The Great Lakes are together the largest body of freshwater in the world. Sail across Lake Michigan to charming Mackinac Island. Transit the Soo Locks into massive Lake Superior, the largest of the five lakes. Spend a fascinating morning with the Ojibwe people at pretty Georgian Bay. Cruise for an entire day on scenic Lake Huron, home to more than 30,000 islands. Tour Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum and enjoy a thrilling visit to spectacular Niagara Falls.
Knowledgeable guides join you on your tour to create a completely authentic experience in your travels. You’ll be joined by authors, photographers, historians, and local experts to provide additional insight into your journey, leading talks and special programs that add that little special extra to the destinations you visit.
Reminder – This tour is part of our Independent Traveler Program and not our Traditional Group tour programs. You still have the flexibility of multiple departures dates to choose from, security of group travel with small group sizes, freedom of travel on your own terms with excursion choices, and the convenience of internet-based tour information, NO mailed brochures. Ports subject to change, can’t be combined with any other promotional offers. Port charges $399.00 p/p extra. Gratuities of $15.00 p/p p/d suggested.
Your cruise vacation begins this afternoon in beautiful Chicago, Illinois where you’ll board the M/V Victory I and gather for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as we prepare to set sail on our Great Lakes journey.
Host to the busiest airport on the planet, Chicago ranked seventh in the world in the 2014 Global Cities Index and is considered one of the most “walkable” cities in the United States. Its cultural contributions include improvisational comedy (most notably The Second City comedy troupe); jazz, blues, soul, and house music; a rich collection of outdoor public artworks (including the Chicago Picasso); film, theater, and visual arts. The Chicago School and Prairie School of architecture were developed in this city, which was home to famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Chicago’s waterfront location, upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile & State Street, and robust nightlife are major draws.
Scenic Sailing on Lake Michigan
The only Great Lake located entirely within the United States, Lake Michigan has a surface area of more than 22,000 square miles, making it the fifth largest lake in the world. The name Michigan is believed to come from the native Ojibwe word mishigami, which translates to “great water.” After a scenic day of cruising, we’ll gather for a festive welcome reception, followed by dinner in the ship’s main dining room.
Mackinac Island, MI
This morning we’ll awaken in the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. After breakfast, we’ll go ashore for a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island, including the Victorian-era Grand Hotel, where the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed. During our tour, we’ll visit Fort Mackinac, which was constructed by the British in 1780, taken by the Americans in 1796, and reclaimed by the British at the start of the War of 1812. This evening, cocktail hour in the outdoor lounge features a captivating presentation by our onboard historian.
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (Whitefish Bay & Lake Superior)
Today, we’ll transit the Soo Locks from Lake Huron into Lake Superior at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Our guided excursion includes a tour of the Valley Camp Museum Ship, a stop at the Soo Locks viewing platform, and a walk through the visitor’s center to learn about the four parallel locks – MacArthur (1943), Poe (1895), Davis (1914), and Sabin (1919) – which pass an average of 10,000 ships per year.
Little Current, Manitoulin Islands (Georgian Bay)
This morning, we’ll cruise though the rugged beauty of Georgian Bay, sometimes called the sixth Great Lake. Our destination is Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island and home of the Ojibwa people, part of the First Nation of Anishinaabe. Also known by the anglicized name Chippewa, the Ojibwe are the largest population of First Nations people in continental North America. They speak the Anishinaabe language and live mostly in the Great Lakes region of Canada. They are known for their birch bark canoes, their cultivation of wild rice, the creation of dreamcatchers, and their historic use of pictographic birch bark scrolls.
Scenic Sailing of Lake Huron
The second largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Huron boasts a surface area of 23,000 square miles. Like the other Great Lakes, it was formed at the end of the last ice age as the glaciers retreated. With over 30,000 islands, Lake Huron has more shoreline than any of the other Great Lakes. After a scenic day of cruising, we’ll gather in the ship’s main dining room for a gourmet dinner.
Detroit, Michigan (Windsor, Ontario)
Sailing from Lake Huron to Lake Erie, the M/V Victory I will call on Windsor, Ontario, known as The City of Roses. Here, we’ll board a motorcoach and head to Detroit either via the Ambassador Bridge or tunnel. The Ambassador Bridge, a privately owned suspension bridge that connects Windsor with Detroit, Michigan. This bridge is the busiest international trade crossing in North America, supporting $13 billion (USD) in annual production. Just outside of Detroit, we’ll visit the Henry Ford Museum which was created to document the genius of ordinary people. Housed in a sweeping, nine-acre, single-floor space with soaring 40-foot ceilings the museum is dedicated to showcasing the finest collection of its kind. The sheer scope and design of the museum is as grand as the vision that inspired it. It’s impossible not to feel a sense of awe as your mind adjusts to the collection’s scale. Local expert docents will escort guests to see the museum’s highlights that include: the limousine that carried President John F. Kennedy on that fateful day in Texas, the bus in which Rosa Parks stood her ground and sparked the Civil Rights movement, and the chair from the Ford Theatre in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was shot.
Cleveland is a major city in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. Landmarks dating to its days as a turn-of-the-20th-century manufacturing center include the Steamship William G. Mather, now part of the Great Lakes Science Center. It’s also known for the stately Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the I.M. Pei–designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum And it’s famous West Side Market.
With origins of the land dating back to 1840 the West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market. Beginning as an open air marketplace on a tract of land donated by two Ohio City landowners, Josiah Barber and Richard Lord, at the corner of West 25th (Pearl) and Lorain it has undergone much growth and many improvements to arrive at its current form. The markethouse was dedicated and opened to the public in 1912. Its 137 foot clock tower has stood as a Cleveland landmark for over a century. Today the market is home to over 100 vendors of great ethnic diversity. You can find not only fine meats and fresh vegetables, but also fresh seafood, baked goods, dairy and cheese products, and even fresh flowers. Last year it is estimated that over a million people visited the market.
Niagara Falls (Welland Canal)
After a leisurely morning on board, we’ll disembark the ship at Port Colbourne on the southern end of the Welland Canal. The original Welland Canal was opened in 1829 and was extended to reach Lake Erie in 1833. The current canal was completed in 1932 and boasts eight locks. As the M/V Victory I awaits its turn to transit the locks, we’ll drive through the Niagara Wine Region, home to 25 vineyards and over 50 wineries. At Niagara Falls, we’ll embark on the famous Hornblower “Voyage of the Falls” for a cruise into the misty spray of Horseshoe Falls. Back on shore, we’ll drive along scenic Niagara Parkway to a charming local restaurant followed by a special visit to a local winery for a fabulous tasting before rejoining the ship at Port Weller.
Disembarkation in Toronto, Ontario
This morning, we’ll awaken at the port in Toronto, Ontario. After breakfast, you’ll disembark the M/V Victory I and make your way to the airport for your flight home.