The History of Celebration River Cruises

Celebrating our 29th Year of Cruising!

Celebration River Cruises is a family owned and operated business. The Schadler family is involved in every aspect of the boat’s day to day operations from cooking the food fresh daily, helping serve their guests, keeping the engines running smooth, and even piloting the vessel.

Joe Schadler started the excursion boat business in Davenport, IA in 1984 with the Queen of Hearts, a three deck 400 passenger boat.  Mr Schadler had the boat made to order at Tucker Marine in Cincinnati, OH.

As word got around and the passengers began coming from miles around, Joe saw a need for more space. So in 1986, he purchased river front property in Moline, IL and moved the operation to Moline.

A few years later in 1993 after spending much of his boyhood watching and helping his father on the boat, Joe’s son, Scott became a full partner in the business. With Scott’s business sense and Joe’s knowledge of the industry, the business began to flourish.

As the business grew, the need for a larger vessel became apparent. In 1998, the Schadlers purchased the Celebration Belle, the largest non-gaming excursion riverboat in the Upper Mississippi River. The 800 passenger Celebration Belle was built in 1986 by Patti Shipbuilding of Pensacola, FL.

The larger boat also made way for new and exciting cruises. One such cruise that has become popular is the 100 Mile Day Long Cruise from the Quad Cities to Dubuque, IA. This cruise overwhelms it’s passengers with three homemade meals and live entertainment.

And with the popularity of the 100 Mile Day Long Cruise came other special cruises such as the Big Band Cruise and our Captain’s Prime Rib Dinner & Dance Cruise.  We have also added new ports to include cruises south to Hannibal, Mo and north to Prairie du Chien, WI. We also had an increase interest in  privately chartered cruises for wedding receptions, proms, and corporate outtings.

The Celebration Belle has significantly boosted tourism along the river. Visitors from as far as 1000 miles away come to the area to cruise the Mississippi River.  We have a large number of motorcoach groups that come to the Celebration Belle every year.  The Schadler’s host many international groups, including the King and Queen of Sweden.

For over 26 years of business, the state of Illinois named the Celebration Belle as one of it’s top forty attractions. In  the 25 years of business, the Schadlers have been involved in the Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois economy as restaurateurs and boat operators. They have demonstrated that their love of the river equals entrepreneurial success. Their pioneering spirit has been instrumental in making the Mississippi River a major national tourism attraction.