Orillia’s Island Princess cruise ship up for sale on Facebook Marketplace

The Island Princess docked on Lake Couchiching Photo courtesy of Allan Lafontaine

The owners of Orillia’s famous Island Princess cruise ship are looking to sell after troubles at the Orillia waterfront. 

The Island Princess sailed on Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching from 1984 until 2021, when it was docked permanently and converted into a restaurant and bar. It’s been a significant tourist attraction as a tour boat, a waterfront dining experience, and an event space.

On July 25, however, the boat’s co-owner, Wendy Striperski, listed the Island Princess for $275,000 on Facebook Marketplace. Kris Puhvel, the executive director of Orillia and Lake Country Tourism, says that a few factors likely led them to consider selling the Island Princess. 

“I think they’ve had an issue with getting insurance for sightseeing tourists. It’s very expensive for them to leave the dock,” he says. “The boat probably also has considerable upkeep costs.”

The biggest reason, however, is that the restaurant’s success has been limited by waterfront construction. As part of a multi-year townhouse redevelopment project, the city limited access to Centennial Drive from winter 2022 to fall 2023 to bury hydro lines and to install other underground residential accommodations.

“It’s more difficult to park down there, and that’s led to fewer people on the waterfront,” he says. “Because of this, the revenue just wasn’t there to sustain the Island Princess.”

This construction has made it more difficult to access the water in general according to Allan Lafontaine, Port of Orillia’s harbour master and the executive director of the Orillia Chamber of Commerce. The pandemic also drove away boat rental options: the last boat rental business near the Port of Orillia closed in 2020 due to staffing issues and increasing liability insurance costs. Since there are also no cruise ships left on Lake Couchiching—the only way visitors can get on the water is with their own boat.

“It’s had an impact on overall tourism,” Lafontaine says. “Every day busloads of people—a couple hundred—come up to go on a cruise.”

Lafontaine hopes whoever buys the Island Princess keeps it in Orillia after realizing its importance to the community. Ideally, they would also relaunch cruises.

“That’s the ultimate goal,” he says. “Going out on the water has been sorely missed.”

Striperski did not respond to requests for comment.

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