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Cruising On The Great Lakes

Stroll In Quebec Canada

Why Great Lakes Cruising is on the Rise

There is a particular pleasure to strolling in Quebec. The old fortified town is full of historic buildings such as the Château Frontenac and the imposing Citadelle. Wander through the paved streets of the Petit-Champlain quarter edged with bistros and restaurants, walk along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, or cross the suspension bridge above Montmorency Falls at 83 metres high.

Lake Huron: Sand Dunes And Relaxation

Lake Huron is known for its sand dunes, wildlife, and islands. Its extensive shoreline is rocky and the lake is home to over 30,000 islands. The Harrisville area may have a great stretch of sandy beaches in the Michigan area , but St. Ignace serves as an ideal spot for a picnic or walk it has great views of Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge. Bruce Peninsula National Park in Canada, on the Georgian Bay shoreline, is also a popular destination with a grotto visitors enjoy.

It’s the second-largest Great Lake and the fourth largest lake in the world. The Strait of Mackinac connects Lake Huron with Lake Michigan.

The most common area that Great Lakes Cruises stop in on Lake Huron is Mackinac Island.

Lake Erie: Fishing And Birdwatching

This may be the smallest and shallowest of all the lakes but there is no shortage of natural beauty and wildlife in Lake Eerie. While all the lakes have adequate fishing, Lake Erie is the most productive, with Yellow Perch, Rainbow Trout, and Walleye being some of the top species caught here.

The Crane Creek State Park, in Ohio, and the adjacent Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is a paradise for birdwatchers. Viewing platforms allow enthusiasts to spot several species at this wildlife refuge.

Detroit and Cleveland are common stops along a Lake Eerie itinerary during Great Lakes Cruises. Niagara Fall is between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and is also popular on Great Lakes cruise itineraries.

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Best Great Lakes Cruise Lines

Most of the world’s biggest cruise lines including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line can’t operate in the Great Lakes because their ships are too big to enter the region through the St. Lawrence Seaway. This has turned the Great Lakes into an exclusive zone for a handful of smaller cruise operators that focus on very small vessels.

The three main players in Great Lakes cruising are Viking , Pearl Seas Cruises and America Queen Voyages. The first two lines each have one vessel devoted to the region . The latter line has two Great Lakes vessels: Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager.

All three of these lines cater to a generally older crowd, which is the main market for Great Lakes cruises. Viking’s itineraries have the most outdoorsy options mixed into its itineraries. Pearl Seas Cruises offers trips with a lot of small-town stops. American Queen Voyages weaves in more bigger city stops.

Two more lines that occasionally operate sailings in the region are German line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and France-based Ponant. Tour organizer Smithsonian Journeys also occasionally offers Great Lakes sailings using chartered Ponant vessels.

All of the above lines operate ships in the Great Lakes that carry fewer than 400 passengers. Some carry as few as 202 passengers. In general, the vessels are intimate and relatively high-end, with pricing to match.

When Do Cruises Go To The Great Lakes

Cruising the Great Lakes: Toronto to Chicago

The Great Lakes cruise season is a short one, due mostly to the weather. With winters being cold and snowy in the region, cruise lines stick to the warmer months of May to September for Great Lakes sailings.

The weather isn’t the only limiting factor. The cruise season in the Great Lakes is also limited in its length by the opening and closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway the system of locks, canals and channels that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Cruise vessels that operate in the Great Lakes can’t access the region until the locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway open for the summer, something that typically happens the last week of March. They need to be out of the Great Lakes before the St. Lawrence Seaway closes for the winter .

Great Lakes cruise weather can be chilly at the start of the season, with low temperatures in the 40s in May in some areas and highs in the 60s. It warms up considerably by July and August, with high temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

When you want to go will depend on which activities you want to do, how you feel about cool weather and the price. Cruises at the beginning of the Great Lakes cruise season in May are generally a bit less expensive than those in June, July, August and September.

