The Dolly Steamboat Way of Life

By Lynette Carrington

The Dolly Steamboat Way of Life

Anybody can go out and find a job, but it’s an entirely different story altogether when a job finds you. For one employee of the Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake, it seems that the majestic sternwheeler beckoned him. Ron Spence’s journey to the employ of Dolly Steamboat began with a simple trip.

“We took a trip down here to visit and went on a Dolly Steamboat cruise,” says Spence who had been living in Kansas. “I had told my wife when we were on that cruise, ‘This is what I want to do.’” He was very drawn into the area of Canyon Lake, where Dolly Steamboat operates, and fell in love with the thought of making the experience his job.

When the couple moved to Arizona earlier this year, an opportunity to work aboard the Dolly Steamboat arose and it was full steam ahead for Spence. “I jumped at that and it worked out,” he states. “I got hired and it’s been a dream job.”

Currently, Spence is a Dolly Steamboat crew member, accompanying the boat on Canyon Lake cruises and assisting guests before, during and after a trip. “I do everything from working the ticket booth and giving out boarding passes to working concession,” states Spence. “One of the really cool things is that part of my responsibility is to make sure the guests have a great time, and if we see big horn sheep or eagles or rock formations, I point those out as part of the beauty of Canyon Lake. It really is beautiful.” He personally singles out the chance to watch growing eaglets near the lake as one of his most memorable things he has experienced thus far.

During the month of September, Dolly Steamboat will be coming out of the water until approximately mid-to-late September 2017. It will be pressure washed on the underside, sand blasted and inspected,” explains Spence. “All the pontoons will be recoated, and the engine pod which contains the engines that drive the boat and the generator, those will be removed and inspected. This will be a chance to inspect the boat, top to bottom in a way we can’t when it’s in the water.” Some other upgrades will also be included in the coming month, including air conditioning added to the upper deck.

The Dolly Steamboat Cruises

The Dolly Steamboat Twilight Dinner Cruise is 2 ½ hours and includes a full buffet dinner as you watch the sun sink behind the cliffs and capture the desert beauty as the moon rises and the stars reveal themselves. Catering is provided by Let's Celebrate Catering of Arizona and the menu always includes two entrees; beef or pork, and chicken. The food alone continually receives rave reviews! Private charters are also available for just about any event. The Dolly Steamboat has full catering available for guests who need it.

They also offer a special 2 ½ hour Astronomy Cruise (including dinner) with “Dr. Sky,” Steve Kates who will give cruise guests a breakdown of the night sky and interpret the constellations in a fun and engaging way. He uses a red laser beam to point to and distinguish the stars about which he is speaking. This is the perfect time to learn more about our galaxy of stars!

For additional information on the Dolly Steamboat, cruise schedule, a photo gallery, convenient online reservations and directions to the Canyon Lake Marina, visit For any other questions or to arrange private charters or corporate events, please call (480) 827-9144.