual riverboat cruise. The cost is not out of line when compared to other East Tennessee attractions.
The parking is free. Coffee, tea and water are included with the meal. Bar items are extra. The value becomes even better when you consider that a can easily spend $75 for a nice dinner, movie and popcorn.
If you want to “laugh until your sides hurt” join a cruise with entertainer Larry Blair. No one seems to have more fun aboard the Belle than he does. Ryan Owensby backs him up on the keyboards. It’s a special night of fun.
Other concerts and shows include “Patsy Cline Night” with singer Tina Jenkins, the house vocalist on the Watts Bar Belle. Gospel Music cruises are also available. Church group discounts make this outing extra tempting.
Seats fill quickly so make your reservation at least 24 hours in advance. There is a 24 hour cancellation policy.
The Belle is also available for group events. From my time on the boat I could easily visualize a bride and groom exchanging vows on the upper deck and then going downstairs for the post-wedding reception.
The Watts Bar Belle offers a 42″ flat panel monitor to help make corporate events successful. Helpful staff can easily arrange for food, music or beverages for your event.
As you step off of the Belle don’t forget to visit the gift shop. It’s filled with fun items and locally made products. You are sure to find the perfect souvenir to help you remember your time aboard the Watts Bar Belle.
View a photo slide show online.
Watts Bar Belle