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Discover Marietta’s Colorful Past Aboard the Valley Gem Sternwheeler

Experience the rich history of Marietta, one of Ohio’s oldest communities, as you embark on a serene cruise along the Muskingum and Ohio rivers this autumn. Discover the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings while aboard the Valley Gem Sternwheeler, a paddle-wheel boat that provides a glimpse into river life of the past.

Immerse yourself in Marietta’s captivating history as you enjoy a narrated sightseeing tour during your voyage.

Previously known as the Riviera, an enchanting dockside barge restaurant, the venue has been transformed into Major/Riviera, an exquisite event space. Soon the Riviera passenger barge will be propelled along the river by the Major Sternwheel Towboat, which is currently undergoing preparations.

Get ready for a range of exciting events aboard the Major/Riviera, including themed nights with live entertainment, book clubs, mixology classes, theater productions, and more. Meanwhile, the Valley Gem Sternwheeler hosts special occasions like country night, the roaring 20s, and the delightful String Sunday, held three times a year. This cruise provides the perfect setting to unwind, listen to music, and leisurely venture down the river.

Mark your calendar for the must-attend Safari Cruise in September, featuring an enticing menu curated by Executive Chef Casandra Clark, showcasing delectable wild game meat dishes. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary experience aboard the Valley Gem Sternwheeler as you  journey through time and savor exceptional cuisine.

Embarking on an educational adventure aboard the Valley Gem is an extraordinary and unforgettable experience for school groups. Students will venture into the captivating history of the settlements along the river. While aboard, the knowledgeable captain orchestrates a live narration explicitly tailored for young minds, ensuring a perfect blend of education and entertainment.

Experience a variety of individual and group tours aboard the Valley Gem Sternwheeler. Take your upcoming corporate event, wedding, reunion, or anniversary to new heights by embarking on an unforgettable adventure on this magnificent vessel. Visit for reservations and further information on upcoming events and trips.


Captain James “Jim” Sands had a dream fifty years ago, and the river called his name. Tired of the construction life, he wanted a job that allowed him to be with his family more. This began the Valley Gem that he and his wife, Peggy, risked everything to build the business.

The Valley Gem was operating in 1973 and carried 98 passengers. They soon realized they needed a bigger vessel, and Jim began designing a new Valley Gem. It launched in April 1989 and continues to operate today, carrying up to 290 passengers.

Since Jim’s passing in 1998 and Peggy’s in 2016, their youngest son Jason (J.J.), and wife, Heather, currently run the business. The business has gone through changes. Awnings, air conditioning, and food services have been added.

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