Did you know?
The Cruise Café on board the Paddle Cruiser carries a 4-star SA Tourism Council grading.
Ask anyone who’s been on a big, old river paddle boat like, say, the Cajun Queen, – a majestic craft that plies the Mississippi out of the American blues city of New Orleans – and they’ll tell you there’s no finer way to be on the water.
South Africa’s only paddle cruiser, Knysna's Paddle Cruiser, operated by the Featherbed Company, and therefore often known as the 'Featherbed Paddle Cruiser', is to be found on the Knysna Lagoon in the heart of the Western Cape’s Garden Route. And being on it at sundown is right up there with the Cajun Queen river ride.
The seabirds fly home to roost, the setting sun streaks the sky with ochre tones, and a soft breeze over the lagoon cools the summer evening: we’re on the Featherbed Paddle Cruiser and tonight it’s all about a whisky-tasting cruise – a special Knysna Oyster Festival event.
In the stateroom, a jazz band is playing a Big Easy classic, folks in evening dress are sipping single malt and grilled prawns are being passed around by the plate. The whisky at each stall – and there are plenty of them – keeps getting better as we move along.
Eventually, glass in hand, we emerge onto the deck and look back across the lagoon at the lights of Knysna. This could be the French Riviera. Or a mini-version of San Francisco Bay. But it’s even better: elegant Africa at her best.
The Paddle Cruiser normally leaves from the Featherbed terminus and does 90-minute lunchtime and two-hour dinner cruises. It takes more than 100 passengers, who have access to two bars, one on each deck.
The Paddle Cruiser makes its way to the famous Knysna Heads and meanders back to the terminus. Some cruises go over the lagoon to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, where you can take a 4x4 ride through the reserve and have the option of a 2km walk, then lunch at the reserve's restaurant.
Conventioneers love the Paddle Cruiser; wedding couples love it even more; and whisky tasters say there’s no finer place to enjoy uisege beatha (pronounced ooshki-bah) – the water of life …
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
The Paddle Cruiser departs from the Featherbed terminus near Thesen Island at the Knysna Lagoon. Knysna is a popular seaside resort on the Garden Route.
Best time to visit
Knysna is a perfect summer destination, and good in winter for those who like to visit when it's a little quieter, though the weather isn't as nice.
Around the area
You're in the heart of the Garden Route. There are enough destinations around here to keep you occupied for anything from a few days to two weeks.
Tours to do
Forest tours; Prince Alfred Pass; Plettenberg Bay; Storms River canopy tours; walking tours all through the area; Knysna township tours.
Park your vehicle anywhere between the commercial centre of town and Thesen Island and most spots are then within walking distance. For the cruiser ride, park at the Featherbed terminus parking lot.
What will it cost
Lunchtime cruise: Cross the lagoon to the Featherbed Reserve, have a 4x4 ride through the reserve and the option of a 2km walk, then lunch at the reserve's restaurant: R420 per adult; tickets for children aged 4-10 cost R90; children aged 11-15, R200.
Supper cruise: Cruise the lagoon, enjoy a buffet supper and a cash bar: R370 per adult; tickets for children aged 4-10 cost R100; children aged 11-15, R190.
90-minute cruise of the lagoon (a la carte meal excluded): adults R150; children under 15 R65.
Length of stay
Approx. 2 hours to half a day or an evening, depending on which option you choose.
What to pack
Pack a light jacket in summer in case a wind comes up over the water; in winter, dress warmly.
Where to stay
Knysna Tourism's website will provide you with details of any kind of accommodation you might require.
What to eat
Knysna's seafood restaurants are very popular.
Check the Knysna Tourism website for dates of the Knysna Oyster Festival and other events.
The waterfront shops at Knysna (Quay 4) offer upmarket mementos of your visit.