After a successful “Dare to be Beautiful” cruise in August with local businesswomen Jessica “J Bohn” Bishop, Lisa Floyd and Aundrea Smiley, Virginia Dare Cruises decided to give the theme another go Thursday, and it turned out to be even more successful focusing on fall at the lake.

Bishop claimed the first cruise was a great test cruise to see how they would want to do another in the future.

“I had a great time on the last cruise, but this one just went to another level with the Halloween theme and renaming the cruise just a tad to ‘Dare to be Boo-tiful,’” she said.

Laurie Stuckey, who does marketing for the Virginia Dare, came up with the idea of featuring small businesses on the boat and asked Bishop and Aundrea Smiley of Valor & Grace if they would co-host a themed cruise. The first cruise featured these two, and Lisa Floyd with mini paintings.

This cruise featured Bishop, Floyd and more. Bishop had her section, which featured women’s accessories from “KEEPin’ Up with J Bohn.” The accessories included jewelry, clothing, bags, hats and other personalized items. Other vendors included handmade jewelry by “KinleyMae Jewelry,” which is ran by a young entrepreneur named Raven Smith, a junior at Staunton River High School. Serafina Spa also was on board taking part, giving out free massages and sharing their product line. Floyd, again, supplied the cruise with something hands-on, this time an adult coloring fall piece she drew of Smith Mountain Lake. 

The cruise started at 6 p.m. Thursday and lasted for two hours. Bishop noted that this cruise having wonderful weather and being at sunset is already appealing without the vendors on board.

“For them to go on a sunset cruise, that in itself is worth what they paid,” she said.

Ticketholders also were treated to catering, which featured barbeque sliders and nachos prepared by Bishop, as well as macaroni and cheese prepared by Buddy’s BBQ. Desserts were served such as pumpkin rolls, chocolate and spice cupcakes, and a candy bar topped with chocolate, peanuts and candy corn. After the sunset and the evening cooled down, hot chocolate from the Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House was made available for drinking to keep warm.

With a good selection of small business owners on board, the cruise saw lots of women of all different age ranges laughing, talking and enjoying themselves. These memories were captured on the cruise by Trevor Smith, owner of TAS Photography, who Bishop had come on the cruise to take photos throughout the evening to look back on and remember.

After two successful cruises, Bishop has interest in doing a third cruise.

“I would love to do it again,” she said.

Bishop said she believes if another cruise happens, it will be in the spring and hopes that restrictions from COVID-19 will be done by then to host more vendors and passengers on the next cruise.

Although that is months away, right now Bishop is counting her blessings from hosting these cruises and said she was thankful for the Virginia Dare for allowing her to do this again.

Seeing how it turned out better than the first cruise, it’s understandable why she is grateful.

“Last time, I think I was just so nervous. I didn’t know how it was going to go, so I came into this one knowing what to expect and how things were going to go,” Bishop said. “It was beyond my expectations.”

Read more in the next week's issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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