Steamboats operate scheduled services on eight of Switzerland's lakes today. Thanks to donations, the “Stadt Zürich” and “Stadt Rapperswil” have also been saved from the scrapyard. The two paddle steamers were renovated between 2003 and May 2006, and are now in use almost every day.
In July 1835, the first iron steamboat on the European continent, the “Minerva”, went into service on Lake Zurich. To keep pace with passenger demand at the start of the last century, two large paddle steamers were then ordered: the sister vessels “Stadt Zürich” (built in 1909) and “Stadt Rapperswil” (built in 1914). Together with the “Helvetia” (built in 1875, the largest paddle steamer on Lake Zurich), the three boats formed the backbone of the Zurich fleet for many decades.
Today, the Lake Zurich fleet comprises 17 boats: 15 motor vessels including three Limmat boats and the two remaining paddle steamers. The “Helvetia” left service in 1958, having covered a total of 200,000km. The newest member of the fleet is the 700-passenger boat “Panta Rhei”, launched in 2007. As in 1835, this heralds a new era in navigation on Lake Zurich.