What To Pack For Your Trip
Leave your evening wear and stilettos at home: its more about being casual and comfortable on Viking Octantis.
Take a warm waterproof puffer jacket for shore excursions, a fleecy top, sturdy shoes, hat, mosquito repellent and sunscreen. The sun can be fierce even on cloudy days.
For evening, smart pants, shirts and casual dresses suit the expedition-style ship. Dont forget your swimmers: the Nordic hydrotherapy pool is fabulous.
Binoculars are supplied and wet weather pants can be borrowed. Theres a drying closet in your stateroom for damp clothes and laundries on each floor are complimentary.
Readers Choice Awards are back for 2022!
Vote for your favourite cruise lines for a chance to win a $400 Vintage Cellars voucher.
Categories include best new ship, most delicious food and the most sustainable ships
Ocean Navigator And Ocean Voyager
- Great Lakes sailings: American Queen Voyages sails 10-night cruises between Chicago and Toronto and 14-night cruises between Chicago and Montreal . Fares from $5,000 per person.
- Book now:AQVoyages.com
American Queen Voyages two coastal ships in the Great Lakes are the 202-passenger Ocean Voyager and sister ship Ocean Navigator . The ships debuted in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Especially noteworthy: They are the only ships that dock at Chicagos Navy Pier.
Both the Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator feature recently updated traditional decor. Accommodations range from small, 146-square-foot cabins and deluxe staterooms with a shared outdoor deck to 335-square-foot owners suites with private veranda and living room area. Fares include unlimited open bar and use of bikes for shoreside rides.
In addition to the main Coastal Dining Room, the ships have a casual buffet venue. The Compass Lounge is the place for port talks and entertainment. Theres also a small tavern, gym, spa, and outdoor hot tub. Local musicians come onboard for performances, such as a Motown tribute in Detroit.
What To Bring On A Great Lakes Cruise
When it comes to packing for a Great Lakes cruise, your mantra should always be: dress in layers. It can be chilly in the morning in the more northerly parts of the Great Lakes, particularly at the start of the Great Lakes cruising season, but then warm up fast.
If you’re planning to do some outdoorsy pursuits, such as kayaking or hiking, be sure to bring appropriate activewear. And don’t forget to pack a rain jacket, if not a complete rain gear outfit, including a wide-brimmed waterproof hat, rain pants and waterproof shoes or boots.
Also, and this is critical: Don’t forget your passport. Many of the places you’ll visit in the Great Lakes will be in the United States and do not require a passport. But every Great Lakes cruise includes at least a few and sometimes many stops in Canada, where a valid U.S. passport, passport card or NEXUS card is required to enter if you’re a U.S. citizen.
Recommended Reading: How To Get The Best Cruise Deals
Great Lakes Cruise Highlights
Visit the 5 Great LakesThe Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth and on a Great Lakes cruise you can explore their natural beauty. Created by receding glaciers and interconnected, the five great lakes can be visited on a variety of 7 to 14 day cruises with ease and comfort.
Great Cities & TownsSome of the highlights of a Great Lakes cruise includes stops in Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Duluth, Cleveland, and Montreal. Smaller towns such as Mackinac Island, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste.Marie, Georgian Bay can also be explored.
Niagara FallsKnown for its jaw-dropping scenic beauty, thundering roars and shimmering rainbows, Niagara Falls has captivated millions of visitors. The raw power of six million cubic feet of water rushing over the Falls every minute of the day, is a genuine wonder of the world that can be experienced on a great Lakes cruise.
Fall FoliageThe fall foliage is one of the highlights of a Great Lakes cruise when colors of autumn explode with vibrant colors. The best time to enjoy the fall colors in the Upper Peninsula is mid-September to mid-October, with the peaks in October.
Special Cruise Offers
Mackinac Island & The Grand Hotel
Going ashore at Mackinac Island, everyones favorite call, we walked the narrow streets of a wooden 19th-century town where automobiles have been banned since before 1900.
The village nestles beneath the mighty turreted Grand Hotel, the worlds largest summer resort.
It features a colonnaded front porch hundreds of feet in length, a handsome, light-filled restaurant seating over 1,000 guests, intimate parlors scattered on several floors and traditional wood-paneled accommodations, including five suites decorated to the style of five living presidential first ladies.
