Lake Geneva Cruise Line: Where Friendships Set Sail

women in office performing operational dutiesLake Geneva Cruise Line is a busy place and everyone works hard every day, but there is still time for fun and activities that allow friendships to develop. Over the years many employees have come and gone, but the friendships made here endure. Here are a few examples. 

Tori and Lexi

ladies standing next to a body of water posing for cameraTwo women who have become close friends since they started working here when they were just 15 years old are Tori Pollak and Lexi White. Now both are college graduates about to embark on their future careers after spending one last summer at Lake Geneva Cruise Line. 

Both Tori and Lexi started work in the ticket office selling boat tour tickets and answering questions to customers. Over the years they have both done just about every job available at the cruise line with the exception of driving the tour boats. We rely on both of them very much to be leaders and major contributors to our staff. 

ladies posing for cameraThis past spring Lexi graduated from UW Milwaukee with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. This fall she is beginning her graduate program at UW Whitewater and is working toward her M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She plans to pursue a career as a pediatric speech and language pathologist. 

Tori graduated in June 2023 from Stanford University with a B.A. in International Relations, with specializations in International Security and Comparative International Governance. This fall she is headed to New York City to work for the US Mission to the United Nations until December. After that she will continue to work at the Department of State before pursuing a master’s degree or a career in foreign service. 

Even though both of them are nearing the end of their time at Lake Geneva Cruise Line, we feel honored to have had them as a part of our team for all these years.


Ellen, Sue, and Kris

ladies posing in front of window and diners on a boatThings were a lot different at Lake Geneva Cruise Line in 1983! One big difference is that there were many more males than females on the staff. Three of those females that were here at that time were Ellen (Dare) Burling, Sue (Couffer) Zachary, and Kris (Kozar) Zaloudek. These three were all hired by former General Manager, Harold Friestad, and are all still very close friends who share a very special friendship 40 years later. Between them they now have seven children and three grandchildren. Six of their seven children also worked at Lake Geneva Cruise when they were in high school and college.

women in office performing operational dutiesEllen, Sue, and Kris all were chosen as mail jumpers, but were also part of the office staff. In the mid 80’s ticket sales were done on a cash register, and reservations were taken in a spiral notebook with all names and other information written in pencil so that they could be easily erased if changes or cancellations were made! In those days there were also many activities that brought the staff together outside of work including attending concerts, sand volleyball teams, softball games, and themed parties each summer. Ellen, Kris, and Sue enjoyed their time at work and outside activities and got to be very close friends – and still are! Ellen said, “When we get together, it’s like no time has passed. We pick up right where we left off every time.”



Harold and Steve

two men posing in front of lake geneva mapvintage photo of a group of people on a boatAt age 83 and 73, Harold Friestad and Steve Zwiebel have been friends since they both started working at Gage Marine in their youth. Over 50 years later, Harold is retired as General Manager of the cruise line and Steve is semi-retired, but still works part-time as a Captain. Both have put in countless hours in dedicated service to Gage Marine and Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Harold started out as a Captain while in college in the 1960’s and worked his way up to Vice President General Manager by 1968. He held that position until he retired in 2017. After being a regular visitor on the cruise line docks as a young kid, Steve was hired at age 18 as a boat crew and captain. Over the years, he captained all the excursion boats and also became a master woodworker and carpenter in charge of all woodworking and maintenance for the Cruise Line. Their friendship came from years and years of working together and experiencing countless “adventures” at work. Take some time to speak with either of them and you will learn a wealth of information about how the business and the company as a whole has changed over all these many years. We are lucky to have them as dedicated alumni of Lake Geneva Cruise Line.

Harold and Steve still meet every Thursday for lunch at Pier 290.


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