America's Great Lakes (Chicago to Toronto)
10 days with Alexander+Roberts Rating:
Day 1 – Board the mv Victory I in Chicago
A chauffeured transfer takes you from the airport to downtown Chicago where the mv Victory I awaits. Settle in to your stateroom before sitting down to a congenial dinner with free-flowing wines, cocktails and beverages as we chart a northward course on Lake Michigan. (D)
Day 2 – Cruising Lake Michigan
Take in the scenery from the Observation Deck or as you enjoy a cocktail in the Lounge. You can also join enriching talks with our Great Lakes experts. (B+L+D)
Day 3 – Mackinac Island
With no cars allowed on the island, your horse-drawn carriage tour is a great way to experience the Victorian ambience of this National Historic Landmark. Learn about the island’s history and see turn-of-the-century summer homes built by early captains of American industry. High atop a bluff overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, your tour of Fort Mackinac delves into its strategic importance during the War of 1812.
Then take in the views from the Grand Hotel’s verandah, the longest in the world, and enjoy the hotel’s Grand Luncheon Buffet. Back in town, you’ll have time to browse through galleries and boutiques. Before our ship sets sail this evening, the Grand Hotel’s resident historian Bob Tagatz will come onboard for a colorful talk on the history of Mackinac Island and its world-famous hotel. (B+L+D)
Day 4 – Through the Soo Locks to Sault Ste. Marie
You might wish to arise early this morning as the mv Victory I transits through the historic Soo Locks where freighters, barges and tugboats traverse the 21-foot drop of the St. Mary’s River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The first lock here was built in 1855 and the canal was navigated by 27 vessels during its first year of operation. Today, more than 10,000 ships hauling 86 million tons of cargo pass through these historic parallel locks each year, even though they’re closed during the winter when ice shuts down shipping on the upper Great Lakes! After traveling upward through the locks into Lake Superior, we’ll return downward to dock on the northeastern banks of the St Mary’s River at Roberta Bondar Place – named for Canada’s first female astronaut.
This afternoon, you can tailor your sightseeing with the included guided tour of your choice – showcasing either the Canadian or US side of the border:
+ On the Canadian side, guests will visit the Bush Plane Heritage Center to learn about the history and delve into the exciting stories of the country’s bush-plane forest fire protection efforts. At the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site, you’ll see two of the oldest stone buildings in Canada, both surrounded by period gardens that offer a look into the region’s pioneering days.
+ Guests choosing to visit the American side of Sault Ste. Marie will tour the Valley Camp Museum, set inside the enormous hold of a cargo ship that plied the Great Lakes from 1917 through 1966. You’ll be able to explore nearly every inch of the ship, including fascinating exhibits that trace the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes. Among the informative and sometimes moving artifacts are two lifeboats that were torn away from the Edmund Fitzgerald before she sank. Before returning to ship, this tour also includes a viewpoint over the Soo Locks.
Both sightseeing tours will return to ship in time for our guests to refresh and relax before another sumptuous dinner accompanied by the fine wines, beverages and cocktails of your choice. (B+L+D)
Day 5 – Little Current on Manitoulin Island
Early this morning finds our ship navigating through the waters and islands that lead into picturesque Georgian Bay, sheltered by the rocky shores and forested hills of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. After breakfast you’ll step ashore in Little Current, Ontario. This charming town is the gateway to Manitoulin, the largest freshwater island in the world. Learn about the island’s nautical heritage and its natural history as you make the scenic 30-minute drive to the Immaculate Conception Church. With a unique in-the-round architectural style that evokes a teepee and the circle of life, this church is the spiritual focal point of the local community and brings together the beliefs and customs of the native Ojibwe culture and the Catholic Church. Later at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, you’ll enjoy a guided tour through the art galleries and enlightening state-of-the-art exhibits of this heritage museum. If you wish, you can browse in the Foundation’s artisan shop and participate in a smudging ceremony, an ancient purifying ritual that uses the smoke from cedar, sage, sweet grass and other plants that are regarded for their healing powers. A narrated drum and dance performance offers further insight into Ojibwe cultural traditions. Back in Little Current, you can return to ship or linger in town to explore at your own pace. Meals B+L+D
Day 6 – Cruising Lake Huron
Indulge in another delightful day of cruising aboard the mv Victory I. (B+L+D)
Day 7 – The Henry Ford Museum
From Windsor, Ontario, the original home of the Ford Motor Company, we’ll cross the bridge into the United States and visit the Henry Ford Museum. More than just a showcase of the auto industry, this museum explores 300 years of history, culture and innovation. Among the highlights are the limo that transported John F. Kennedy through Dallas on November 22, 1963 and the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in December 1955. (B+L+D)
Day 8 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Industrial landmarks from its days as a lakeside manufacturing town still stand in testament to Cleveland’s roots. But the city of today is also ¤lled with beautiful urban spaces and is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Here in a striking structure designed by I. M. Pei, you’ll discover more than just a museum of rock and roll memorabilia. With our expert guide, you’ll explore the evolution of the musical genre that shaped a generation and track its cultural impact. Among the exhibits are Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche and Michael Jackson’s famous glove. You’ll also explore the wonderful West Side Market, set in a 1912 landmark and home to more than 100 vendors. (B+L+D)
Day 9 – The Welland Canal + Niagara Falls
Opened in 1829, the Welland Canal continues to play a vital role, allowing goods to travel from Great Lakes ports like Cleveland and Detroit to the ocean ports of Montreal and Quebec. As our ship begins its Canal transit, you’ll step o? in Port Colborne for a scenic drive into the vineyard-laced landscapes of the Niagara Peninsula. Then a thrilling Hornblower Cruise takes you through the Great Niagara Gorge and past Bridal Veil Falls into the very heart of Horseshoe Falls - where the mighty spray and roar of Niagara virtually envelop you! At the Château des Charmes, founded by a fifth-generation French winegrower, you’ll enjoy a tour, tasting and lunch. You’ll have free time to explore Niagara-on-the-Lake before reboarding the mv Victory I, now docked in Port Weller on Lake Ontario. (B+L+D)
Day 10 – Disembark in Toronto
Disembark in Toronto where we’ll take you to the airport or your hotel. (B)
All This Included
Cruising: Cabin aboard mv Victory I
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.