The Showboat Branson Belle entertains thousands of guests each year with its eclectic cadre of tasty food, variety of show talent, and an unforgettable experience on azure-blue Table Rock Lake in providing a unique experience unlike any other in Branson! Cameron Hansen has worked for The Showboat Branson Belle for twelve years, beginning as an onstage entertainer in 2004. After gradually transitioning into development and production of many of its shows, he moved into marketing and is now the Manager of Special Events in Marketing. Save On Branson’s writing team was lucky enough to snatch an interview with the busy Cameron, who loves to proudly show off one of Branson’s most-prized crown jewels, The Showboat Branson Belle!
Q: Why do guests return year after year to The Showboat Branson Belle?
Cameron: When I first started working on The Showboat Branson Belle, I really wanted to develop shows. The Director told me the experience should always be focused on the boat. It’s actually the largest riverboat of its kind in the world! It’s a unique vessel with entertainment worth repeating over and over again. Our demographics have been changing lately, with more corporate events, wedding receptions, graduations, and family reunions as we’ve been receiving more national recognition.
Q: How is The Showboat Branson Belle powered?
Cameron: We have three 1,200 horsepower CAT engines that run on clean diesel. They’re American-made and we only run two of the engines at a time. The paddle wheels actually run the boat, and thrusters on each side help with docking.
Q: How many passengers board The Showboat Branson Belle every year?
Cameron: We’re budgeting this year for a quarter million passengers, and we’ve had 75,000 so far [as of mid-June]. We’re proud to say The Showboat Branson Belle receives the highest guest scores in the country out of all the Herschend Family Entertainment properties.
Q: What kind of experience can guests expect when they board The Showboat Branson Belle?
Cameron: The first thing guests notice is how big the boat actually is. The pictures people see online and within brochures just don’t do the boat justice – she can hold 850-1,000 passengers at a time, with four decks and a gallery that can feed 2,500 per day. That’s worth getting on! We present a Broadway-caliber show that’s a step up from other typical shows. The show’s only an hour long, and it goes by so quickly that guests almost forget they’re onboard! We try to over-deliver on what we promise to our guests. Our food is awesome – it’s fresh and prepped daily. Tyson comes in to deliver their famous chicken, and we fill up our guests!
Q: Are guests allowed to use cameras? Where can they take pictures and videos?
Cameron: Absolutely – guests can take pictures anywhere they’d like to. Everywhere is open on The Showboat.
Q: Do guests usually tip their food servers?
Cameron: Yes – typically guests tip $5 a head, but it’s really at the discretion of the guest.
Q: Are there any changes to The Showboat Branson Belle from years past?
Cameron: We’ve got a great group of talent that covers every age group. This year they brought America’s Got Talent. We held auditions, and we now feature Rhythm - cloggers with dynamic rhythmic stepping! We also have The ShowMen, who cover The Beatles, Beach Boys and just do a great job with harmonies. Christopher James is an illusionist who’s great working with kids. We wanted a softer presence onstage, so we added Cassandra Haygood – she does Judy Garland and Disney princess songs that rounds out the program for the kids. We have aerial violinist Janice Martin, ventriloquist Phil Hughes, and Jason Yaeger from American Idol as our featured male vocalist. Our 4:00 and 8:00 shows used to be the same, but now they’re different. The food remains the same, but the show experience is different. Our 4:00 show now has the largest cast we’ve ever had!
Q: Can you tell me more about The Paddle Wheel Club Room?
Cameron: The second deck is The Paddle Wheel Club Room, which holds up to forty people. It provides a VIP, intimate experience that’s great for birthday parties, family reunions, anniversaries, etc. You get a privately-rented premium dining room that serves steak, chicken, salad, and gourmet desserts with awesome service, and a private balcony for seclusion. The Paddle Wheel Club Room especially caters to returnees who would like do something a little different.