The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside

location icon site icon
The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside

# All Categories

# Entertainment

location icon site icon

The Star of Summer Date Nights

LET’S TALK A-BOAT IT:

When we sat down with Bailee Bridwell to learn more about The Star of Knoxville riverboat, we figured this thing you’re reading now would be about said boat. After all, it is one of only four authentic paddlewheel riverboats in the USA, right on the Tennessee River in good ole downtown Knoxville. Cool, right?

Very cool, yes. BUT y’all, this family. They are precious. Settle in for the cutest story. (And then, once you’ve fallen in love with the Cheek/Bridwell fam, we promise we’ll tell you all about how you can bring your very own pizza and wine to deck of the boat. Cross our hearts.)

The Star of Knoxville

Image by @tennesseeriverboat

THE (ADORABLE) STORY:

Let’s start with the parents. Bailee Bridwell’s father, Mike Cheek, started working on riverboats in Nashville at the geriatric age of fifteen years old. (We assume he liked it okay, because he’s now been in the riverboat business for a mere 43 years.) After spending a few summers as a deckhand, in walked a new boat photographer: Tammy.

Because this is the cutest story ever, Mike and Tammy obviously fell in love, got married, and started a little family. (*sob*🥺💛)

Awhile later, this little family moved to Knoxville from Nashville so Mike could be the General Manager of, you guessed it, the Star of Knoxville. Mike made the trip in 1988, but get this: When the owners decided to move the riverboat in 1994, Mike offered to buy her so she could stay in our sweet Knoxville. Tennessee. (We could hardly contain ourselves when we heard this tidbit of information. Is this not a Hallmark movie waiting to happen?? Romance, risk, rivers – this story has it all!)

Okay, back to the story.

Bailee and her brother were just babies when the Cheeks moved to the Scruffy City, so they basically grew up on The Star of Knoxville. They went on all the cruises. They knew all the crew. They even ended up being on the crew as teenagers. (As a little kid, the “Boomsday Cruise” was her favorite. The boat would be so close to the fireworks, they’d all end the night covered in ashes. KNOXVILLE FREAKING GOALS.)

After college, Bailee left for a few years to gain experience on other boats (one of the biggest riverboats in the country in Savannah, to be exact), and when she finally came back to Knoxville in 2019, her parents handed her the keys.

This family affair has come full circle now. Bailee’s dad, brother, and husband are all captains – but it gets even cuter. You know how Bailee and her brother grew up on the boat? Well, if you see a stroller in the corner or some precious babies being passed around by the crew, you’re more than likely on a cruise with Bailee’s own sweet twins who are all set to grow up on the same boat as their mom and uncle. Some members of the crew have literally seen two generations of kiddos grow up on the boat. (*pause to sob from cuteness*)

View from the Star of Knoxville riverboat

DECK DATES:

If you want to be a part of this adorableness, it’s actually easy as pie. Going into this conversation, we were under the impression that riverboat cruises were saved for the bougiest of occasions (we’re talkin’ holiday party or bust), but after meeting Bailee (who is so personable and down to earth) and hearing her family’s story, we knew we’d been missing out on all kinds of “treat yourself” occasions. (We are, admittedly, very easily talked into treating ourselves.)

Want to book an epic dinner date on the boat complete with food, drinks, and entertainment? Go for it! Just know you can also cut the bill in half by booking a “Sight Seeing Cruise.” On Sight Seeing Cruises, you spend the whole time taking in the sights from the upper deck. We’re talking Neyland Stadium, the mansions of Sequoyah Hills, and Ijams Nature Center all from the unique vantage point of the Tennessee River. You can even bring your own little picnic on board. Is that not the sweetest date night?? (We suggest splitting a pizza and a bottle of red, but that’s just us😉)

The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside Multi Images
The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside Multi Images
The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside Multi Images
The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside Multi Images

THE DETAILS:

If you’re now jonesin’ for this pizza and wine on the river situation, we have good news: there are cruise options 6 days a week during peak season! (You can definitely just show up and live your spontaneous dreams, but we suggest booking a ticket in advance to be safe.)

