Cruise on Lake Lucerne


The highlight of our second day in Lucerne was by far the five hour lake cruise we went on.  I say “Lake Lucerne,” but if you look at the map below, you’ll see that it’s actually a couple of different lakes. The cruise we went on took us through Vierwaldstättersee and Urnersee.

As far as beautiful sights go, this might be my favorite place in the entire world. The water is clear and blue. The mountains, green at the bottom and filled with trees, are covered with snow at the top. The fall colors were stunning while we were there, during the first weekend in November. The houses and chapels that line the lake are colorful, and add to the scenery instead of taking away from it. Even the rain and the low clouds gave everything a fairy-tale sort of feel, though I’m sure it’s equally as beautiful in the sunlight.

Lake Lucerne

We went with the ferry company that serves all the towns around the valley. It’s called Vierwaldstättersee (same as the lake), also known as SGV group, and is also the only ferry company that is directly across from the train station when you arrive at Lucerne. It’s impossible to miss. They do a lot of different tours, ranging from one hour to five and a half hours. It’s not cheap (almost nothing in Switzerland is), but if you have a Eurail or Swiss Travel Pass you can do it for free. Interrail passes get you 50% off.

I say, if you’re going to do a free boat cruise, do the big one! So, we hopped on a round-trip from Lucerne to Flüelen and back. Normally, that cruise would cost 72 CHF (about 74 dollars) for second class.  We had our Eurail passes though, so we didn’t have to pay.  Here are the schedules and prices for the other Lake Lucerne cruises, under the “Seasonal Timetables” dropdown menu.

Hey look, it's me! I'm in Switzerland!
Hey look, it’s me! I’m in Switzerland!
What if that house was yours? Just think about it.
What if that house was yours? Just think about it.

The experience

The boat was crowded, as was the rest of the public transportation in the area. There were a fair number of tourists doing what we were doing (taking pictures, taking selfies, going outside for the view and coming back inside for the warmth). There were also a lot of locals using the ferry for what it was intended (easy commute  from one town to another).

The weather that day was cold and rainy, so we didn’t spend the whole time out on the deck. Instead, we claimed a spot by the window at one of the lunch tables inside where it was warm. We were right next to the door, so whenever we saw a particularly photogenic scene, it was easy to slip outside and snap some photos before our fingers started turning white from the cold.

On the upper deck
On the upper deck
View from the port side
View from the port side

From inside the boat, it was fun to watch all the other passengers taking pictures. There was one man who, by the end of the trip, must have had at least three hours of video footage of just his face. We watched him go outside again and again to point a camcorder (yes, an actual camcorder from the 2000s) at himself for 45 minutes at a time. There was another couple who tried to do the titanic pose (of course) and then tried to do some one-foot acrobatic balancing poses while standing on top of a slippery plastic bench in the front of the moving boat. I was sure they were going to fall!

Lake Lucerne cruise

Lake Lucerne cruise

About halfway through, we ordered hot chocolate to warm us up. It was pretty good! I mean, Swiss chocolate is famous for a reason. This wasn’t the fanciest Swiss chocolate, but it was still better than the average hot chocolate you’d get on a boat in the USA. This one even came with an extra little tiny square of Swiss chocolate for eating.

Swiss hot chocolate
Swiss hot chocolate
Dining inside where it was warm
Dining inside where it was warm

There is food for sale on the boat as well, but the choices vary depending on the season, the day, and even the time of day you take the cruise.  Check their website for more information about lunch or dinner cruises.

Also, there was a soap grater in the bathroom. It was just like the parmesan graters at Olive Garden, except it was for soap and it was in the bathroom. I took a picture:

Soap grater
A soap grater!

Scenic highlights of the trip:

Seeing William Tell’s chapel:

Four frescoes inside tell the story: 1. William Tell shoots an apple off his son's head with an arrow 2. Tell escapes from a boat by leaping on to shore at this very spot during a storm on Lake Lucerne 3. Tell shoots the tyrant Gessler who had captured him on the boat 4. The oath of the Swiss confederates to the Rütli
Four frescoes inside tell the story: First, William Tell shoots an apple off his son’s head with an arrow.  Then, Tell escapes from a boat by leaping on to shore at this very spot during a storm on Lake Lucerne.  Next, Tell shoots the tyrant Gessler who had captured him on the boat. The last fresco shows the oath of the Swiss confederates to the Rütli.

Passing by the Schiller stone:

Schillerstein
Schillerstein: dedicated to the poet Friedrich Schiller, who wrote the drama about William Tell

Admiring the quaint little houses and chapels along the shore:

Lake Lucerne

Look at those fall colors!
Look at those fall colors!

Map of the lake

Map of Lake Lucerne and ferry stops
Map of Lake Lucerne and ferry stops

2 thoughts on “Cruise on Lake Lucerne

  1. Melanie says:

    Hi!

    Great write-up and photos!

    We plan to go Mt Rigi using the boat to and fro at the beginning of April next year. However, different from you, we won’t be holding the Swiss Pass, just the Swiss Half Fare Card. Meaning we still need to pay for the boat tickets, albeit at 50% off.
    Is it worth it getting the 1st class ticket? If we just buy the 2nd class ticket we won’t be allowed on to the deck at all, right?

    Tq, Mel

    • Amy says:

      Mel,

      We got the 2nd class tickets and it was a wonderful experience! 1st and 2nd class each have a separate deck; 1st class is the upper deck and 2nd class is the lower deck, but 2nd class is still above water level and the views are just as good! You can go out and walk around almost the entire boat. I think first class may have nicer seating, but since you’ll be on your feet looking at the scenery most of the time anyway, I’d say 2nd class is just fine 🙂

      Amy

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