One of the most entertaining parts of the internet aside from memes is reading online reviews about companies. While we have hundreds of five star reviews, many “companies” that operate party boat rentals on Lake Travis are wildly unprofessional and see this more as a hobby than a business.

Some of the horror stories we’ve heard over the years about party boat rentals in the area have blown us away, from abusive staff to straight up scams.

Below, we outline the most common terrible mistreatments of folks like you, with a pledge that not only have we never committed any of these atrocities, you’ll never read about us doing so because we are operating a professional service and are serious about providing you with an entertaining yet clean and safe environment for creating memories.

If you want to talk with us anytime about any concern you have about the industry or our extremely high standards of operation, we invite you to contact us on our website or better yet, call us at (512) 400-4434 since we actually answer the phone seven days a week (that’s not the norm).

1. Unprofessional and Abusive Staff

One of the most common mistreatments is from the very people you’re counting on. Too often, if you try to make a reservation, you’re treated as an annoyance from that point forward.

When you arrive, you may be accused of being drunk by other companies for simply being excited to get on board. It’s a nasty habit with bad boat rental “companies” on Lake Travis, and they do this because you agreed to their terms at the time of reservation, typically allowing them discretion to turn away drunk guests. Some will turn away an entire party falsely so they can keep the deposit – read reviews of poorly rated companies, it’s sadly common.

Lone Star Party Boats Lake Travis, like any responsible boating company, reserves the right to keep parties safe by restricting drunk behavior, but you won’t read anywhere online that we used it as a false premise to steal anyone’s money.

Along those same lines, you’ll also see reviews online of captains partaking too much themselves and getting too friendly or driving irresponsibly (illegally). If any captain in our fleet stepped out of line in this way, they would be immediately terminated, yet hobbyists can’t fire themselves, so they just keep taking peoples’ money.

2. Refusal to Shift Itinerary

Another common abuse we see is captains refusing to shift an itinerary. Some boat rental “companies” will simply take you to their favorite hotspot, or the cove nearest where they launch. It is a lazy move so they save gas, they don’t have to actually take you on any cruise, and because they might want to drop anchor and swim off to the next boat over to meet their friends for a bit instead of minding your event. No joke.

It is a terrible sign when a rental company says they only go to one spot, and a worse sign when they say they’ll take your party anywhere, yet refuse to shift course. Imagine hosting a sweet family reunion and a captain is only willing to take you to a cove where people are drinking, and refuses to go to pull up anchor when another party nearby gets rowdy and starts blasting adult music, teaching your children new words they’d never heard before.

Laziness is embarrassingly common in this industry, but we’re extremely serious about what we do and because we are a growing brand, we would never allow this kind of behavior.

We know Lake Travis like the backs of our hands and we know every cove (including the famous Devil’s Cove!), even the secret coves locals want to keep to themselves, and we know how to match an itinerary with your event’s goals. And if you decide to change them while on board, we’re prepared to handle it professionally and adjust with you.

broken down boat in the water

3. Terrible Equipment and Frequent Breakdowns

There is one “company” on Lake Travis that is famous for breaking down. There is nothing wrong with building a boat yourself by hand, that’s admirable. But if it’s a hunk of junk that looks nothing like the picture used online, it’s a scam.

One company uses this as a way to steal peoples’ money by starting the craft, getting 10 feet away from the dock, and then “oh no, we broke down” and the captain has to call a buddy to help them back in so they don’t float too far away, never to refund a cent.

Another common theme among the bad actors is simply having poor equipment. You can’t throw a bachelorette boat party if only one tiny speaker in the corner works. You can’t host a corporate event if the door to the bathroom has been torn off of the hinges. You can’t have a birthday party if no one is willing to sit because all of the seat cushions are torn up and burned by cigarettes.

We have pictures of our fleet on the very front page of our website, and there are hundreds of photos of every double decker we have, with hundreds of Instagram pictures we and other people have taken.

There’s no mystery about what you’ll get with us, yet others will simply use a stock photo of a random boat.

4. Cleanliness

Summer gets busy in our industry, and it is normal to have several charters back to back in one day. But we always build in time to clean up in between parties – look at the pictures from Instagram linked above, our fleet is really really nice, and we’re obsessive about keeping it that way.

We once read a review of a rental company whose boat had fleas. Fleas! Can you imagine!?

Another said bathrooms were available, but then once out on the water mentioned casually that the toilet was broken. How in the world is a four hour party supposed to hold it for the entirety of the event!? The captain didn’t care, joking that the entire lake is a toilet. Unacceptable.

Another fun review was about an angry captain who kept yelling at everyone the entire time to throw their cups away faster because the minute they were to be dropped off, another party would be joining. “Chug!” he kept saying. We would never ruin your event by abusing you in this way, because it was already clean when you arrived, you’re adults and will clean up after yourself, and we’re going to clean it before the next party because we’re professionals.

We’re never going to freak out and impose that panic on you because of an inability to build in time to clean.

interior seating of a party boat

5. The Nasty Scam of Overbooking

What blows us away more than almost any other unprofessional behavior is the scam some companies use of overbooking and last minute canceling.

We wish it was a rarity, but unfortunately, there are scummy people in every industry, and in this one, it is not uncommon for a “company” to overbook and send you a text the day of, stating they’re canceling due to the error, and they’ll refund the deposit (but often never do).

How these people are still in business is baffling, and we doubt they’re insured or operating legally in many instances.

Imagine after spending all that time planning a bachelor party, then getting your entire party dressed and ready to go and getting a flippant text or call from an annoyed captain, or worse, their “assistant” which is some random person.

It can happen innocently in our industry, and sometimes it does. Not all captains come from a professional background, so they are disorganized, simply jotting notes in pencil on a doodle pad somewhere on the boat when you call to reserve.

We handle all reservations online which eliminates that option, gives you a paper trail, and keeps things as professionally as your dollars deserve them to be. We’ve literally never had this problem – again, read our reviews.

6. The Nasty Scam of Fake Damage

This problem is less common, but there are a few “captains” on Lake Travis that will charge your credit card the next day for a few hundred dollars, claiming damages. This claim comes with no evidence, no time stamped photos (or photos at all), and then they won’t answer the phone when you call and they suddenly ignore emails.

One company is said to claim that the underside of the vessel was scratched during the allotted time and charges people for that fairly often. Many online reviewers have noted they’re taking them to small claims court – we don’t know the outcome of that.

If we choose to take any boat too close to shore and scratch the bottom, that’s not a choice you made, it is one we made (which we would NOT, for the record), and you won’t be punished for that.

You’ll never have any surprise charges that lack any backup. A few others do it as a less common, but still untenable scam.

The Takeaway

Reading reviews are so important when selecting a boat rental company. Sure, there will always be Karens who won’t get their details straight and just want to yell at the internet since they can’t yell at their husbands, but for the most part, we urge you to take repeated complaints about rental companies seriously.

We’ve outlined the six most common and egregious misbehaviors, and would assert that most are committed by hobbyist “captains” that are just trying to make some extra cash. We’ve never been accused of any of these sins because we’re one of the few professional class party boat rental companies on Lake Travis, and we’ve earned our vast sea of five star reviews.

We’re happy to chat about any of our professional standards on the phone or via email, and we look forward to earning your business.