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Best Time To Cruise The Great Lakes

Great Lakes cruises are only offered during warmer months and that’s the best time to cruise. You don’t want to necessarily be outside with strong wind, a winter coat, gloves, and a hat.

Cruises on the Great Lakes usually operate from April through October, with the majority of itinerary options happening in June, July, and September.

Late September and early October would be the best time to see the leaves change colors for fall . It may be colder during this time yet the opportunity to see the splendor of autumn’s colorful leaves is a bucket list adventure for many people.

Although there aren’t many itineraries in April, keep in mind it is chilly that time of year in the Great Lakes area. You also risk there being leafless tree branches and a lot less greenery in bloom in April than sailing during summer, for example.

Essential Trips The Great Lakes

In our imagination, the Great Lakes open onto infinite space. In fact, there are vast coniferous forests burnished with golden tones during the Indian summer, immense lakes interrupted by lush green islands and bays of turquoise water, rivers becoming torrential waterfalls… Before leaving for these legendary lands, here is some useful information.

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Day 3detroit Michigan Us

Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of the most significant collections of art in the nation, housed in a magnificent Beaux Arts building. See Diego Riveras monumental Detroit Industry mural, which captures the citys blue-collar history, as well as master works by Auguste Rodin Michelangelo Vincent van Gogh Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne. Continue to Grosse Point to visit the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Mansion.

Day 1depart Home City/toronto Canada / Embark The Ship / Lake Ontario / Welland Canal

Cruising The Great Lakes of North America | Cruising With Jane McDonald | Channel 5

Arrive in Toronto and cruise through eight locks of the Welland Canal, one of North Americas most important economic lifelines. Constructed in the early 19th century, the canal links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and was instrumental in opening the Great Lakes to commerce and prosperity the canal carries nearly 40 million tons of cargo per year. Enjoy a Captains Welcome Reception this evening.

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Best Great Lakes Cruise Ports

The best Great Lakes cruise ports include the handful of relatively big cities in the region, such as Chicago, that are loaded with cultural sites, nightspots and restaurants, as well as charming small towns such as Holland, Michigan. Great Lakes cruises also bring days that are all about getting up close to wonders both natural and human-made from towering Niagara Falls to the engineering marvel that is the Welland Canal.

The Journey Starts In Toronto And Sails To Duluth Minn

If ever you’ve wanted to experience all five of North America’s Great Lakes in a single trip, here’s your chance.

Viking Expeditions launched a new 15-day Great Lakes itinerary for summer 2023 starting in Toronto and sailing to Duluth, Minn. giving passengers the chance to experience each of the five Great Lakes.

The journey includes stops in Niagara Falls, Door County in Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Mackinac Island, a car-free oasis where horse-drawn carriages are a preferred method of transportation.

Mackinac Island is considered a national historic landmark. It’s home to one of the few Revolutionary War fortresses that remain intact and Victorian-era architecture that evokes the charm of another era.

City stops include Cleveland, home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Detroit, where you’ll find the Henry Ford and Motown museums and a lively Greektown where you can indulge in your wildest Halloumi dreams.

The new itinerary is among a handful Viking operates on the Great Lakes and one of a few new trips the cruise line has unveiled for 2023. It’s set to take place aboard the new Viking Polaris, which can accommodate 378 guests in its 189 staterooms.

Other new Viking itineraries include a 14-day Patagonian shores and Chilean fjords journey from Santiago, Chile, to Ushuaia, a town that’s been lovingly nicknamed “the end of the world.”

Meena Thiruvengadam is a travel writer who loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on and .

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Great Lakes Cruise Port Highlights

Chicago, Illinois: Whether you stroll along the Lake Michigan waterfront, wonder at the paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago or shop ’til you drop in the Magnificent Mile’s upscale stores, Chicago offers plenty of reasons to stay a few days pre- or post-cruise. Don’t miss taking a sightseeing boat along the Chicago River for an eye-opening architectural tour. Navy Pier, where your cruise ship comes in, has a Ferris wheel, gardens, cafes and shops.

