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BB Riverboats of Northern Kentucky

Kentucky Life visits BB Riverboats, a Newport-based excursion boat company that offers dining experiences on the Ohio River.

One of Northern Kentucky’s most unique dining experiences is out on the water of the Ohio River. BB Riverboats has been in operation for more than 30 years, offering food and entertainment for patrons of all ages.

The inspiration for BB Riverboats came from a misunderstanding. Owner Ben Bernstein operated a restaurant on a docked boat called the Mike Fink.

Bernstein’s son, Alan, current owner of BB Riverboats, explains that they received calls from potential customers asking when the boat left and returned to harbor. “Of course, Mike Fink never left the dock, so we took that as market research to understand that there was the need for an excursion boat in Cincinnati.”

BB Riverboats now operates two boats: The River Queen and the Belle of Cincinnati. Both boats are sternwheelers, meaning they have a paddlewheel on the back. The Belle of Cincinnati is propelled by its paddlewheel while the River Queen’s is just for show — though it does spin and appears authentic.

Among the cruise options offered by BB Riverboats are pirate cruises and princess cruises for kids and a 90-minute historical sightseeing tour. But the most popular excursions are the lunch and dinner cruises.

“We have an excellent chef,” says Josh Mehling, Director of Operations. “One of the things he prides himself on is making as much as he can from scratch. So you know you’re going to get a good comfort food menu that’s made from scratch.”

“It’s a great part of the Ohio River,” Alan Bernstein says of BB Riverboats’ territory. “I’ve been down the river from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi many times and one of the nicest sections of the Ohio River is truly this section.”

BB Riverboats is located in Newport, Ky., on Columbia Street near the aquarium. Find out more at

This video is part of Kentucky Life episode #1919, which originally aired on May 10, 2014. View the full episode here.