Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have catering services on the boat?

Yes! We have added galley kitchen that is housed on the Miss Lily barge. This allows us to provide in-house catering to our customers and provide you high quality freshly made food. This is an exciting addition to our services and provides you a full package. Private charters have never been easier; choose your date, time, and menu and leave the rest to us.


Do you have a bar on the boat?

Yes. We have a liquor license which has allowed us to install a bar on the Valley Gem. Take a look at our Bar Services page to see our drink menu.


Can I bring my own food?

No. As of 2019, we are no longer allowing outside caterers on the boat.  You can bring potluck and snacks but no restaurants or caterers may bring food on the Valley Gem. We have a great catering menu if you'd like to have a meal served.


Do you allow smoking on the boat?

All of our public tours are now smoke free.  If you are renting the boat privately, then we leave smoking permissions to the organizer of the event.


Can I bring my own alcohol?

No. The Valley Gem has now obtained a liquor license and runs a full service bar on board. Because of this, we cannot allow outside alcohol to be brought in.


Can I decorate?

Sure, just remember that confetti and lit candles are prohibited. We have battery powered votives, foliage, fall decorations, electrical outlets upstairs and down, and icicle lights. You're more than welcome to bring your decorations to the landing prior to your rental . If we have time and you give us precise written instructions, we will put your decorations out.


What if it rains?

The lower deck is completely enclosed with heat or air conditioning. The upper deck has an awning over half of it. The awning is for sun protection and has small weep holes in it for rain water to seep through. However, it can shield most of the deck it covers from rain when it isn’t blowing. Depending on your event, we can have a rain plan.


Does the boat have restrooms?

Yes. There are two women’s heads and a men’s head and urinal.


Can I get sea sick?

You can but most people will themselves to be sick before they actually get on board the boat. Remember the rivers are not the ocean and do not have waves in them.


Will the boat sink?

Any boat can sink, but it would take catastrophic damage to cause the Valley Gem to sink. The standards for passenger vessels today are exceptionally stringent. After the Titanic Sank in 1912 most vessels were required to have sealed watertight bulkheads subdividing a vessel into several small ones. The Valley Gem has six watertight compartments and can withstand two compartments being completely flooded before sinking. We also have bilge pumps that can dewater damaged compartments and stabilize the boat. Remember, most places we travel the water is only 12 feet deep, so if the boat were to sink the upper deck would be dry.


Are there enough life jackets?

Yes. In fact we have more life jackets than the USCG requires. We ask that passengers not touch the life jackets unless instructed to do so.


My child is active, can he/she wear a life jacket?

Yes. We have special life jackets for children who may be high risk of climbing the railing. However, if you have a child with behavioral problems you should avoid bringing them onboard.


Is the boat safe?

The boat is very safe. We try to meet or exceed the United States Coast Guard Standards in every area of inspection. If we see a problem that the Coast Guard doesn’t address we will. We want our passengers to have a great time and be safe.


Can I get married on the boat?

Yes. You can have your clergy perform the ceremony or have Captain Sands perform it (small fee required).


Will the captain marry us?



Is the paddlewheel real?

Yes the paddlewheel is real.


What makes the paddlewheel turn?

We have a 500 horsepower Detroit Diesel engine that is coupled to a ZF W325 Marine transmission. The transmission turns a primary chain reduction which drives the final chain that is coupled to the paddlewheel. Total reduction is 60 to 1.


Is the paddlewheel efficient?

Yes. It is 87% efficient at 7.4mph. A similar propeller-driven vessel would be pressed to be 70% efficient at the same speed.


What happens if I fall overboard?

It is virtually impossible to fall overboard. The railing height meets the 42” height of the USCG. To fall overboard would require some climbing, but if it did happen we would first throw you a life ring and then pick you up with our gangway. Jumping off of any federally inspected passenger vessel is a crime, and can be followed by civil fines and/ or jail time if found to be intentional.


Is there food available on the public tours?



Can I use your microphone?

Yes. There is a microphone jack in the pilot house and two downstairs at the bow and stern.


