Voyageurs National Park Houseboat Rental: Voyagaire Houseboat Rental Review

Finding the right Voyageurs National Park houseboat rental can feel overwhelming. The cost to rent a houseboat is not cheap, so making sure you choose the right option for your budget and needs is important. 

Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats is located on Crane Lake and is one of the best houseboat rentals in Voyageurs National Park. After much research and comparison to other houseboat rentals, I decided to rent a houseboat from Voyagaire for my first visit to the park. How did it go? Here’s what I loved, what could have been better and my overall Voyagaire review. 

Voyagaire Houseboat Rental at Voyageurs National Park - images of houseboat parked and calm blue water.

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What to expect when renting a houseboat from Voyagaire?

Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats is located just outside of Voyageurs National Park on Crane Lake. From here, you can easily travel into the park with a short drive by boat. Out of the main Voyageurs National Park houseboat rental companies, Voyagaire is the most southern and closest to the Twin Cities.

Pro Tip: If you haven’t yet, read these 15 essential things to know before renting a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park!

The Voyagaire staff were helpful from the beginning of the booking process. They did a great job answering my many questions via email and adding kayaks to my rental after the initial booking. 

When you arrive at Voyagaire Lodge, go inside to check-in. The staff will be there to answer your questions, talk through the optional damage insurance (which I recommend), and connect you with a team that will help transfer your luggage and gear from your vehicle to your houseboat. 

Before you board, consider enjoying a meal on the outdoor patio of the Voyagaire Lodge overlooking Crane Lake. 

Rent a kayak with your houseboat in Voyageurs National Park

Once onboard, another team member from Voyagaire will give you an orientation to the houseboat. They will cover things like how to operate the generator, how to charge the radio, how to navigate the lakes, and more. Be sure to ask any questions that are on your mind during this orientation.

When you’re all set, a Voyagaire team member will drive your houseboat away from the dock while you and another team member retrieve your fishing boat. This is to ensure that you don’t damage any of the other houseboats docked nearby. Once away from the dock area, they will help you secure your fishing boat and send you on your way into Voyageurs National Park!

Pro Tip: Wherever you rent from a motorized fishing boat must be towed behind the houseboat for safety reasons. If you do not have your own motorized fishing boat, you must add one to your reservation. 

Voyagaire’s houseboats vary quite a bit in age, furnishing and amenities. I rented one of their smallest houseboats, the 360 Deluxe Suncruiser. This particular boat was a bit dated on the interior, but was clean. I chose this model due to its size (3 double beds), relatively low cost, and the upper deck seating. This model has a front and back patio plus the rooftop, so lots of outdoor space onboard.

Each day in Voyageurs is an adventure! Some visitors like to use one spot as their homebase and others like to move locations several times during their stay. 

What I Love About Voyagaire Houseboat Rentals

While there are some amenities that are standard across Voyageurs National Park houseboat rentals, some are unique to Voyagaire.

  • Hospitality Service (see below)
  • Most accessible location from the Twin Cities
  • Discounted pricing before and after peak season
  • Pet-friendly
  • Helpful and responsive maintenance crew (we flooded the motor on fishing boat and needed assistance)
  • Friendly staff made planning less stressful
  • Access to Grassy Bay, Sand Point Lake and Lake Namakan
Grassy Bay Cliffs rise 125 feet above the water in Voyageurs National Park.
Getting up close to Grassy Bay Cliffs in Voyageurs National Park. These granite cliffs rise 125 feet above the water and are the highest point in the park.

One of my favorite parts of renting a houseboat from Voyagaire was the hospitality service. This is basic room service by water. Each day, place an order over the radio for just about anything you need and give them a location. By afternoon, they will locate you and deliver your goods! We even overheard a woman ask for her husband to be delivered to their boat (he had a travel delay). If you need to restock on grocery items, ice, gasoline, or even specific grocery items, they will have you covered.

Pro Tip: When you check in Voyagaire will automatically charge you $60 for this service, but if you don’t use it you will get that refunded when you return. 

What I Don’t Love About Voyagaire Houseboat Rentals

My experience was mostly positive and I would rent from Voyagaire again. However, there are a few things I want to mention.

First, we were the first people to take this specific houseboat out for the season. We ran into a few issues that should have been caught before we took the boat out. The potable water system smelled like fish, it was inedible. We deduced that there had been antifreeze left in there or not flushed out entirely. Fortunately, I had brought my water filter and we had endless lake water that we could use to drink but that wasn’t ideal. We could have requested the maintenance team come and address it, but decided not.

A related issue was that the fridge smelled like fish. I’m guessing that the fridge had been closed all winter and we were the unfortunate people who were hit with these lingering odors. We used some Clorox wipes to clean it and this took care of the issue. So, especially if you are the first renter of the season, check all the systems and appliances before you leave the dock.

