Vavra wants to make Maiden Voyage tours work for both Marquette and McGregor
By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor
Maiden Voyage owner Robert Vavra spoke with the McGregor City Council May 21, clarifying that he would like to pick up tour-goers in both Marquette and McGregor. This came a week after he approached the Marquette City Council about possibly securing some permanent, handicap accessible dockage on their riverfront.
“In my perfect world, I’d like to work with everyone,” he said.
Vavra, whose original Maiden Voyage boat was condemned by the Coast Guard, is in the process of acquiring a new boat, which he said should be ready for tours by July or August. Getting handicap accessible dockage, he reiterated, is high on his to-do list. While the McGregor riverfront, where the tours are currently based, does not have a handicap accessible dock, the city is in the process of revamping the riverfront, making it more handicap accessible—something Vavra said he is aware of and excited about.
As a 49-passenger boat, the new Maiden Voyage, Vavra said, will have a higher capacity than its predecessor had.
“With 49, we’re back in bus world again,” Vavra said, explaining that he’s interested in bringing in multiple bus tours each week.
“I want to bring it around to a more viable business,” he said of the tours, since the new boat is such a big investment. “It will be extremely marketable, and I’d like to go into partnership with the MarMac area.”
Both council members and audience members expressed disappointment that he may leave, but Vavra reassured that he wants to make it work in both cities.
Mayor Harold Brooks suggested it might work to base the tours out of McGregor, then swing into Marquette to pick up other passengers.
“We’re willing to share you,” added councilman Joe Collins.
Vavra said working in both communities would also give his passengers the opportunity to enjoy all the area has to offer.
“It’s a Prairie du Chien, Marquette, McGregor area,” he said. “Every place has its own thing. There are just a pile of things to do in this area.”
Vavra said he feels like he’s been a team player over the years, getting different entities and aspects of the communities involved. With a couple months to go until his boat arrives, he said there is time for everyone to put their heads together and formulate a plan.
“I don’t want to get into a bidding war,” he said. “That’s the last thing I want. That’s not good for anybody.”
No matter what, Vavra said, he won’t leave the Mississippi.
“I’ve committed my funds to the Mississippi River,” he said. “The Maiden Voyage has allowed me to be a river boat captain, and [after it was condemned] I didn’t think I was done with that aspect of my life.”