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is a favorite destination for generations of families. * Photo: Ted Scull
Cascading flower gardens rimmed terraced lawns set up for bocce ball and croquet. Its a place I wanted to return to for a longer visit.
And a few years ago, during a two-week driving trip amongst the lakes, my wife and I stayed three nights at the Grand Hotel taking advantage of a midweek special.
It met all our expectations of what a truly grand hotel was and still is here on Mackinac Island.
Suellyn & Ted Scull on the worlds longest colonnaded front porch. * Photo: Unknown hotel guest.
Note: A casual visit by outsiders is not possible to keep down what would be hordes of tourists invading the place, hence have the cruise line make arrangements.
Also Check: What Cruise Lines Leave From Charleston Sc
Through Lake Michigan To Chicago & Its Attractions
Our ship then sailed overnight to Chicagos Navy Pier, a grand entry into the city, housing a variety of amusements for children, exhibitions, restaurants, and park gardens.
Early morning arrival at Chicago. * Photo: Ted Scull
Chicago has great museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the worlds largest collections. Notable are American art, Japanese prints and Buddhist art great masters and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings the Field Museum for Science Museum of Science and Industry for a full-size coal mine a captured German submarine U-505 and a vast model railroad.
At 1,451 feet, the Willis Tower gives an outstanding view of the city, Millennium Park, the lake front and Lake Michigan.
The Architecture Center gives regular walking tours of the citys outstanding buildings and neighborhoods, and occasionally by boat along the Chicago River that slices through the city center as it flows inland from the lake. Yes, the river that flows backwards.
The Cloud Gate reflects the sky and is also known at the Bean Millennium Park. * Photo: Ted Scull
Sailing And Selling The Great Lakes: What To Know About Cruise Offerings
Great Lakes. Photo: Shutterstock.com
The appeal of the Great Lakes as a cruise itinerary was gaining traction prior to 2020, but a global pandemic has only accelerated interest in this multifaceted destination spanning the U.S. and Canada, considered close to home by North Americans. The entrance of Viking into the region gives this cruise option even more household recognition, and its also expanding the definition of a Great Lakes cruise from quaint, sleepy sails into lakeside ports to expedition-style voyages with active excursion options and science-based enrichment.
Primarily summer vacation communities for Canadians and Midwesterners, the territory of the five Great Lakes is still being charted by cruise lines providing 20 percent of the earths fresh surface water, these lakes contain a whopping 6 quadrillion gallons and at times feel more like sailing a sea than a lake, with water stretching beyond the horizon line. Its a lot of land and lake to cover in one voyage, giving cruise companies exciting opportunities to develop and expand on Great Lakes offerings into the future.
So, what do clients need to know if theyre considering a Great Lakes cruise vacation? This overview of cruise lines, itineraries, and practical tips aims to help answer those questions.
Popular Great Lakes cruise ports include Milwaukee, Wisconsin Detroit, Michigan Parry Sound, Ontario the Soo Locks of Salt Ste. Marie Cleveland, Ohio Niagara Falls in Ontario and more.
Read Also: What Cruise Lines Depart Out Of New Orleans
Back In Time On Michigan’s Mackinac Island
Vehicle-free Mackinac Island off the Michigan coast in the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lakes Michigan and Huron has been a popular retreat since 19th-century industrialists built imposing summer “cottages” here, and remains serenely lost in time. The only way to get around is by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage, as you make your way past impeccable Victorian mansions and out to the fringes of forest, marshes, beaches and 19th-century Fort Mackinac. The island is home to the palatial Grand Hotel, which lays claim to the longest porch in the world. Since 1887, the Grand has hosted many presidents, as well as the likes of Mark Twain and Thomas Edison .
How To Enroll In A Program
Please call us toll free at 426-8056, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET. You may also enroll online at www.roadscholar.org. To reserve space on a program, Road Scholar requires a deposit followed by final payment.
Road Scholar is Not-For-Profit
Road Scholar is a not-for-profit 501 organization that incurs over $5 million annually on credit card fees. Please help us reduce this cost by paying for your program with a check. Please consider our paperless check option when paying on the phone or over the Internet. Our Advisors are happy to explain this payment option to you.
