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Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

Saint Paul...
posts: 2,375
reviews: 43
Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

We are looking at doing a houseboat rental in Voyageurs NP for a group of 8-9. Basicaly my parents (in their 80's) with me & my two brothers and our wives (and maybe a grandkid). Slated for August 2012 but we are invstigating now and need ot make reservation by January.

After exploring via Google and other means we have come down to two operators - Voyagaire on Crane Lake or Ebels on Ash River. Both look good but Ebels is about $1,000 less for their largest boat for a week. Also Ebels is more central to either Namakan or Kabetogama where as Voyagaire is way down at Crane Lake (although the route up to Namakan could be interesting).

Looking to see if anyone has had relatvely recent experience with either. I found some reviews in old posts for Voyagaire but nothing for Ebels (yet). I am sure we would be very well off with Voyagaire (the one we first started researching) but saving a grand is worth considering too.

9 replies to this topic
Denver, Colorad
posts: 2
1. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

My folks live on the lake in the summer and have had friends renting from both. Each one will give you a good rental and take care of you. Having spent most of my time on Kabetogama my preference would be for Ebels.

Faribault, Minnesota
posts: 1
reviews: 2
2. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

I have done both. We started out in the mid 90's at Voyagaire and have went many times ALWAYS very satisfied. We did see Ebels was less expensive and did try it out for a week but are now back to Voyagaire. As a matter of fact we are going mid Sept. for color change season. Voyagaire keeps their boats up very nicely, they have wonderful service, including delivery service to your houseboat, and their Trivia is a blast for all ages. If the money issue will hurt you I am sure you can have a fine time with Ebels. We just prefer Voyagaire and you are right the trip through the narrows from Crane Lake is very Beautiful,

Saint Paul...
posts: 2,375
reviews: 43
3. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

Thanks for the opinions. I think in the interim we found that we need to go with Voyagaire due to need for overnight power to run CPAP for SIL and oxygen generator for Mom. M&D are going up in September to check them out.

Still thinking fo next August in order to have warmer days. One though though was if there is an end to deer fly season (short of first frost). Our recollection is they taper off by August.

posts: 699
reviews: 8
4. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

My experience with biting flies ends after a frost.

Some years with hot summers they seem to go on forever. I dislike the ankle biters more then the deer and horse flies. (The latter are bigger and easier to swat). Also there are sticky patches you can buy to put on your hat, (a favorite landing spot), that stops repeated harassment by the same fly.

Consider mid August, next year for the Perseid meteor shower. Voyagers would be a great place to see it.

Duluth, Minnesota...
posts: 1
5. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

Keep in mind that overnight generators emit Carbon Monoxide. Ebel's have rental CPAP battery packs.

Rapid City, South...
posts: 2
reviews: 195
6. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

This is bit after the fact; but to add to the discussion for anyone else looking for info--I would recommend Voyagaire all the way. We rented houseboats from them in 2010 and 2012 with my fiancé's family, but made the mistake of trying out Ebel's with my family in 2011. Their boats are fine, but their customer service is awful.

My fiancé, who is the only one that knows the park, had a sudden family illness and was going to be unable to go on the trip with us. I was FREAKING out about being the only one who had been to Voyageurs before, and was picturing us lost and dead in the middle of the wilderness and it being my fault. (A bit dramatic but whatever. It's a big park.) I called Ebel's to request the boat early on Sat so we weren't trying to find a site late in the day, and they said it wouldn't be possible, even for a fee. When we arrived Friday afternoon, the boat we ended up renting was sitting at the dock. Sat morning we walked down to Ebel's and there the boat sat...not being used, not being cleaned...no visible reason why we couldn't have taken it out.

Now as it turned out, my fiancé's dad, anticipating our demise (and being the quality man that he was), insisted that my fiancé come up North, so when I woke up Sat morning dreading the trip, there he was at the kitchen table. (Hence, why I'm marrying the man.) All ended up well, and we had a wonderful trip, but the refusal of Ebel's to make a simple adjustment to their policies for a customer in a bad situation, for seemingly no reason, has left a bad taste in my mouth ever since.

We have rented snowmobiles from Voyagaire the last 2 winters, and stayed in the lodge during one winter trip, we have enjoyed their restaurant when in the area but staying elsewhere, and time and again they are helpful, pleasant and a joy to deal with. Even when we request out of the ordinary accommodations (delivering snow mobiles to us in Tower; driving us back to our cabin after we rode the sleds to them, letting us store our boat there for a month between vacations) if they can do it, they will. They run a quality family owned business and we are always impressed at their service.

posts: 2
reviews: 7
7. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

Our family of nine spent a week on a n Ebel's houseboat. The learning curve was steep as we had never tried anything like this before. We would do it again now that we know the ropes somewhat. The staff was patient as we made our rookie mistakes, taking up their time. Voyageurs is definetly red America compared to Boundary Waters' granola eaters but that added to the new experience for us.

Concord, New...
posts: 21
reviews: 11
8. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

Dana, I would really like some more info re your experience with the houseboat. Our extended family (5 adults, 2 teens girls) are considering a week on a houseboat in the NP area in July of 2015. The only company we have looked at is Voyagaire at Crane Lake. We are novices as far a boating is concerned but comfortable in the water kayaking or canoeing. We are not fishermen, but we like quiet, wildlife, swimming & kayaking. I honestly have no idea what "red America" or "Boundary Waters granola eaters" are. Well, I do know granola eaters - there are a few of them in New Hampshire (but if I were one, I would be skinier!. (At a guess, I think there might be some "red Americans" here too). Please enlighten me. Thanks

Edited: 2:42 pm, September 02, 2014
posts: 2
reviews: 7
9. Re: Voyageurs NP Houseboats - Voyagaire or Ebels?

I should have been clearer in my post. Voyageurs is so big, the lakes are like inland seas , that canoes are not as feasible as in the Boundary Waters where the lakes are much smaller. Voyageurs is beautiful, we had a houseboat from Ebel's Houseboats and they were great. We were 9 people, 3 under 10, and we all had a wonderful vacation.

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