GALLIPOLIS — With the dropping of COVID-19 restrictions in the area, life has picked up in Gallia County and across the nation, and with it, a return to local traditions. Among those coming back this summer are the Belle of Cincinnati, a riverboat cruise that has usually stops in Gallipolis in the summer.
“The Belle of Cincinnati is one of many events that are taking place this summer and we hope to see more planned and the travel industry to see continued growth,” Amanda Crouse, the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director, said.
The Belle is the largest excursion boat on the Ohio River, according to Captain Ben Bernstein, the Chief Financial Officer of BB Riverboats, which owns the Belle. According to Bernstein, the boat has a capacity of a thousand people.
Crouse believes that the boat marks the return of normalcy to Gallia County after over a year of the pandemic, and hopes that other events follow it.
“With the vaccine more accessible to everyone now, we have seen travel increase over the past few months,” she said. “People have been under such restrictions the past year and a half, they are beginning to feel safe enough to get out and go places again without as much worry.”
“As far as COVID goes, we are not further reduced in capacity,” Bernstein said in an email to the Tribune. “Cleaning wise, our entire facility and vessels are protected with Microshield 360 which is a cutting edge coating that protects all of our guests from any transmission of COVID as well as other viruses and surface acquired diseases. Our regular cleaning continues to be a focus and can assure you that our cruises are safe.” Crouse hopes that the boat will boost the economy after the past year of shutdowns and limited capacities.
“Events are being scheduled again which draw visitors to Gallipolis and Gallia County which is good for tourism and our economy. Visitors will spend money in our shops, restaurants, businesses and stay overnight in our lodging facilities,” she added.
The Belle of Cincinnati will dock in Gallipolis on July 27. Tickets can be booked at bbriverboats.com. There are options for a lunch cruise, an afternoon sightseeing cruise, and a dinner cruise.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and attends Yale University.