As a not-for-profit organization, we appreciate and rely on charitable donations to help us develop and maintain high-quality educational programs with exceptional value. Donations from U.S. citizens are tax-deductible as provided by law. As Road Scholar is not a registered charity in Canada, donations are not tax deductible for Canadian citizens.
Road Scholar offers two kinds of assistance: Scholarships, for those with desire but not the financial means to participate in our U.S.- or Canada-based learning adventures and Caregiver Grants, designed to provide a unique respite opportunity for unpaid family caregivers to participate in a U.S.- or Canada-based Road Scholar program. Visit www.roadscholar.org/about/financial-assistance/scholarships, email us at [email protected], or call us toll free at 426-8056.
Day 4tobermory Ontario Canada
Cruise the coastline of Bruce Peninsula National Park, a protected area and part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In the traditional harbor village of Tobermory, embark on a glass-bottom boat cruise from Little Tub Harbor to Big Tub Harbor, which preserves almost twodozen 19th-centuryshipwrecks. See the remains of the schooner Sweepstakessubmerged in only 20feet of water with its hull almost completelyintact. Observe picturesque Big Tub Lighthouse which has been guiding ships since 1885, and the charm of Flower Pot Island, famous for its natural flowerpot rock pillars, sea stacks, and wave-carved caverns.
Cross The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge By Bike California
San Francisco is famous for its steep roads, but it is still pleasant to cycle around certain neighbourhoods. From the famous Fisherman’s Wharf waterfront, a 13-km route takes you to the small town of Sausalito, passing by the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Exceptional viewing points and houses along the waterfront make this an unforgettable trip.
Don’t Miss: Msc Cruise Ships By Size
Great Lakes Cruise Industry Rides Wave Of Sustainability
The resurging Great Lakes cruise industry is charting a course toward sustainability.An association of cruise lines, tourism agencies, port authorities, U.S. states and Canadian provinces has launched a sustainability pledge for ship operators and local communities in response to increasing demand for sustainable travel options.
MiBiz magazine reports that Cruise the Great Lakes consulted with cruise ship operators, global cruise organizations, and local communities to create the pledge consisting of 19 commitments in four categories: destination stewardship, air emissions and carbon reduction, wastewater disposal, and recycling.Environmental sustainability and carbon reduction align with Michigans recently announced MI Healthy Climate Plan, whose goal is a carbon-neutral Michigan economy by 2050 to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
David Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan and chairperson of CTGL, said the latest members to join the pledge are the visitors bureaus of Holland and Muskegon, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, and Pure Michigan, along with the visitors bureau and port authority of Detroit. While not all CTGL members have signed on, Lorenz said he expects most eventually will.
There are going to be more ideas that pop up, and Im sure our members will sign onto those additional ideas, he said.
: The Pearl Mist cruise ship enters Lake Michigan at Holland, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Cruise the Great Lakes.
Great Lakes Cruise Ships 2022 & 2023
Sailing the Great Lakes of North America, you’ll find many fantastic cruise ships. From historically accurate replicas of older ships to modern ships featuring the latest technologies, each Great Lakes cruise ship is unique. Experiences in their own right, these ships can feature luxurious cabins, delicious eateries, lounges, and much more.Most cruise ships on the Great Lakes are significantly smaller than their oceanic counterparts, due the tighter locks and rivers they have to sail through. You’ll find that the vast majority hold less than 300 passengers, making cruises more immersive, personal, and spacious for you. On these cruises, you’ll have the chance to get to know other cruisers and crew members as you visit incredible destinations together.
Don’t Miss: What Hotels Are Close To The Miami Cruise Port
Day 3sault Sainte Marie Michigan And The Soo Locks
Cruise into Lake Superiorthe deepest of the GreatLakesto Whitefish Point, the eastern end of the 50-mile Skeleton Coast. Named for the nautical remains of over 300 shipwrecks, including the famed Edmund Fitzgerald, it offers breathtaking views of the Lake Superior shoreline.
Known to Native Americans as the Gathering Place, Michigans oldest town of Sault Saint Marie played a vital role in the Great Lakes economy following the construction of the National Historic Landmark Soo Locks, one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of the 19th century.
