great lakes cruises

Toronto to become a major port for cruise ships sailing the Great Lakes this year

When one thinks of a cruise, the first thing that comes to mind may be a dreamy tropical or arctic locale, but there are indeed boat tours that operate from here in Ontario, too.

The industry is poised to recover its image after ships became fecund grounds for COVID-19 outbreaks, and now that the federal government has dropped its ban on cruise travel, tours are kicking off again, including from Toronto.

Lines like Viking Expeditions, American Queen Voyages, Lakeshore Excursions and Pearl Seas Cruises are among those that haven't operated on the Great Lakes since 2019, and are set to not only just return, but expand, with T.O. serving as a major port, along with other Ontario locales.

Port Colborne, for example, which borders Lake Erie and is less than two hours' drive from downtown, has recently announced that it too will become a port for visitors looking to tour the interconnected fresh bodies of water that run along the Canadian-U.S. border.

The Great Lakes Cruise Association expects about 20,000 passengers this season, the CBC reports, which is up an entire 40 per cent from the last season in operation two years ago. And, Toronto specifically will see nearly 40 such ships dock in 2022.

This includes existing ships on existing routes, and also all-new ones designed just for the Great Lakes.

Of course, new pandemic protocols will be a part of every trip, whether it be routine COVID testing and temperature checks, vaccination requirements, ramped-up cleaning procedures, capacity limits or any of the other measures that have become ubiquitous amid our new normal.

Routes that stop in Toronto also dock in places like Chicago, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Manitoulin Island, Quebec City, Detroit, Halifax, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Charlottetown, and more, and include activities ranging from scenic hikes and whale watching to city outings.

Lead photo by

Pearl Seas Cruises

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