We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Very interesting even if touristy”

Riverboat Discovery
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: More than just a boat ride! Board the Sternwheeler Riverboat Discovery for one of the most unique Alaskan experiences available! This three-hour cruise will take you into the heart of Alaska and introduce you to a family who has made the rivers of Alaska a way of life for five generations. You will see a bush floatplane takeoff alongside the boat, visit the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher and see her champion sled dogs in action. Be immersed into the ancient Athabascan Indian culture when our Alaskan Native Guides take you on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Stairs / elevator
DeLand, Florida
Level Contributor
143 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Very interesting even if touristy”
Reviewed August 23, 2013 via mobile

This could go either way for folks in that it is a pleasant trip on a Paddlewheel boat seeing river vegetation and wild life, and some incredible river front houses, but also kinda of hokey in staged visits with "characters" such as a float plane pilot landing and taking off on the river and visiting with a dog sled trainer and his kennel. Our tour director was like a ring master in his commentary. Highlight for me though was spending time learning about the Athabascan Indians at a recreated village. Athabascan guides explained some of the ways to catch fish with a fish wheel, prepare hides for clothing,build shelters, hunt for those animals as well as many other interesting topics. Delicious fresh baked blueberry muffins were free along with coffee on the boat ride. The main building is a huge souvenir store, restaurant and a room which you can go in to have your picture taken.....oh the temp is -45 degrees!

Visited August 2013
1 Thank pattio_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

1,343 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Long Beach, California
Level Contributor
164 reviews
64 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
“Surprisingly good”
Reviewed August 23, 2013

This was part of a free tour from Princess and sounded a little hoky to me.....it was very enjoyable.

The cruise boat is very comfortable and open - the weather the day were were there was perfect. You get an informative tour of the Fairbanks river area - including a boat view and stop at a dog sled kennel & training facility....very interesting and of course there were a dozen cute puppies. We stopped an walked a round a replica of a native Alaskan village which was very nice - plus we got to vist with some Alaskan huskies.

The guides were great - I really enjoyed the tour.

Visited August 2013
Thank LongBeachBoludo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Myers, FL
Level Contributor
50 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“A very pleasant surprise”
Reviewed August 21, 2013

This tour was included as part of our land tour package with Princess and we didn't have high expectations for a half day trip on a paddle wheeler in Fairbanks, but were so glad we had gone on the trip. The boat stopped to watch a sled dog demonstration at a facility run by Susan Butcher's husband, then stopped at a re-created Athabaska native village where young people from that culture gave demonstrations and talked about what we were seeing. It was a great way to spend a half day.

Visited August 2013
Thank GabrielsGrandpa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
106 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“A must do in Fairbanks!”
Reviewed August 20, 2013

Our family enjoyed this scenic riverboat tour on the Chena river. The tour is very well organized and provides a great overview of the history of the area, bush planes, dog sledding and let's you off the boat to visit a native village. It gets pretty crowded but overall we still had plenty of space to room around whether it is on the boat or the native village. You get free donuts and coffee on the way in and salmon spread on the way back. You can buy a copy of the late Iditarod Champion Susan Butcher's book and have it signed by her husband in the native village. If there is a long line on the island, he will sign it for you on the boat. There is a also very large gift store next to the pier where you can experience how -40 degree feels like in Fairbanks. It is free and you can purchase picture if you want. Come early if you want to do that as it gets quite crowded. We all enjoyed our nice scenic cruise on the Chena. There was so much packed into it that our kids had a good time from beginning to end. Definitely a must do in Fairbanks!

Visited July 2013
Thank GlobalKidsTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
144 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Great Time”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

This was one of our favorite trips we have taken. Watching the bush pilot, seeing the sled dogs and visiting the native village was informative and interesting. The people were friendly and very entertaining. This is not Disneyland or video games; you can actually learn and enjoy with the right, mature mindset. I will say the only negative comment would be the sausages they cook on the ship; they could improve on that. We would definitely take this trip again and plan to do so next month.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank SCraig7001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Riverboat Discovery also viewed


Been to Riverboat Discovery? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing