We are back from Branson, MO, and what a time we had! I can safely say this was the busiest, most action-packed vacation we’ve been on – and it was awesome. Branson is a fabulous place for family entertainment, and we didn’t waste any time getting started. Within an hour of arriving, we were onboard the Showboat Branson Belle for a dinner cruise!
I have not been on a dinner cruise in a long, long time…and certainly not since having kids…so I was a little unsure about what to expect. The cruise ended up exceeding our expectations and was one of the highlights of our trip. I am going to share our story and answer some of the questions I had prior to going on the cruise – my hope is that if you’re headed to Branson, this will help you decide if the cruise is a good match for your family!
But first, a quick rundown on what the Showboat Branson Belle is all about.
Operating for almost twenty years now, the Showboat Branson Belle takes passengers on a two-hour tour of the gorgeous Table Rock Lake (this is a really pretty lake, you guys). Passengers eat dinner while onboard, with meals prepared fresh in the ship’s galley. There is live entertainment during the meal, followed by a chance to tour the ship and enjoy the views. After stretching your legs, the entertainment resumes with award-winning shows that celebrate our American heritage.
Now – on to some of the questions I had (and that you probably have, too!).
What should I expect when I arrive?
We arrived about 15 minutes early. The ship makes for some impressive scenery – it’s gorgeous, and the area surrounding the dock is equally beautiful. There are plenty of places to sit and relax if you get there early. We walked right onboard, took a family photo (that I bought, because it’s awesome), and were immediately seated.
The wait staff was incredibly helpful and friendly, and dinner was served immediately (which is awesome when you have impatient and hungry little kids!).
What’s for dinner, and is it something my kids will eat?
Dinner was a roll with butter, a salad, and a chicken and roast beef dinner with potatoes and green beans. Followed by dessert. I’m super picky, and I ate my dinner. Dessert was a lemon torte. I can say my kids wouldn’t have been huge fans of the dinner, but they had food for the kids, too! The kids each got Mac & Cheese and chicken nuggets. They were more than excited about their dinners! Jack had been sick, so we didn’t want to give him any ice cream. Our server offered to bring the kids each a fruit plate – I loved that she went above and beyond to make the experience happy for everyone (which was much appreciated, because the “no ice cream” edict did not go over well with the younglings).
What are the seating arrangements like?
The seating is in rows. If you have a young child who needs to use the restroom frequently (AHEM, Claire), you might ask to be seated on an aisle – it will be easier than getting out from the center of the rows. We were seated about 4 rows back, and this was *perfect* for a great view of the show!
Is there a chance to walk around the ship?
Following dinner, you have about 30 minutes to check out the deck and enjoy the view. Extra bonus: you can also meet the Captain! Climb to the very top deck to meet the Captain and enjoy the best view. You can even see the paddles working.
Is the show appropriate for children?
The show was so good! The show paid homage to the USA, was fast-moving, and kept even my youngest (who is almost three-years-old) entertained. It’s all good, clean fun. And because it starts right after you’ve had a chance to walk around the boat, everyone is feeling fresh and ready to enjoy the entertainment.
Expect lots of fun songs you’ll recognize, sparkly outfits, and a live band. There is also a magician, and he was fabulous – funny for the adults, and had fun tricks for the kids.
What can I expect from the show?
I was not sure what to expect…I even thought it might be kind of hokey. But it wasn’t. The performers were TOP NOTCH, and they were amazing to watch. The talent was…incredible. We watched the show called Made in the USA, which is in its final year.
The magician, Christopher James, was also the Emcee. He was so funny, you guys…legit funny, not cheesy/kind-of funny. There were also performances by the live band and a group of vocalists called The Showmen, who performed songs you and your kids will know and love.
But the headliner was the real treat! Who knew we’d see a violin-playing aerialist while in Branson, MO! Janice Martin (who has appeared on America’s Got Talent) is a violinist, singer, pianist, aerialist, and Army veteran. She wowed the crowds – and my kids – with her above-air violin solo.
After the show, you have the chance to meet the performers. Claire was excited to meet Janice, who was wearing a sparkly red dress (we love sparkly anything around here).
In fact, Claire probably summed up the experience best when she said, “I like all the sparkles!”
The Showboat Branson Belle offers dinner and lunch cruises. Ticket prices start at $25 for kids and $49 for adults. You can book tickets and see the cruise schedules here.