Sawyer Squeeze water filter next to a glass of clear water on the rooftop of a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park.
Filtering lake water on the rooftop of the Voyagaire houseboat rental in Voyageurs National Park.

Second, the orientation was relatively unstructured. In fairness, the employee doing our orientation was brand new (their first orientation ever). I would have preferred they have someone shadowing them to make sure everything was covered. We asked a lot of questions and ended up getting what we needed. 

Finally, the interior of the houseboat we rented was dated. This wasn’t a big deal to me but might be to others. All of the boats are purchased at different times and naturally are going to have differing levels of wear and tear. I am sure this is the case at any of the houseboat rental companies.

Pro Tip: One quirk about renting a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park is that personal checks, money orders, or cashiers checks are preferred for final payment to avoid a 3% credit card fee. This applies to most of the major houseboat rental companies. I mailed a check to avoid the additional fee. 

Overall Opinion on Renting a Houseboat from Voyagaire

Voyagaire is a great place for first timers renting a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park. Their easy-to-access location, reasonable cost, helpful staff, and hospitality service makes for a great experience. When renting early in the season, I would take extra precautions checking the systems onboard given the couple of hiccups we ran into.

Houseboat slide at Voyageurs National Park with calm mirror-like water behind the boat.
Peaceful morning near Wolf Point on Crane Lake on a Voyagaire houseboat rental.

How Does Voyagaire Houseboat Rental Compare to Alternatives?

There are three primary houseboat rental companies at Voyageurs National Park. Here are some highlights of how they compare.

Ebel’s Voyageur Houseboats | Orr, Minnesota

Ebel’s is a local favorite houseboat rental company, located on the Ash River in Orr. The drive from the Twin Cities is about 5 hours. Their location offers easy access to Lake Kabetogama and Namakan Lake, both popular for fishing and recreation. Prices are comparable to Voyagaire, if not slightly higher.

Why Voyagaire is better: The hospitality service is a nice plus. Also, their location on Crane Lake is more accessible for most people, especially for a short visit to Voyageurs.

Rainy Lake Houseboats | International Falls, Minnesota

Rainy Lake is the most northern and remote of the popular Voyageurs National Park houseboat rental companies. Located in International Falls, it’s an approximately 5.5 hr drive from the Twin Cities. Prices are comparable to the alternatives. They offer a similar hospitality service, though there is an additional charge for same day delivery.

Why Voyagaire is better: While both companies offer a hospitality service, Voyagaire has a standard same-day delivery. Again, their location is easier to get to as it’s closer to Minneapolis, St Paul and Duluth.

Lower deck Suncruiser Deluxe houseboat rental from Voyagaire
Voyagaire Suncruiser Deluxe lower deck is partially covered and comes with a propane grill, cooler and chairs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Voyagaire Houseboat Rentals

Voyagaire has a great FAQ page and rental rules on their website that I recommend reviewing.

How does Voyagaire’s houseboat rental price compare to others?

Overall, I think you’ll find that the Voyageurs National Park houseboat rental pricing varies some across the main companies, but not by a lot. The main difference is the size and layout of their fleets and the amenities offered. Voyagaire was slightly less expensive than the alternatives when I booked my rental. Consider taking advantage of the discounts offered before and after peak season to reduce the cost.

Is Voyagaire pet-friendly?

Yes, though there is a pet fee. 

How much gas will I need?

This varies depending on how much you plan to move around the park and how long you are staying. In general, a tank of gas will last you a week. If you are running low on gas, the hospitality service can deliver some to you.

How cold is the water?

It’s cold! Even on hot days in the summer, the water remains relatively cold. The ideal time of year for swimming is from mid-June through September. 

What should I bring on the houseboat?

I wrote an entire blog post about this! Read my Voyageurs National Park houseboat packing list.

Can I charge my electronics? 

Yes! Most, but not all, boats are fitted with a generator which allows you to charge your electronics using the outlets onboard.

Is Voyagaire a Good Voyageurs National Park Houseboat Rental Option?

I say yes – and I can’t wait to visit again and explore more of Voyageurs National Park!

Related content to read next:

How to Avoid Getting Eaten Alive by Mosquitoes & Ticks (for Hikers!)

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15 Best Minnesota Hiking Guides

Check out my Minnesota travel page for even more inspiration and tips!

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Where to rent a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park - View from top deck of houseboat of rocky shoreline with pine trees.

26 thoughts on “Voyageurs National Park Houseboat Rental: Voyagaire Houseboat Rental Review

  1. This Big Wild World says:

    Glad to hear you had a mostly good experience with Voyagaire, John. Sorry to hear about the leaking roof and dated boat. The boat I rented was a bit dated too, but fully functional and no leaks. I follow Voyagaire on social media and know that they are in the process of updating their fleet so hopefully next time you visit you can try out one of the newer boats!

  2. John Kwasniewicz says:

    Rented a Voyager houseboat last year. The lake and the service was outstanding. The only drawbacks were the boat was very dated and leaked through the roof onto the sofa whenever it rained. Tough to sleep on a wet pull out.

