New River Barges Afloat Downtown

PHOTO CREDIT: Premier media, David Garza

 New River Barges Afloat Downtown

Submitted By Laura Hernandez Aplin

GO RIO River Cruises officially took over operations of the San Antonio river boats on October 1, ushering in a rejuvenated tour experience that invites visitors and locals to “Step into the Soul of San Antonio.”

The San Antonio-based GO RIO partnership is led by businesswomen Hope Andrade and Lisa Wong, and operational partner Landry’s.

“We’re very excited to take over cruise operations and to show residents and tourists another world to be experienced – just steps below the street level,” said Andrade.  “The GO RIO cruises will be a true representation of our City’s culture and a reflection of the Soul of San Antonio. We expect the exciting new boats and tours to generate a renewed appreciation for downtown and for our river.”

            The most visible change to the river cruises is a new fleet of quiet, eco-friendly electric-powered boats that feature panels of vibrantly colored punched aluminum that resembles “papel picado.” Panel themes include a mission, a military motif and a nod to the city’s upcoming Tricentennial next year.

“The city did a beautiful job in designing these barges,” said Wong. “The vibrant colors and new boat design will make a visible difference that we hope will entice locals and tourists to experience the beauty of our River Walk. We’re excited to be part of the transformation and look forward to showcasing our GO RIO boats throughout the Tricentennial.”

The new boats sit higher in the water for a better viewing perspective and offer a newly designed seating arrangement that offers more leg room and greater flexibility than the former fleet. Regular tours hold about 40 passengers. Dinner tours typically seat 18, with more intimate dining configurations available for 2-10 people.

Coming next year are specialty cruises that will include foodie adventures, ghost tours, yoga and spin classes, and special early morning tours to say “¡Buenos días, San Antonio!”

            A few of the new boats have arrived and are already in the water being prepped for launch. GO RIO will initially begin its service with a fleet of 24 boats, which will grow to 43 based on the manufacturer’s delivery schedule. Wong said the goal is to have a full fleet in operation by Dec. 1.

            “With San Antonio’s rich culture and deep historical roots, we take great pride in representing Downtown San Antonio and will work hard to ensure the community has an unforgettable experience with family and friends for years to come,” said Carlton Quick of Landry’s.

Tickets will cost $12 per person, with discounts for local residents, children, seniors and military members. They may be purchased online at, or in person year-round at Rivercenter (river level), Historia (under Market Street bridge and Alamo Street), and the Aztec Theatre (river level). Tickets also may be purchased during peak tourist season at the Brooklyn Ave. Lock and Dam near the bridge (street level) and at Main Plaza (street level).  Riders can also catch GO RIO’S taxi service at any designated taxi stop on the river from downtown through the Museum Reach. Charter cruises can be reserved online at