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Chattanoogas Southern Belle Riverboat ~ Chattanooga TN

Oh happy day! We discovered that Chattanooga has a river boat cruise on a gorgeous, historical paddle boat that reminds me of the Mark Twain at Disneyland...only it is in on a real river, in the South!

The Southern Belle Riverboat is the perfect setting for a romantic Chattanooga dinner cruise or a fun night out for the family. This Chattanooga boat has a nightly dinner cruise with its famous prime rib with an evening tour of the Tennessee River. They also travel the river with breakfast and lunch cruises, and do weddings, reunions and more – there is something to delight all ages.

We headed down to the Southern Belle on a balmy, Friday evening in July. The weather was perfect, not too hot, just right for our mother-daughter adventure weekend. We secured parking (see note below) and were extra careful to make sure we could safely park there for the whole cruise. We had some time to spare, so were able to explore Chattanooga's famous Riverwalk before boarding.

Boarding the ship was simple and quite fun. The entire crew treats you like you are long-lost family and they have been waiting for you to show up! They remained upbeat and fun for the entire voyage.

We began by going in the dining room area and finding our seats, as the cruise took off and we waited for the buffet to begin. I was a little amazed at how many people fit inside the riverboat – and we had a great time getting to know our seatmates. We had fun with some live music that brought back memories. They kept us laughing until it was our table's turn to make our way up to the buffet.

The buffet line was long, and overloaded with food! We started at one end and worked our way to the other, in orderly fashion. I am not a huge prime rib fan, but was pleasantly surprised. They hand carved the ideal slab of prime rib, and I got a ton of yummy horseradish sauce for it. Overall, dinner was satisfying, especially coming from a buffet.

Then we were off to check out the river views, on the deck. We had a great time wandering around the boat, checking out the gorgeous, ever changing views of Chattanooga, as the sun went down. It was truly stunning – so much to see and learn about Chattanooga, it made me want to come back and go to all of the cool places we saw!

Coming from California and living at the beach for many years, I had been on many Pacific Ocean voyages and dinner cruises and always loved them. How would the river compare? It was absolutely wonderful - different and it was an absolute PLEASURE not having to deal with what can sometimes be a violent rocking in the ocean. No salty sea air, which was definitely missed, but overall the Southern Belle Riverboat dinner cruise was a better cruise! No worries of seasickness, few other boats to deal with, no oil spills, it was truly a lovely experience on the gentle Tennessee River!

Overall, our evening excursion on the Southern Belle Riverboat was fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed it and had a great time. Highly recommended, family friendly and fun. Just tell the kids that Mark Twain would approve!

A note on parking:

Yes, it is common to pay to park and downtown Chattanooga is no exception! It is wise to park your car in a CLEARLY marked spot that you pay for. Be very clear on what time you will be doing your cruise, how long you will actually be on the ship and what the specifications are for that day of the week/time span and how it relates to your parking spot. That way, you can enjoy your cruise with NO surprises!


Chattanooga Riverboat
201 Riverfront Parkway, Pier 2
Chattanooga TN 37402-1616
(423) 266-1616 or (800)766-2784