Do you have a sound system?

Yes. You may play mp3 players or CD’s on it. The CD player is in the pilot house along with the ipod adapters.


Can my band patch into your sound system?

We have low level RCA inputs. If that will work then yes.


Is the river dirty?

No. There have been many studies over the years that indicate the Ohio and Muskingum rivers at Marietta are very clean. This is evident by the variety of fish in the river.


Is there good parking?

Yes and No. Our parking lot is located under the Washington St. bridge in Marietta OH. There are four handicapped spots located at the lower end of the lot. If your group or tour is having over 100 passengers sometimes you will have to park in the Ohio River museum lot or on Front St.


How do I reserve the boat privately?

Have your list of dates and times ready and call us at 740-373-7862 or email us at You can find more information about private rentals on this web site!


How do I reserve the boat for a public tour?

You can call or visit the Public Tours page on this web site.


I want linens, can you get them?

Yes! We have a fantastic linen service that provides superb quality tablecloths, skirting, and napkins. We have a limited number of skirts that may be used for your event.


What is the cruising season for the Valley Gem?

April 1 through Dec 31. Our public cruise schedule doesn’t begin until May and ends in October. We have extended the dockside rentals for the Valley Gem until January.


Is the Valley Gem handicapped accessible?

Yes. Access to the Miss Lily and and Valley Gem are a series of ramps. However, the angle of these ramps may vary due to the river level and passenger load on the boats. Our crew will assist you with the gangways if necessary.


Are there a lot of stairs to get from the parking area to the boat?

There are no stairs. There are only stairwells that lead to the upper deck.


Is there a changing table in the restroom?



What is a Captain?

The captain (alt. master or shipmaster) of a merchant vessel is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under captain's authority.


What is a deckhand?

An able seaman (AB) is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. An AB may work as a watchstander, a day worker, or a combination of these roles.


How rigorous is the Valley Gem inspected?

There are two kinds of inspections: Safety and Security.



Inspections of vessel safety systems includes the following:


Hull inspection to ensure seaworthiness of vessel.

Main/auxiliary power inspection to ensure safe and operable machinery for vessel propulsion and emergency power.

Boiler inspection to ensure that it is structurally sound with operable safety devices.

Electrical systems inspection to ensure satisfactory installation of wiring and equipment.

Lifesaving systems inspection to ensure satisfactory and adequate means to abandon ship.

Firefighting systems inspection to ensure fixed and portable devices are suitable for the intended space and type of fire.

Navigation inspection to ensure adequacy and operation of navigation equipment.

Pollution prevention inspection to ensure compliance with international regulations and domestic laws.

Inspections of vessel security systems includes the following:


Verification of security related documents and certificates such as the ship security plan, International Ship Security Certificate and Declaration of Security.

Ensure appropriate training drills and exercises are being conducted.

Ensure required onboard security procedures are in place.


How much fuel does the Valley Gem use?

With air conditioning on at 7.5 mph cruising speed we use 4 gallons per hour.


How big is the fuel tank?

1880 Gallons


What happens with the sewage?

The black water from the toilets is piped into a large sewage tank under the bathrooms. We use onboard pumps to pump the sewage off into the Marietta City Sewage System.


What type of paint is the bottom painted with?

The primer is called Catha Coat 302H (24 pounds of zinc per gallon) and the black topcoat is called Dev Tar 5A HS. This paint should last about 15 years.


How old is the Valley Gem?

It was constructed in 1988 and 1989. So April 1, 2011 she will be 22 years old. It is not uncommon for a vessel like the Valley Gem to last for 75 years if well taken care of.


Where does the water in the bathrooms come from?

We use river water that is pumped from the Starboard Stern. That explains why the water may look muddy in the toilets. We cannot carry enough water to be able to use in the restrooms.


Where does the water in the Portside Cafe come from?

We have a 400 gallon fresh water tank that we fill with Marietta City Water.

©2019 Valley Gem Sternwheeler | 601 Front Street, Marietta, OH 45750 | 740.373.7862 |