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The Black-Eyed Susan Paddlewheel Riverboat: A nostalgic way to cruise the town


Baltimore's only authentic paddlewheel dinner boat: The Black-Eyed Susan.  All photos by Mark Beachy.

As the candy apple red paddlewheels churn, the sound of the water takes you back to a time when there weren't any cell-phones, TV, or Facebook.

Docked at the Baltimore Marine Center in Canton, the Black-Eyed Susan is an authentic "turn-of-the-century" style paddlewheel driven riverboat, reminiscent of the early era of Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Big cruise ships are known for their plentiful bounty of delicious food and professional entertainment.  Offering a more intimate setting than a large cruise ship, the Black-Eyed Susan serves up tasty food and a variety of fun entertainment, all without having to leave Baltimore!

The 73-year-old owner of the boat, Leonard Schleider utilizes all of his life experience in maintaining the operation of the boat cruise.  He says that he never wants to retire because the boat keeps him young. This former Marine runs a tight ship.  No pun intended!  Though you won't see him barking out orders.  Instead, the staff is like family to him saying, "they work with him, not for him."  One of the members of his staff, Lena has been working "with him" for about 45 years since she was only 16 years old!  

Developing his creative talents since the age of 16 when he began writing poetry as a way to "get problems off his head," Mr. Schleider was the architect for the interior of the boat as well as the one who named the boat.  Besides being named for the state flower, Leonard who has a marketing background, said that that he likes "to name things for what looks good on an invitation."


Captain Bob Waldron

Since 2000, the Black-Eyed Susan has been in operation. 

In 2004 the boat made a voyage to Florida where it was cut in half and made longer to make it more comfortable and spacious for guests.

Guests concerned about sea sickness should have no fear while Captain Bob Waldron is steering the boat.

Captain Waldron has been the man at the wheel for about 4 years.  He steers the boat so steady that there are no rocking motions.

Safety is always a top priority on the boat.  With a smile on his face, the Captain said, "If I'm doing my job right, I make this look easy."

Everyone on the boat is doing their job right.  This includes Chef Jeff who, the night I was on board, masterfully prepared hand cut tenderloin of beef with a Madeira demi glaze and broiled famous jumbo lump Maryland crab cake. I've tasted a lot of crab cakes and this is one of the best I've ever had.  The seasoning was just right with plenty of mouth-watering jumbo lump crab meat.

Like all the staff, Chef Jeff has a sense of humor.  When I asked him what a typical day was like for him, he said that his day is like one meal from the time he gets up until the time he goes to bed.


L to R: Brad Christman, Jill Redding, Rome Knight, Altorro Prince Black, Rob Lovett

All the food is freshly prepared at Mr. Schleider's catering company called Cameo Caterers and then cooked on the boat.

"We consider ourselves food people with a boat, not a boat with food," says Schleider.

Besides the boat and food, while on board, guests enjoy entertainment, ranging from comedy improv, a Neil Diamond tribute, and the night I was there, a murder mystery.

Produced by Herb Otter Productions, the murder mystery is performed throughout the dining room by 5 hilarious actors.

The actors have a script, but don't let the written words get in the way of good comedy, improving many of the funniest, unpredictable moments.

Herb Otter says "Our style is improvisational which is different from other companies. Other groups tend to have part script and part improvisational performance; there is interaction with audience members but for limited periods of time. We, instead of having a performance depending on the vision of a director, let the team of performers provide their best interpretation and support for other members of the team. The fluidity of the show then fits the needs of the night and audience, allowing performers the flexibility to provide, at a moments notice, their best efforts."

In addition to the public cruises, the boat is available seven days a week; ideal for weddings, rehearsal dinners, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, proms, banquets, corporate functions, and crab feasts.

The Black-Eyed Susan is truly a nostalgic way to cruise the town. 

BELOW is a VIDEO of the Black-Eyed Susan.

 

For additional information or to visit the Black-Eyed Susan, please contact:

Corporate Office:
2700 Lighthouse Point East
Suite 130
Baltimore, Maryland 21224

410-342-6960 tel
1-866-622-8220 tel toll-free
410-342-6964 fax

UPCOMING PUBLIC CRUISE SCHEDULE:

Saturday,
August 21, 2010

 
Comedy Improv Cruise
 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sunday,
August 29, 2010
Sunday Brunch Cruise
 11:30 am - 2:00 pm
Sunday,
August 29, 2010
Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise
 "And the Widow Wore Chartreuse"
 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Friday,
September 10, 2010

 
Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise
 "Alienated by Murder"
 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

 
Sunday,
September 26, 2010
Neil Diamond Tribute Cruise
 with international performer Marcus Dagan
 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Sunday,
September 26, 2010
Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise
 "Bonded by Murder"
 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Sunday,
October 3, 2010

 
Sunday Brunch Cruise
 11:30 am - 2:00 pm
 
Saturday,
October 9, 2010
Comedy Improv Cruise
 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Saturday,
October 16, 2010

 
Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise
 "Carnival of Dreams"
 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sunday,
October 24, 2010

 
 Neil Diamond Tribute Cruise
 with international performer Marcus Dagan
 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Sunday,
October 24, 2010

 
Murder Mystery Dinner Cruise
 "Murder Most Fowl"
 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

 

MARK BEACHY
Performing Arts Reporter
Baltimore Examiner
beachyreporter@yahoo.com
 

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