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 …