Wednesday: Lunch Cruise + Country Dinner Cruise

Thursday: Murder Mystery Cruise

Friday: Deluxe Cruise

Saturday: Lunch Cruise + Deluxe Cruise 

Sunday: Oldies Dinner Cruise

View from the top deck of The Star of Knoxville on the Tennessee River

View from the top deck of the riverboat🤩

Mix-up date night, surprise the kids, or take a page out of our playbook here at New2Knox and treat yourself. Either way, a cruise on The Star of Knoxville provides a way to admire Knoxville from a whole different angle; it gets you on the water on one of the only authentic paddlewheel riverboats in the country; and most importantly, you get to support a family who saved Knoxville’s riverboat, raised two generations of kids on said boat, and pours their heart and soul into providing this experience for their city.

You already know we’re suckers for this scruffy city. We’ll see you on river 😉

Click here for more fun, local date night ideas!

location icon site icon

Check Them Out:

Website: tnriverboat.com

Phone: (865) 525-7827

Publish date: 18 August.

Images by: Emilie Stooksbury

calendar

13 September, 2021

5 of the Best Patios in Knoxville
When it comes to late summer/early fall in East Tennessee, you can count on two things. First, University of Tennessee football will let you down. Second, the weather will lift you right back up🙌 We're talkin' temps in the mid-70s, refreshing breezes, even *a little less humidity.*  You may find…
calendar

25 August, 2021

Knoxville Festivals: Second Bell Music Festival
Knoxville may be sandwiched between two heavy hitters when it comes to cities known for music (one of them is literally nicknamed Music City and the other is known as the birthplace of country music), but our Scruffy City has been making a name for itself when it comes to being…
calendar

18 August, 2021

The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside
When we sat down with Bailee Bridwell to learn more about The Star of Knoxville riverboat, we figured this thing you’re reading now would be about said boat. After all, it is one of only four authentic paddlewheel riverboats in the USA, right on the Tennessee River in good ole…

calendar

19 March, 2021

Oglewood Avenue: A Look Inside
Jade Adams is the stylish, hilarious owner of Oglewood Avenue - and frankly, we’d like to be her new best friend. (It’s not weird, okay? Don’t make it weird.) Besides, considering the way she takes care of her plants, she’d be a good best friend to have. Let’s back up:…
calendar

5 January, 2021

5 Fave Black-Owned Businesses in Knoxville
If you’re anything like me (white… oh so very white), you may have realized you had a lot to learn last summer. You may have also been surprised to learn that COVID was hitting Black-owned businesses (even in Knoxville) disproportionately hard. My favorite part of 2020 life was ordering local…

calendar

25 August, 2021

Knoxville Festivals: Second Bell Music Festival
Knoxville may be sandwiched between two heavy hitters when it comes to cities known for music (one of them is literally nicknamed Music City and the other is known as the birthplace of country music), but our Scruffy City has been making a name for itself when it comes to being…
calendar

18 August, 2021

The Star of Knoxville: A Look Inside
When we sat down with Bailee Bridwell to learn more about The Star of Knoxville riverboat, we figured this thing you’re reading now would be about said boat. After all, it is one of only four authentic paddlewheel riverboats in the USA, right on the Tennessee River in good ole…
calendar

9 August, 2021

7 Days of Live Music in Knoxville
While our neighbor to the west may be more well known for her music scene (have you heard of a little place called Nashville?), our favorite lil scruffy city (Knoxville, duh) certainly holds her own when it comes to live music opportunities. After all, Dolly herself would make the trek…

calendar

27 July, 2021

5 Must-Try Taco Spots in Knoxville
Taco obsession is not a new phenomenon, but regardless if you’ve been in Knoxville a little over a year (like me!) or you’re Knox born and bred, finding the perfect taco can feel like a never-ending quest (albeit a fun one). Here are five spots we’ve been returning to lately:…
calendar

