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Operator : Schiffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstattersees (SGV)
See below for details about the lake and its piers

Above : PS Gallia at Brunnen in 2008. For passengers sailing from Lucerne, Brunnen is the main resort on the lake.

The SGV operates five paddle steamers, built between 1901 and 1928, and several other motor vessels for cruises on Lake Lucerne primarily from the city of Luzern to Fluelen, but also with services to Kussnacht and Alpnachstad. Important piers en route are at the resorts of Weggis, Vitznau, Beckenried, Gersau and Brunnen. Connection is made at various piers with mountain railways and cable cars, notably at Vitznau for the Vitznau-Rigi Bahn, the world's first cog-wheel railway. Originally the lake formed part of the route from Northern Europe to Italy, but once the railway was completed to Fluelen, the steamers provided primarily day trips for tourists.
Stadt Luzern

History of services and Historical paddle steamers


Go to the Photograph Collection


Each year the SGV paddlers undertake a parade where the whole fleet (of operable paddle steamers) undertakes a cruise around the lake,sailing in various formations and providing excellent views for those on the lakeshore but especially those aboard the steamers, which are invariably booked solid for this special day

See some photos of the parade of 14/5/2011 marking the return to service of PS Unterwalden after her comprehensive renovation kindly supplied by Nadia Joehr

SGV website

Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne, Switzerland is one of the most beautiful lakes around. It starts at the city of Lucerne (Luzern) and the main arm of the lake quickly reaches into the foothills of the Alps, passing the Burgenstock hill on the right and the imposing Rigi mountain on the left. Steamers call at numerous closely spaced piers, criss-crossing the lake, with Weggis the main resort and Vitznau the interchange for the Rigi Mountain Railway being major traffic destinations before reaching Brunnen. Onwards from Brunnen the scenery takes on a markedly more alpine character with sheer slopes dipping into the lake with piers clinging to the edge precariously. At the upper end of the lake, the town of Fluelen is at the beginning of a valley which cuts deep into alpine territory and acts as the route south for road (and now motorway) and rail.

The two branches of the lake, to Alpnachstad in the Alpnachersee and to Kussnacht receive fewer services, although one paddler is usually rostered for the former route in the main season. PS Unteralden is the only vessel which can reach Alpnachstad as it is the only vessel with retractable funnel and wheelhouse and hinged masts to allow it to pass under the Aschereggbrucke, a modern bridge which replaced a swing bridge carrying traffic from Luzern to Stans and down the western side of the lake.

Each of the piers is illustrated, with photos of the piers, showing, where possible, the view in both directions at the pier. Some photos are taken of the pier from aboard a vessel but most are views of vessels at or near the pier taken from the shoreline. These photos are part of a large collection of photos taken by Gordon Stewart, webmaster, between 1988 and 2001. Click on the pier name to see the photos.  

The main services are from Luzern to Fluelen via the main resorts of Weggis, Gersau and Brunnen and other piers providing interchange with mountain railways or cable cars for onward travel to popular vantage points such as Rigi (from Vitznau), Burgenstock (from Kehrsiten), Klewenalp (from Beckenried) and Seelisberg (from Treib). Rutli, Bauen and Isleten are popular piers for walkers particularly since the establishment and marketing of the "Weg der Schweiz" which passes around the southern part of the lake.
Since the end of the 2010 season, Rotschuo pier has not been included in the SGV's sailing programme

Vitznau (right)

Kehrsiten (Burgenstock), Stansstad and Alpnachstad are the main piers on the service under the low bridge near Stansstad (Aschereggbrucke) into the Alpnachersee. At Kehrsiten Burgenstock, connections are made with the services along the main part of the lake to Fluelen as well as the Burgenstock mountian railway. At Alpnachstad, connection is made with the railway serving Pilatus, the dominant mountain lying to the west of Luzern and itself the world's steepest rack railway. Services to Alpnachstad from Luzern generally call at Verkehrshaus, St Niklausen, Kastanienbaum, Kehrsiten-Burgenstock, Kehrsiten-Dorf, Hergiswil, Stansstad, Rotzloch and Alpnachstad.


Kussnacht is the main town at the head of the eastern arm of the lake and whilst the service provided is infrequent, special paddler steamer trips are provided on occasion. In June to September 1999, the 10.00 am Sunday service from Luzern was provided by PS Unterwalden, with a special breakfast buffet. Piers used by SGV services are Verkehrshaus and Seeburg, Meggenhorn, Meggen, Merlischachen and Kussnacht on the northern bank and Greppen on the southern bank.


Die Geschichte der Schiffahrt auf dem Vierwaldstattersee
Josef Gwerder, Jurg Meister, Erich Leichti
Maihof Verlag AG, Luzern
ISBN 3-9520756-8-X
Reworking and updating of the 1987 celebration of 150 years of the SGV - a comprehensive illustrated reference

Unsere Flotte Vierwaldstattersee
Heinz Amstad, Othmar Egli, Kurt Hunziker, Anton Raber
Verlag Dampferzeitung, Hirtenhofring 2, CH-6005 Luzern
Profile of the vessels in the fleet in 1987, short history of the SGV old and new yards

Schiffe Aus Alter Zeit
Peter A Meyer
Buchverlag Keller & Co, CH-6002, Luzern, Switzerland
ISBN 3-85766-016-3
Detailed profiles of all the former vessels of the fleet up to PS Wihelm Tell and PS Rhein (MV Waldstatter)

Detailed and copiously illustrated profiles of the current paddle steamers are available in the "Bordbuch" series by Josef Gwerder

PS Stadt Luzern -published in 1989 by Keller & Co AG, Luzern. ISBN 3-85766-030-9
PS Gallia - published in 1991 by Keller & Co AG, Luzern. ISBN 3-0-7596-12-4
PS Uri - published in 1996 by Maihof Verlag, Luzern. ISBN 3-9520027-6-3
PS Schiller - published 2000

Brief details of the vessels can be found in the following more general Swiss steamer guides:
Dampfschiffe Schweiz
Anton Raber and Peter Horlacher
Verlag Dampferzeitung, Luzern, Switzerland
Brief detals in four languages including English

Paddle Steamers of the Alps
Leslie Brown and Joe McKendrick
Ferry Publications
ISBN 1-871947-19-7
Illustrated profiles of the steamers and operating areas

Schiffahrt auf den Schweizer Seen
Anton Raber
Orell Fussli Verlag, Zurich
ISBN 3-280-00285-0
Illustrated round up of Swiss lake vessels, with fleet lists and sections on vessel design and engineering.

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