Holland, Michigan: Settled by Dutch immigrants in the mid-1800s, Holland happily shows off its roots with thousands of tulips. Windmill Island Gardens boasts an authentic working Dutch windmill, dikes and canals. Costumed guides demonstrate traditional crafts, including making wooden clogs, at Nelis’ Dutch Village.

Mackinac Island, Michigan: Step back in time to the Victorian era. Cars are banned from the island, so you tour in horse-drawn carriages . Two must-sees are the beautifully preserved 1700s Fort Mackinac and the opulent Grand Hotel. Built of lumber in 1887 for the summer resort crowd, it boasts the world’s longest hotel porch. The renowned luncheon buffet overlooking Lake Huron is grand indeed.

Manitoulin Island, Ontario: You dock at Little Current, a charming community known for delicious ice cream and set on the world’s largest freshwater island. Attend a pow-wow and colorful dance show performed by the native Ojibwe tribe. Learn about their customs and art at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation.

Lake Michigan: Adventure Sports

" Cruise the Great Lakes Vintage Travel Poster"  Photographic Print by ...

From wreck diving to parasailing and kayaking, there is no shortage of opportunities for adventure on Lake Michigan. Over thirty parks are located on the shores of this Great Lake and the islands that dot it. There are a number of stunning spots like Empire Beach, St Joseph, and Grand Haven State Park for beach lovers.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore gives rise to sandy dunes that reach a height of 450 feet above Lake Michigan. Here, you can swim in the lake, hike through the park or climb the dunes.

Great Lakes Cruises that visit Lake Michigan commonly stop in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Mackinac Island in Michigan. Visitors love Mackinac Island in particular due to its absence of cars , small-town charm, Fort Mackinac, and excellent restaurants and pubs.

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Great Lakes Cruise Itineraries

The five Great Lakes cover a vast expanse. Starting in Minnesota, they stretch eastward, touching the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. On the Canadian side, four lakes border the province of Ontario. Lake Michigan alone is 307 miles long and 118 miles wide. Given these distances, most lake cruises include a day or three of relaxing cruising time.

Lake Superior is a special case, and it’s not on the basic lake-to-lake route, as it lies off to the northwest. Crossing it would mean backtracking to resume cruising on the other four lakes. Entering Lake Superior requires passage through the Soo Locks, and the lake is either omitted from itineraries or included only via a Soo Locks transit in and out again. If adding all five lakes to your bucket list is your goal, be sure your ship actually enters Lake Superior, if only briefly.

The most common itineraries you’ll find when looking at Great Lakes cruises are:

Great Lakes and Erie Canal: Longer cruises of 15 nights trace a similar route from Chicago, adding stops at Cleveland, Ohio, and Buffalo, NY, both on Lake Erie. A stop is made at the Lake Ontario port of Rochester, NY, before entering the Erie Canal, passing through New York Harbor and ending in Warren, RI.

Keep in mind that, heading east, you’ll be dropping in elevation through one or more sets of locks . Going west, you’ll be gaining in elevation. There’s a one-hour time change between Chicago and Toronto or Montreal.

International Partnership Aims To Boost Tourism

TRAVERSE CITY A view of the bay soon will feature more floating steel.

One passenger vessel, the MS Hamburg, already stops here twice a year, and is scheduled to anchor in Traverse City this fall on Sept. 30 and Oct. 15, from 2-7 p.m.

Another cruise ship, still under construction, in 2020 will begin stopping in Traverse City twice a year.

Those short visits offer local residents an interesting but fleeting view of huge vessels in West Grand Traverse Bay. But visits to Traverse City are just a drop in the Great Lakes bucket of passenger cruising.

For Traverse City, were never going to be a large port of entry for these ships, said Trevor Tkach, Traverse City Tourism president and CEO. We dont have a place where a large cruise ship could easily dock. We dont have the infrastructure.

