By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
The Lake George Steamboat Company expects to begin cruises on the Lac du Saint Sacrement, its biggest vessel, as early at June 17. That’s when Phase 3 could begin, including restaurants, in New York’s reopening from coronavirus restrictions.
“The Saint is a floating restaurant, predominantly,” Patricia Dow told The Chronicle. “It is a dinner-restaurant boat.”
“We are not thinking to do the Mohican or Minne Ha Ha as soon. The Saint has more space for social distancing.”
Mrs. Dow said, “It will be revamped slightly, and we are redesigning the schedule. It is still a work in progress….
“I don’t know if they [the State] will attach capacity of 50 percent, or if that will be attached to six-feet social distancing. It’s a big boat. I hope they don’t attach an arbitrary number like 50 percent. We’ve already missed a month of business.”
Mrs. Dow expects there to be sanitizing stations throughout the boat. People will sit strictly with family members only, no shared tables. Tables will be 10 feet apart, chairs six feet apart.
She expects the dinner will still be a buffet, but tables will come up individually, and only staff members will handle the utensils and they will serve all food.
“We are still working everything out, fine-tuning,” said Mrs. Dow. “Until you start doing it, you can’t see how it works. If you need, then you change it.”
They have “cough protocols” and shields in place, sanitation and “more vigilance in all these areas,” Mrs. Dow said. All staff will be required to wear masks.
Mrs. Dow said they are still discussing mask enforcement for guests. She said she is of a mind, “no mask, no boat.”
As for the Minne Ha Ha and Mohican, they are aiming for Phase 4, potentially by the first week in July, Mrs. Dow said.
The Steamboat Company typically hires around 300 or 350 people in a season.
Mrs. Dow said they do not intend to hire international J-1 workers this year. She said they would have to hold for a two-week quarantine period, and most work more than one job so she couldn’t guarantee the safety protocols they are following elsewhere. Also most live in close group housing, against ideal social distancing.
”It adds extra layers to the potential disease spread,” Mrs. Dow said.
“I would rather hire locally and support our local kids.”
“I have no idea if it will be a sustainable level of business,” she said. “No idea if there will be any demand, or none.”
Watching the village in recent weeks, Mrs. Dow said, “People definitely seem to want to be out and coming here from other places. One level of concern is I don’t see the percent of mask usage, and it is hard to maintain social distancing.”
She said plans are still afloat for the annual Rock the Dock concert on the Steel Pier, rescheduled from July 17 to Aug. 14.
Typically attendees watch from the pier and on the docked boats. “It’s a huge pier,” said Mrs. Dow. “We could social distance a lot of people here.”
She said music cruises aboard the Minne Ha Ha are also planned for later in the summer.
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