Argosy Cruises Team Member since 1992
Built by: Hueneme Boat Works, Long Beach, California
Homeport: South Lake Union, Seattle, Washington
For being both one of the smallest and youngest vessels in the Argosy Cruises fleet, the Queen's Launch may have the longest story of all of our vessels.
The Queen's Launch features an enclosed deck with bench seating and a circular staircase to the open sun deck. For a charter cruise on the Queen's Launch we recommend a maximum of 35 guests, but she can carry up to 60 passengers.
The origins of the Queen's Launch
The Queen's Launch was built in 1991 for Disney to provide local water taxi service from Long Beach to the Hotel Queen Mary, a permanently-moored 1,019-foot-long ocean liner (built in 1934, retired in 1967) turned hotel and attraction.
The hotel ship passed through many hands during her tenure in Long Beach, but it was during the Walt Disney Company's ownership (1988 to 1992) that the Queen's Launch came into being. A launch is an open motorboat that is carried on a larger ship and used to move passengers from ship to shore. This is how our Queen's Launch got her name -- she was to be a launch boat for Queen Mary guests back to the Long Beach waterfront.
When Disney decided not to move forward with their Queen Mary/waterfront theme park combo idea in 1992, the Queen's Launch went up for sale. Eighty-two years of history in one boat name -- and she never sailed the route she was built for!
The Queen's Launch comes to Seattle
Argosy Cruises (then Seattle Harbor Tours) acquired the Queen's Launch in 1992 and used her to run a brand new lake tour out of Kirkland: the 1 1/2-hour Lake Washington Cruise. In 1996 she was moved to South Lake Union to sail the brand new 1 1/2-hour combined Lake Washington and Lake Union Cruise. She was retired from active service in 2002 with the Sightseer. And just like the Sightseer, her retirement was short lived.
Jetty Island Ferry
In the summer of 2004 (and every summer since) the Queen's Launch serves as the Jetty Island Ferry up in Everett, Washington. From July 5 through Labor Day, the little boat with the long story provides free transportation (thanks to the City of Everett) to and from Jetty Island, a 2-mile long man-made island by the mouth of the Snohomish River. During recent summers she's carried about 50,000 people to the island, carrying around 1,000 passengers on her busiest days. That's a lot of cruising for a vessel that can only carry 60 passengers at a time!
On either side of the Jetty Island Ferry season, the Queen's Launch is available for charters and even steps in occasionally on one of her old tour routes, the Lake Union Cruise.