The Songo River Queen ticket booth, with the Queen docked in the background Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

I got to hold the big wheel of a big boat on a big lake. Nine-year-old me was ecstatic – and petrified of crashing.

The author piloting the Songo River Queen II in July 2006

I was driving the Songo River Queen II on Long Lake in Naples, pulling off impressive maneuvers like “going straight” and “holding on for dear life,” as seen in a photo my parents captured in July 2006.

I’ve been on the Queen a couple of times since, but for the first time in at least 10 years, I stepped on board a few weeks ago. I got a very different, yet familiar feeling this time around.

As a child, I’d explore the boat with my cousins and friends while our parents enjoyed adult beverages and soaked in the sights. My parents loved looking at all the houses along the shore – and still do, most often on Moose Pond in Denmark and Bridgton, where they have a lake house of their own.

When the Queen undocked, my girlfriend and I took our seats and soaked in the sights, looking at all the houses along the shore. I skipped the adult beverage (a note mostly for my editor), but we debated which houses were more attractive and fantasized about having the means to buy them.

Julia Martin takes in the beautiful scenery Long Lake has to offer. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

In the summer months, the Songo River Queen gives passengers a tour of Long Lake – which goes far beyond pretty summer homes.


“It’s the best scenery in the world,” said Kent Uicker, owner of the Songo River Queen. “Our public tours are narrated so you get a lot of the history of the area.”

Uicker has been captaining Songo River Queen cruises for over 20 years.

“It’s probably the best office in the world,” he said.

One of the many summer camps along Long Lake. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

Passengers will be introduced to land features such as Arrowhead Point, Birch Point, and Pine Island, as well as several campgrounds, along with brief history lessons about each of them.

Perhaps what got the crowd most excited during my most recent trip on the Queen was seeing the former waterfront home of Stephen King. It’s the place where King wrote “The Shining,” “Carrie” and “The Mist” – the latter of which is based on Long Lake.

Stephen King’s former home on Long Lake Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

As we swung by King’s home, there was an interesting building up on the hill beyond the lake. It was Drews Castle, (You can bet I made a joke about it being my castle.) but it quickly disappeared out of view as passengers continued to strain their necks to catch another glimpse.


Uicker assured us we’d get an even better glimpse of it “in just a minute,” and he didn’t disappoint.

Drews Castle looks over Long Lake Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

The Queen also brings you by the Hatfield-McCoy houses. OK, that was a lie, but not too big of a stretch: two neighbors on the lake have a long-lasting feud, Uicker told the passengers, evident by the white picket fence separating the two homes – it extends along the beach and even into the lake itself.

The Queen also provides scenic views of Mt. Washington and Pleasant Mountain. The ride is a great opportunity to check out some neat-looking watercraft and, if you’re lucky, you may also catch a water plane landing.

A Songo River Queen tour comes with scenic views and fellow boaters with some neat-looking crafts. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

But the Queen is not just a tourist attraction. With the ability to host 350 passengers on the nearly 100-foot-long vessel “we also offer private functions which are very popular for, you name it,” Uicker said. “Whether it be weddings, anniversaries, company outings, birthday parties. If you can think of it, they’ve done it on here.”

When asked if his photo could be taken in front of the Songo River Queen, Uicker declined.

“When people come here, that’s what they remember,” he said, pointing at the Queen. “Not me.”

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