Other communities in the Great Lakes already see more cruise ship traffic than Traverse City.

Ships can tie up to shore in Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto. That means passengers can access those cities simply by walking down a gangplank. Various companies offer cruises that stop at those ports, and at Mackinac Island and Sault Ste. Marie.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Aug. 30 held a press conference on Mackinac Island to help launch a new initiative to bring more cruise ships to the Great Lakes.

We think we have some of the finest destinations in the world if you look at the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence, Snyder said.

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The Catch: Cruising The Great Lakes

Broadcasting in our monthly PBS television program, The Catch is a Great Lakes Now series that brings you more news about the lakes you love. Go beyond the headlines with reporters from around the region who cover the lakes and drinking water issues. Find all the work HERE.

This month, The Catch features a story about cruising the Great Lakes.

Dan Kraker of Minnesota Public Radio is diving into a growing part of the Great Lakes tourism industry. While the cruise industry isnt new to the Great Lakes, its been modest up until this year. Estimates indicate nearly 20,000 people will cruise the Great Lakes this year on more than 100 cruises.

The 25 percent growth in the number of passengers since 2019 is a big jump

This past summer was a record-setting year for cruise ships in the Great Lakes, and thats meant a lot more tourists coming to the region, Kraker said Its also meant economic development for cities in the region.

Lake Superior: Outdoor Activities

Cruising the Great Lakes

Lake Superior is the coldest and clearest of all the five lakes. This is perhaps because of its somewhat remote location in the north. It is known for its iconic rock formations, gorgeous agate gemstones, and shipwrecks. Lake Superior shines like a beacon for outdoor explorers and nature buffs.

One of the biggest assets of Lake Superior is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Its multi-colored sandstone cliffs and formations attract nature-lovers on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the towering rocks is by staring at them from the waterline. You can either kayak or take a Minising Bay lake cruise, departing several times a day.

Cities on Lake Superior cruise ships often visit include Duluth, Minnesota, and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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Experiencing The Thunder Of Niagara Falls On The Us

North America’s most powerful waterfall and one of its most famous and often-visited natural treasures Niagara Falls actually comprises three distinctive waterfalls on the Niagara River, perched on the border of Ontario, Canada and New York. Every minute, some six million cubic feet of water plunges over the crests of the Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil Falls and tumbles down nearly 200 feet into the rocky gorge below into a thundering cauldron of water and mist. Experiencing the raw power of Niagara Falls firsthand is something you’ll never forget… and just what you’ll do as you first view the falls from a panoramic spot high above… then don a hooded raincoat and board a private boat for an up-close and very wet encounter with this iconic “wonder of the natural world.”Journey to Niagara Falls today, three distinctive waterfalls perched on the border of Ontario, Canada and New York. View the falls from high above as the water plunges, thenas you board the Maid of the Mist for

Great Lakes Cruise Tips

Prepare for lots of “sea” days. The long distances covered mean lots of time spent cruising. Bring a book or deck of cards. If you bring your laptop or iPad, be prepared for long periods without connections. Wi-Fi, when it’s available, is usually slow. Cell phone service generally works well, but be aware of your location — U.S. vs. Canada — and roaming fees.

Beware of engine noise. Long distances between ports also mean cruising at night. Choose you cabin carefully if engine noise keeps you awake. On small ships, forward cabins tend to be quieter.

Pack smart. What should you pack? Passports are required as you’ll be entering Canada. Flip-flops or sandals come in handy for the Niagara Falls boat tour. Yes, you can get seasick on the lakes. Bring your patches or pills in case of rough water.

Consider a pre- or post-cruise stay. Most Great Lakes cruises travel one way. Think about spending time before or after your cruise in Chicago, Toronto or Montreal. You won’t have time to visit these great cities if you don’t book some hotel time. Check with your cruise line for package deals.

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