Savannah Riverboat Cruises was established in Savannah, Georgia in 1991 under the direction of experienced Captain, Jonathan H. Claughton. Savannah’s antebellum charm, with flowing Spanish moss hanging from stoic live oaks and welcoming shady squares, hearkens back to the days when paddle driven riverboats full of tourists and locals dotted the Savannah River.
With the founding of the company, Capt. Claughton sought to bring a dinner cruise tour to Savannah. After doing his research, he invested in the River Queen, a 400 passenger vessel. This riverboat served him, and his guests,w ell as he and his crew welcomed those in Savannah to learn the history of this great port city.
In 1997,after six years of success, Capt. Claughton expanded the company and added an additional riverboat, the 550 passenger Georgia Queen.
Both riverboats feature two climate-controlled dining decks and an open-air third deck. Decked out in traditional red, white and blue riverboat colors, these elegantly appointed boats cannot help but draw visitors back to a time when gentility and relaxation was always in vogue.
In winter 2007, the company welcomed the newest edition to their fleet,the 600 passenger New Savannah River Queen. This boat features three climate controlled dining rooms, three bars, and a top deck snack shop. The Savannah River Queen has two large dining areas perfect for large groups and an open air, covered third deck patio space. The third deck also features a VIP room capable of accommodating 36 people.
For the past 25 years, the company has expanded, developed and established itself as an anchor among historic River Street’s icons.
When asked what makes his company successful, Capt Claughton mused, “If you give good service, the public will flock to the waterfront and enjoy what you have to offer. I cannot help to think this is the winning formula if you run a small ferry boat or a multi-state excursion operation.”
When asked about the future, Claughton said, “We will continue to be a center stage fixture on River Street. We have seen a slow and steady growth through the years. I know we will continue to expand.”
This expansion has led to the arrival in 2016 of a new riverboat, the Georgia Queen. The Georgia Queen measures an impressive 230 ft long,64 ft wide and a towering 68 ft tall and features three grand ballrooms with over 15,000 square feet of dining space, a 5,000 square foot, fully open-air top deck with patio seating. The entire boat encompasses a total of 38,000 square feet. She can carry 1,000 passengers plus 200 crew, which makes her the size of a small cruise ship.
The riverboat tours leave the dock right next to the exact location where General Oglethrope first landed on the river front and head upriver, into the Port of Savannah,and then turn around and head back under the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge and past the historic river front. The tours continue downriver passing the world famous Waving Girl, Florence Martus,through the ship yards and just past the tip of Hutchinson Island and Old Fort Jackson. There, the boat circles back upriver to arrive gently back at the dock.