During the summer season, CGN offers the largest number and variety of Lake Geneva boat cruises ranging from day excursions to gourmet meals, dinner and sunset cruises, Belle Époque paddle steamers, and regular ferry crossings of Lac Léman.
In summer, CGN pleasure cruise boats sail on Lake Geneva throughout the day. Cruise excursions depart from various ports but Geneva, Nyon, Yvoire, Lausanne, Vevey, and Montreux are popular starting points. In addition to regular pleasure cruises, food is available on most Lake Geneva cruise boats with special dinner and lunch cruises sailing daily from especially Geneva and Lausanne. The romantic early twentieth-century Belle Epoque paddle steamers are the best for cruising on Lake Geneva but more modern boats also operate on many sightseeing cruises — ticket prices are the same, so opt for the steamboats if possible. Regular passenger ferry services connect Nyon in Switzerland with Yvoire and Chens in France and Lausanne with Thonon and Evian.
Summer Cruises on Lake Geneva, Switzerland
CGN’s summer schedule is in operation from mid-June to mid-September (with additional cruises in most of July and August). Boat cruises are available daily with additional excursions on weekends and national holidays. Passenger ferries operate year-round on Lac Léman to connect Swiss and French cities.
Special savings tickets and deals are available to reduce the cost of cruising on Lake Geneva. Most Swiss railway and transportation discount passes and travel cards are accepted on CGN Lac Léman boats.
Cruising on Belle Epoque Paddle Steamers on Lake Geneva, Switzerland
CGN has eight Belle Epoque paddle boats of which currently five are sailing on Lake Geneva on regular excursion cruises during summer. These boats, which date from the early twentieth century, offer nostalgia and comfort to Lac Léman cruises. These historic boats require no surcharge (nor time penalty!) making it worth adjusting programs to enjoy these grand boats rather than more modern diesel-powered vessels, which sometimes replace the steamers on some sailings on certain days or at short notice.
The Belle Epoque steamboats usually cruise as follows on Lake Geneva (only main stops are listed):
- La Suisse (1910) – three times per day from Lausanne to St Gingolph and on to Chateau de Chillon before returning to Lausanne via the Lavaux. Three hours for the full circular cruise. Pick this boat (and the cruise past the Lavaux) if scheduling allows.
- Montreux (1904) – daily from Lausanne to Chateau de Chillon Castle and back. Around 100 minutes one way. Also dinner cruises from Lausanne. It also frequently cruise to Nyon and Yvoire.
- Savoie (1914) – daily from Geneva to Yvoire (via Nyon) and back. Almost two hours each way. Also lunch and dinner cruises from Geneva.
Two further Belle Epoque paddle boats are fitted with modern diesel engines and they sail on Lake Geneva year-round:
- MS Vevey (1907) – returned to service in 2013 after a full restoration. In summer, the Vevey cruises from Lausanne to Geneva and back with dinner cruises from Geneva.
- MS Italie (1908)– resumed passenger cruises on Lake Geneva in 2016, after a decade out of service, and cruise mostly in the Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, and St Gingolph area.
Lunch, Dinner, Sunset, and Gourmet Meal Cruises on Lake Geneva Boats
Food and drinks are served on almost all CGN boats cruising on Lake Geneva. Full meals and restaurant service are available on most boats cruising during meal times. However, special lunch, dinner, sunset, and gourmet cruises also sail most days during summer. Meals are almost always optional (and charged for separately) although special combination deals may be purchased too. Food is generally of a very good standard and priced similarly to regular Swiss restaurants (i.e. rather expensive!)
- Cheese fondue is only served on Friday cruises during the winter and shoulder seasons and never in summer.
Lake Geneva boat cruises are mostly booked for the departure and arrival cities even if a variety of cruise names are used in advertising. It is usually possible to interrupt journeys en route but specify the stops when buying tickets, or ask on the boat if such stop would require a surcharge.
Boat excursions on Lac Léman are on four basic routings — only main stops are listed, in summer, boats also call at many smaller ports:
- Geneva circular roundtrip cruises — usually around an hour.
- Geneva to Lausanne — almost four hours — often with stops possible at amongst Morges, Nyon, and Yvoire (in France).
- Upper Lake area from Lausanne to St Gingolph with stops amongst others at Montreux, Vevey, and Chateau de Chillon. This is the most beautiful part of the lake and the best area to cruise in.
- Ferry services — short crossings between Switzerland and France — from Lausanne to Evian and Nyon to Yvoire.
The historic paddle steamers are the best choice and cost the same as more modern boats — paddle steamboat cruises are usually clearly marked as such in the published timetables.
Short Pleasure Cruise Boat Excursions on Lake Geneva
In addition to the longer boat cruises along long stretches of Lake Geneva, several shorter cruises are also available. Popular cruises include:
Beautiful shores of Lake Geneva (Belles Rives Genevoises) – hour-long circular cruises sailing six times per day from Geneva.
The French Coast Cruise (Villes Fleuries de France) – up to four times per day from Evian to Yvoire and vice versa with stops in various French towns. (Good ferry crossings are available to Nyon and Lausanne in Switzerland.)
The frequent passenger ferry boat services also offer great opportunities year-round for short cruises on Lac Léman.
More on Lake Geneva Pleasure Boats and Cruises:
- Pleasure Boats and Ferries on Lake Geneva
- Lake Geneva Boat Cruises in Spring
- Passenger Ferries on Lake Geneva
- Passenger Ferries and Cruises from Lausanne to Evian and Thonon
- Savings Tickets for CGN Lake Geneva Boat Cruises
- Summer Lake Geneva Boat Excursions and Day Cruises
- Spring & Autumn Cruises on Lake Geneva
- Winter Cruises on Lake Geneva
- Pleasure Boat Excursions to Yvoire
- See the Historic Paddle Steamers at the Parade Navale
- New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruises on Lake Geneva