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Houseboat Rentals Provide A Memorable Vacation in Arkansas
June 2002

By Kerry Kraus, travel writer 
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

They have all the comforts of home -- and then some. They offer luxury travel with a capital "L." They are houseboats, one of the hot vacationing trends in The Natural State.

It's easy to understand why houseboating has become so popular among Arkansas vacationers. They provide solitude seekers a chance to truly get away from it all in some of the state's most scenic settings. A waterfront view is guaranteed, as is the opportunity for a variety of activities. From fishing, swimming, and deck-top grilling to wildlife watching, stargazing and simply spending quality time with friends and family, visitors can do about as much -- or little -- as desired. For the same reasons, houseboats are also becoming popular for family reunions, retreats and meetings.

These floating "homes away from homes" include everything a person needs for a memorable experience. Most have fully equipped kitchens, full bathrooms, washers and dryers, and televisions. Varying amenities include upper-deck hot tubs, compact disc players, satellite televisions, VCRs, central heat and air, wet bars and waterslides off the top deck. As the niceties vary, so do the prices, which are based on number of people and length of stay. Rentals run from one-day (prices not quoted below) and three-day trips, to weeklong trips. Prices quoted in this article cover a range from three-day to weeklong rentals and are subject to change without notice.

Arkansas lakes have facilities that rent houseboats. The boats come in various sizes, ranging from a 40-foot, six-person sleeper, to an 86-footer that sleeps 14. The following is a lake-by-lake description of what's available. 

Bull Shoals and Norfork

Located in Arkansas's Ozarks, the twin lakes provide beautiful backgrounds for houseboating. On Norfork, 101 Boat Dock has four models to choose from, and they range in size from a 40-footer to a 56-foot craft. The 40-foot vessel sleeps six and has double bunk beds, a double sleeper sofa and a dinette sleeper. The 44-foot boat sleeps 10 and has a private stateroom, a penthouse sleeper and a dinette which seats 12 and converts to a double bed. Provisions on the 47-foot boat, which sleeps 10, include dishes and kitchen utensils. Largest of the fleet is a 56-footer that sleeps 10. It features four queen bedrooms and dishes and kitchen utensils. All of the vessels at 101 Boat Dock come equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, gas grills, stereos, slides, patio furniture, and bed and bath linens. All but the 40-footer have televisions. Prices range from $550 to $1,400. Call (870) 467-5252, or visit www.101boatdock.com.

Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock on Bull Shoals has three houseboats to choose from -- a 40-foot and two 50-foot boats. The 40-footer sleeps 10 and has one full bath. It also includes a charcoal grill, stereo, refrigerator and stove. Of the two larger boats, visitors can choose from either the Bunk Bed Boat that sleeps 14 in five double beds and four single beds or the Wet Bar Boat that sleeps 10 in five double beds. Both have microwave ovens, televisions, VCRs, stereos, refrigerators, stoves and gas grills. Dishes and all cooking utensils are provided but linens are not. Prices range from $395 to $1,475. Call (870) 445-4424 or (870) 445-4166, or visit www.bullshoalslakeboatdock.com/boats.html.

All of the houseboat operators mentioned above provide onboard safety equipment required by the U.S. Coast Guard. Those interested in renting a houseboat should call early; as most of the boats are booked many months in advance. Each business offers different packages and specials, and each provides varying amenities. For example: some include linens, while some don't; some are air-conditioned, some aren't; and some provide dishes and cooking utensils, some don't. Be sure to research all boats thoroughly before visiting.

The business owners also concur that even inexperienced individuals can operate a houseboat. Each operator provides detailed, hands-on instructions.

 

 
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