  3. This Big Wild World says:

    What an awesome adventure to share with your family! Glad to hear you had a good experience with Ebel’s. The wonderful thing about Voyageurs is that there’s so much to explore! You can go back again and again and never stay at the same sites.

  4. Tim Tice says:

    Our family just got back from Voyageurs National Park this past Monday, We rented a 50 ft houseboat from Ebel’s as it was the only boat available when we planned the trip in the spring,the boat and staff were awesome ,it was such a memorable experience we hope to do this a few more times,,such a great and beautiful place

  5. This Big Wild World says:

    It’s definitely a park worth revisiting! Agreed – so glad we had some extra gear so the hiccups didn’t interrupt our experience.

  6. Farrah says:

    I got to go to Voyageurs National Park a couple years back but definitely would love to go back again someday and it’d be awesome to get to rent a houseboat! I’m glad you had a water filter system + great tips on just checking everything beforehand to avoid those hiccups!

  7. This Big Wild World says:

    Ha ha, yep! The funny part is that all of Voyagaire’s boats can hear what happens over the radio so we all got to listen to the husband exchange 🙂

    I’m really thankful we were prepared and those couple of mishaps didn’t derail our experience. We ended up having a great time!

  8. This Big Wild World says:

    Glad you found this helpful, Karen! It’s important to me to be fair and honest when I review an experience. Glad your houseboat experience in Kentucky turned out ok!

  9. This Big Wild World says:

    Awesome, glad you came across this post! Yes, you are required to have a motorized fishing boat in tow. You add that on to the houseboat rental (because many people have their own boats and don’t need a rental). You can add on other watercraft like kayaks or canoes as well, which can be stored on the upper deck or in the fishing boat if you have tie down ropes.

    Driving it was mostly fine if you have some experience with boats. There is a free app called Navionics that I highly recommend, which works offline and allows you to navigate obstructions and depth throughout the park. The first day we had extremely high wind which made it pretty difficult to land the boat, but we worked together and got it done. After that, it was no problem at all.

    My dog didn’t join us this time, but I would definitely bring him in the future!

  10. This Big Wild World says:

    You’re welcome, Amy! Happy to share my experience so that others can enjoy this beautiful place.

  11. This Big Wild World says:

    So happy to share all about Minnesota! It’s definitely an underrated destination for outdoor adventures. Hope you and your family can come explore here someday!

  12. This Big Wild World says:

    Yep, it’s an incredibly unique national park and houseboating is a great way to experience it. It’s a beautiful part of Minnesota and unlike any other national park I’ve visited! Hope you’re able to see it yourself someday.

  13. This Big Wild World says:

    Sounds like quite an adventure! Hope you were able to enjoy yourself minus the mishaps. I’ll have to keep houseboating in mind when I visit Lake Powell!

  14. This Big Wild World says:

    It’s such a unique experience and the perfect way to experience Voyageurs National Park!

  15. This Big Wild World says:

    You’re welcome! So glad the timing worked out. If you have questions as you plan your trip, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help!

  16. Josy A says:

    Heh! That is awesome that if your husband is late, you can have him delivered to your boat!! 😀

    It’s a bit of a shame about the stinky water and fridge, but it sounds like you had a fabulous time testing out boat life!!

  17. Karen says:

    You always give very fair reviews. I appreciate you commenting on both the positive and negative of each company. This is a helpful review. We rented a houseboat once in Kentucky and I wish I would’ve had this way to evaluate companies before we did it. It actually turned out OK but that was just pure luck.

  18. Tara says:

    This is something I really want to try, and I know exactly where to go when I’m ready to plan my trip! You had the houseboat, kayaks, and a fishing boat with you? How was driving it? Did your dog enjoy it?

  19. Amy Kennedy Fosseen says:

    I love the idea of renting a houseboat—thank you so much for doing the heavy lifting and actually checking it out.

  20. Erin says:

    This looks like a great time! I want to rent one of these house boats. My family would love this type of vacation. Great article, I learned a lot on a area I haven’t explored yet.

  21. Michele says:

    I’ve thought about renting an RV before but never a houseboat. You’ve opened up a whole new realm of possible trips. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Catherine says:

    What a cool and unique experience! I had no idea you could see Voyageurs National Park via a houseboat. Pinning this to my national park dream board!

  23. simplyjolayne says:

    Sounds like a fun experience for sure. My last time on a house boat at Lake Powell had us dealing with some fun issues as well as proper care wasn’t taken before turning the boat over to a new customer.

  24. Lasma says:

    Wow, I have never seen a houseboat like that and it looks so cool! I’m saving this, because I would love to do something like that… looks like a cool experience!

  25. kmf says:

    This post is so timely as we are looking to visit Voyageurs National Park this year and renting a houseboat. Thanks for this honest review to help manage expectations.

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