CRUISE: North America’s Great Lakes, the new ‘hot spot’

2019 July 1: As the idea of cruising open seas for recreation brought a new industry to the Caribbean, so it has to rivers and lakes in Europe and North America. The Caribbean continues to attract the largest volume of cruise passengers and is still regarded as ‘cruise capital of the world’.. However, Travel and Leisure reports significant growth in the Great Lakes of North America.

Cruise operators on the Great Lakes are expanding their itineraries and fleets. And there has been a return to the region by operators who previously left. Enjoying the awesome beauty and charm of the Great Lakes on state-of-the-art boutique ships (with 100 or fewer passengers) is, for many, exactly ‘what the doctor ordered’. Away from the high-density experience of a Caribbean cruise on any of the mega cruise liners plying those routes, a Great Lakes cruise is becoming increasingly attractive.

MS Hamburg crosses Welland Canal which links Lake Erie with Lake Ontario.

Routes on the Great Lakes include an eight-day excursion on Lake Michigan, starting and terminating in Chicago. There is a 10-day cruise connecting Toronto and Chicago and a laidback 16-day trip from Chicago to New York City on Great American Waterways, passing through four of the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal, with shore visits featuring a wide variety of activities, from visits to historic sites and famous museums to back-in-time historical experiences.

Cruise Lines operating in the Great Lakes area that are expanding include Blount Small Ship Adventures, Pearl Seas Cruises and Victory Cruise Lines. Ponant, a French luxury cruise line is returning to the Great Lakes after 10 years. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will be offering a Great Lakes itinerary from Toronto to Chicago first sailing June 3 to 17, 2020. Also, the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, plans to will start luxury cruising of the Great Lakes in early 2020 with plans expand its fleet soon afterwards. []