Esperanza Rose: The sights and flavors of Keuka Lake

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
The Esperanza Rose is moored on the west branch of Keuka Lake, near Branchport.

Seekers of fine dining and sightseeing on Keuka Lake do not need to look any further than the Esperanza Rose in Branchport.

“I enjoyed it very much,” returning Marcy resident and 1955 Keuka College alumna Kay Christensen said. “What else is there to say? It’s unbelievable.”

The Esperanza Rose is a 65-foot long wooden cruise vessel weighing 85 tons that offers sightseeing tours and fine dining for lunch and dinner.

The Esperanza Rose takes its name from both the Esperanza Mansion and the Rose family. The Rose family built the Esperanza Mansion in 1838. The Spanish word ‘esperanza’ translates to ‘hope’ in English.

The 2008 lunch menu for the Esperanza Rose includes a salad, a prime roast beef sandwich and a wonderful chicken salad croissant. The dinner menu includes carved roast beef or Tuscan style chicken for its main courses. Vegetarian meal options are available.

“The food is phenomenal, our servers are really fun and classy and it’s just a really exciting and informative cruise,” Esperanza Rose Chef Brian Hargrave said about the dinner cruise.

The Esperanza Rose is owned by David and Lisa Wegman, who also own the Esperanza Mansion restaurant and inn.

The Wegmans purchased the Esperanza Rose in 2003. The Esperanza Rose was able to travel by water from its previous home in the Chesapeake Bay to Seneca Lake, but it had to be put on a customized, hydraulic trailer for the trip from Seneca Lake to Keuka Lake since Keuka Lake is, for the most part, landlocked, according to Captain Mike Brennan.

The Esperanza Rose made its maiden voyage in July 2005 and it is now operating in its fourth season.

Bart Adams, the full-time captain of the Esperanza Rose, has been the cruise vessel’s captain for two years, spending his previous 13 years as captain of the Keuka Maid dinner boat.

“I feel like I’m very much a seasoned captain of this lake in particular as far as chartering public vessels,” Adams said. “I’ve been here for 25 years on this lake.”

Driving the Esperanza Rose is not the only job Adams has as captain. He also manages the cruise vessel and the property it sits on when docked, ordering supplies and performing maintenance.

“It’s really not just drive the boat,” Adams said. “It’s fix the boat. It’s keep the boat in tip-top shape, which we’re very proud of.”

Adams also made a couple of  new policies this year for the Esperanza Rose, which will benefit potential riders of the cruise vessel. One new policy he started this year is that the Esperanza Rose will leave the dock, even if there is only one rider.

“If one person shows up, they go,” Adams said. “It’s worked very well for us to not have to say ‘no’ to anybody.”

According to Adams, the only times that potential riders can be turned away from the Esperanza Rose are bad weather and for private charters, which anybody can reserve by phone or online.

Adams also has a goal to cross-train every crew member on the Esperanza Rose, so each crew member can offer the same quality of service to every person onboard.

“It is the hope of the Esperanza Rose staff that when you come aboard you will feel welcomed,” Esperanza Mansion Vice President of Marketing Pam Griffith said.  “As you depart you will never forget the Esperanza Rose experience, and you will return here year after year.”

Reservations for private charters and cruise tickets can be purchased on the Esperanza Rose Website at or by calling 315-595-6618.

Captain Bart Adams behind the wheel of The Rose.