Maritime history is evocatively presented at SS Valley Camp, a retired lake freighter built in 1917, featuring exhibits that depict the faithfully restored living quarters of Great Lakes sailors and the tragic loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Transit the impressive locks, tour the Soo Locks Interpretation Center, and watch as colossal freighters lower 21 feet from Lake Superior to enter Lake Huron.
Private Boat Charters On Lake Erie
Great Lakes Boat Charters is a Cleveland-based, family-owned private boat charter company offering fun and unique boating activities for up to 6 passengers on Lake Erie.
Choose your day, guests, boat and activities, and our US Coast Guard Licensed Captain gives you the chance to spend uninterrupted quality time together.
Read Also: How To Buy Norwegian Cruise Line Stock
Great Lakes Cruising To Sault Ste Marie
Docking on the Canadian side of Sault Ste. Marie, separate sets of Canadian and American Locks tame the St. Marys River rapids that flow from Lake Superior into Lake Huron.
During the call, many passengers rode the scenic route of the Algoma Central Railway to a picnic site and hiking trails in beautiful Agawa Canyon where autumn leaves were just beginning to show their colors.
Entering the Soo Locks en route to Lake Superior. * Photo: Ted Scull
Having taken this highly worthwhile excursion, I opted instead for an all-day outing to a provincial park bordering the north shore of Lake Superior walking amongst the sand dunes and enjoying a wooded trail up to a majestic waterfall. Note: Some people who cannot relax find the ride too long.
The 1917-built Valley Camp, an example of the unusual profile of a Great Lakes freighter, welcomes boarders to tour the exhibits, including an extensive one on Great Lakes shipwrecks, and vessels pilothouse, engine room, and crew quarters.
Great Lakes Cruises That Will Inspire You To Explore North America
Five inland lakes make up the Great Lakes in North America, and one of the best ways to explore them is by signing up for Great Lakes Cruises. The lakes include Lake Superior, Michigan, Erie, Huron, and Ontario. They stretch across eight U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario, spanning over 745 miles. Together they supply an astonishing 20% of the freshwater of Earth, apart from providing a host of other uses like transportation and recreation.
The Great Lakes are truly beautiful and majestic. When considered as one vast body of water, the surface of the Great Lakes accounts for the largest body of fresh water on Earth. And cruises on the Great Lakes have extraordinary routes and stops on their journey.
What better way to explore the iconic cities, sites, and passageways of these legendary waters than with a scenic cruise? A thrilling expedition will not only uncover some enticing destinations along the five historic lakes but will aptly showcase the breathtaking splendors of its coastline and its spectacular wildlife.
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post, which means we may earn a small commission if you click the link and proceed with a purchase, at no cost to you. We truly only recommend hotels, products, and services we personally use. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Recommended Reading: What’s The Best Cruise Line
Take A Cultural Break At San Diego’s Balboa Park California
Balboa Park is one of the largest cultural parks in the US. This is because it has 15 museums, arts venues, gardens and a zoo that is one of the best in the world. Among these sites, the San Diego Museum of Art is particularly known for its works from all over the world, but also for its contemporary collections where works by Dali, Matisse and Picasso mix with those by Gauguin, Munch, Braque, O’Keeffe and Magritte.
Cruise Industry Rebounds In Great Lakes: If You Build It They Will Come
MUSKEGON Cruise the Great Lakes is having a record year, as passengers return by the thousands to Midwest cruise lines.
I think that inability to travel made people even more desirous to go traveling through cruising, said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan. There was this real pent-up demand.”
In their first full season since the pandemic began, the group found an all-time high of nearly 150,000 passengers visiting Great Lakes ports, up 25 percent from 2019.
“It is growing,” Lorenz said. “Its getting more people to come here to spend some time and some significant amount of money here as well. And that helps us to grow and retain jobs in our region.
Former Gov. Rick Snyder helped launch Cruise the Great Lakes in 2018. Its an international partnership designed to bring more people to the lakes, boosting Michigans tourism.
“We felt if we could get them to come to the Great Lakes to get a sample of what they could enjoy, if they were to come here for a week or two, or even come here for school as an investment or to live here, we felt like we could really benefit from it, Lorenz said. All of us.
They say its a boon for cities like Muskegon a frequent stop on the trips and its local businesses.
Lorenz agreed with Larsen.
If you build it, they will come, Lorenz said.
You May Like: Two Day Cruise To Bahamas