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Rising fuel costs create rough waters for 'Pride of the Susquehanna'

Fuel costs for the historic paddle-wheel riverboat have more than doubled since last year.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Like many other things, a river cruise in Harrisburg is costing a bit more these days.

Ticket prices for a ride on the Pride of the Susquehanna have gone up since last year due to COVID-19 and other rising costs.

Now the price of fueling the boat is at an all-time high.

"Our prices for our diesel fuel [are] more than double what [they were] last year at this time," said Deb Bradshaw, the boat's captain.

It’s a skyrocketing cost the company didn’t account for this season.

“We don’t have any way of recapping that money because we already, our ticket prices are set, everything’s in line so we can’t really change anything now," said Bradshaw.

Staffing issues and increasing food costs are also impacting the boat.

“A lot of people are really anxious for our dinner cruises to start up again but quite honestly, it’s hard to find a caterer who can commit to prices for food," said Bradshaw.

She says the increased expenses are cutting into the company’s bottom line.

“We’re probably not going to make as much money as we should be this year because we have more expenses so that sends us into the winter season when we would do repairs and maintenance maybe a little bit behind," said Bradshaw.

For the Pride, the biggest obstacle is figuring out how to balance it all.

“We try little things to save as much as we can, right down to things like our snacks," said Bradshaw. "It’s just hard, you can’t go doubling the price of everything or else people aren’t going to want to be out here.”

Amid all of these challenges, Bradshaw says there is one silver lining. 

So far this season, demand has been through the roof.

“People are on the island," she said. "We had a really good weekend this past weekend, even today which I guess a lot of people were off work today but we had really good numbers for a Monday.”

The hope is demand stays hot, helping the Pride recover from the pandemic and ride out this rough patch.

“We struggled through two really, really difficult years and now even though some things are going up, if our numbers stay up, I think we’ll be okay," said Captain Bradshaw.  

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