15 July, 2021

Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside
600 beers in six years. Just to save you the math: that’s about two beers a week. Two unique beers a week that Crafty Bastard Brewery has put into the world and into our mouths since it opened its doors in downtown north in 2015. Just by the numbers, Crafty Bastard…
calendar

9 July, 2021

5 Must-Try Food Truck Parks
We can all agree that food trucks rule, so it comes as no surprise that Knoxville went from zero food truck parks to five (yes, five) in just a matter of a few years. Are we mad about this? We are not. (And since you're here reading this, we're just…

calendar

13 September, 2021

5 of the Best Patios in Knoxville
When it comes to late summer/early fall in East Tennessee, you can count on two things. First, University of Tennessee football will let you down. Second, the weather will lift you right back up🙌 We're talkin' temps in the mid-70s, refreshing breezes, even *a little less humidity.*  You may find…
calendar

6 May, 2021

10 Kid-Friendly Spots to Hang
Here are two things you quickly learn after having kids: first, it is imperative you find kid-friendly places you also enjoy (good news: we're here with the scoop on kid-friendly spots in Knoxville. You're in the right spot😂); and second, the questions buzzing through your head never stop. Things you…
calendar

16 April, 2021

7 Date Night Ideas
Whether you’re looking for a special evening with your significant other, a treat yoself adventure with numero uno, or it’s just high time for a girls night out: here are a few omg-it's-been-a-year-since-I've-gone-out-and-my-social-anxiety-is-kicking -in-so-I-can't-decide-what-to-do date night ideas to enjoy in good ole Knoxville, TN. 1.) SCOOTER TO SOKNO Have you…

calendar

14 July, 2021

Sunflowers in South Knoxville
Buckle up, folks. Your Insta feeds are about to be littered with pics of bright, sunny faces as far as the eye can see. Nope, we aren’t referencing those sweet first-day-of-school pictures. We’re talking about the sunflower fields in South Knoxville - specifically, the 70-plus acres of sunflowers at Forks…
calendar

3 June, 2021

Navitat Canopy Adventures
Navitat is a hidden gem and a super cool adventure course built high in the canopy of the green forest of South Knoxville. It's is an entire setup of multiple adventure and zipline courses, ranging from beginner, moderate, to difficult levels - legitimately something the whole family or friend group…
calendar

27 May, 2021

Knoxville Adventure Collective
So many of us move to Knoxville for her access to all things outdoors. Jon and the folks at Knoxville Adventure Collective can legitimately help you start experiencing and exploring it.

calendar

19 March, 2021

Oglewood Avenue: A Look Inside
Jade Adams is the stylish, hilarious owner of Oglewood Avenue - and frankly, we’d like to be her new best friend. (It’s not weird, okay? Don’t make it weird.) Besides, considering the way she takes care of her plants, she’d be a good best friend to have. Let’s back up:…
calendar

5 January, 2021

5 Fave Black-Owned Businesses in Knoxville
If you’re anything like me (white… oh so very white), you may have realized you had a lot to learn last summer. You may have also been surprised to learn that COVID was hitting Black-owned businesses (even in Knoxville) disproportionately hard. My favorite part of 2020 life was ordering local…


location icon site icon

Search Bar

Search
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt
location icon site icon

Don’t Miss the News!

Subscribe to the New2Knox newsletter to get monthly updates on all things Knoxville.

location icon site icon

Upcoming Events

  • Oktoberfest

    Time: September 18 @ 6:00 am

    Location: 126 Bernard Ave
    Knoxville, TN 37917 United States

  • Xul: After Hours (Silent Disco!)

    Time: September 24 @ 11:00 pm

    Location: 213 E 5th Ave
    Knoxville, TN 37917 United States

location icon site icon

Move2Knox?

Moving can be daunting, but we’re here to help it go as smoothly as possible.

location icon site icon

Want to Advertise?

Want to advertise your business or event? Let’s chat!

Location Icon Site Icon

OUR INSTAGRAM