Edmonton’s iconic riverboat underwent major renovations, received approval to sail and will be open for public and private events – but there’s just one holdup.

“We’re looking for a captain, a first mate and a riverboat engineer,” owner Jay Esterer said.

Esterer says he has received applications from east and west coasters, but would rather hire an Edmontonian.

“Finding a crew for a ship in Edmonton is difficult, because there’s not a lot of ships in Edmonton,” he said.

Esterer purchased the 25-year-old Edmonton Queen Riverboat in 2016. It has been stationary for the past two summers; in 2016, due to low water levels in the North Saskatchewan River, and in 2017, because the Queen needed renovations to receive regulatory approval to sail.

“We’ve got all the paperwork in place, we’ve upgraded and renovated,” Esterer said. “The restaurant and bar are ready to go.”

The boat has new floors, lighting, engines, and Wi-Fi.

Esterer says he has received booking requests for weddings and company parties, but won’t accept them until he hires a crew. Public tours will run four days a week at the start.

 “We’ll see what kind of response we get,” Esterer said. “If the response is good, then we might go to six days a week. And then seven days a week.”

The owner admits success isn’t a given and he may lose money, but the local staple is worth the risk for him.

“I think it showcases the river valley, gets more people down on the river, and I think it’s really beautiful here.”

With files from Jeremy Thompson