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River boat charters dining and day cruises around Lake Guntersville

Searching for the best way to experience beautiful Lake Guntersville this summer? Set sail on “Sweet Afton,” a 60-foot dining excursion boat that offers fun, adventure and the best views on the Tennessee River.

Captain Mark Mills and his wife and first mate, Bren Owens, sailed “Sweet Afton,” named for the city she hailed, in late April, from Minnesota to Guntersville. The Millses brought along two other captains for the three-week, 1,277-mile expedition. The journey began on the St. Croix River, winding down the Mississippi River to the Ohio River and, finally, the Tennessee River, before “Sweet Afton” reached her new home at Lake Guntersville’s City Harbor.

Both Mills and Owens have extensive boating knowledge. Mills, originally from Chicago, grew up on Lake Michigan and has always held a love for the water and boats. He attended a Coast Guard Sailing School and was a crew member on Oklahoma City River Cruises, The American Queen River Boat and The Southern Belle River Boat in Chattanooga before owning and operating his own rover boat business. 

Owens is from the Albertville/Guntersville area. With a background in accounting, Owens has always had a love for the lake, which eventually grew to a love for boating. She also worked on Oklahoma City River Cruises and the American Queen River Boat, as well as Shoreline Sightseeing in Chicago.

Lake and River Fun was established in 2018, initially with a much smaller pontoon boat. Although the business was successful, according to Captain Mark, it was the new City Harbor development in Guntersville that inspired his and Bren’s decision to buy “Sweet Afton.”

“Tourists love boats, and seeing the beauty of the lake,” Mark said. “City Harbor kind of prompted us to buy ‘Sweet Afton.’ We felt like the bigger boat was a better fit for the City Harbor.”

After some renovations, the river boat was ready to set sail. “Sweet Afton” holds 34 people over three different seating areas: The top level, the main level near the bow, and inside, which is climate controlled, enabling cruises to run through the end of the year. Special events throughout the year include Father’s Day cruises, a fireworks tour for July 4, fall color cruises and “Haunt the River” during October, and end with an exciting New Year’s Eve cruise.

Currently, Captain Mark and First Mate Bren offer dinner cruises on Saturday nights; tours to the “Bat Cave,” a popular local spot, on select Friday nights; Sunday brunch cruises, catered by local eatery Mimi’s Country Kitchen & Bakery; as well as sightseeing cruises on Sunday afternoons. Private charter events are also available, which could alter the typical weekend schedule and is why you should frequently check their schedule online if interested in booking a cruise. You can also find more information on their Facebook page or by calling (256) 677-8124.

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