America’s Great Lakes boast extraordinary views of rigid coastlines, vast waterways, quaint coastal towns, and in the fall, vibrant oranges and reds of autumnal trees. Join us aboard the new Victory I for the National Trust’s first group sailing on the Great Lakes in a number of years. On this all-inclusive, luxury coastal expedition, you will traverse the Great Lakes and gain first-hand knowledge of the Ojibwe culture, breathe in the crisp autumn air, gaze at the stunning fall foliage, and discover some of America’s most dynamic and vibrant cities.
Historian John Meffert is a consultant with Heritage Conservation Services and long-time proponent of conservation. He formerly served as the Director of Heritage Conservation’s Southern Offices and the Director of the Preservation Society of Charleston in South Carolina. A frequent and favorite leader among National Trust travelers, John delights in regaling tour groups with lectures and insights on preservation and history.
Saturday, September 1
Arrive in the beautiful city of Chicago, step on board Victory I, and join us for a welcome reception before embarking on a spectacular voyage across the Great Lakes.
SCENIC SAILING ON LAKE MICHIGAN
Sunday, September 2
Enjoy a scenic day sailing across Lake Michigan, the only Great Lake located entirely within the United States. Aptly named after the Ojibwe word mishigami meaning “large lake,” Lake Michigan is the fifth largest lake in the world with a surface area of more than 22,000 square miles. Tonight, gather for a festive reception and Captain’s dinner in the main dining room.
MACKINAC ISLAND, MI
Monday, September 3
Arise to explore the Straits of Mackinac which connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. After breakfast, disembark onto Mackinac Island, the idyllic island where cars are forbidden and bicycles share the road with horse-drawn carriages. On a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride, explore the picturesque island’s sites such as the Victorian-era Grand Hotel where Somewhere in Time was filmed. Visit the impressive Fort Mackinac, built atop a high cliff by the British in 1780. Cap off the day with a cocktail in the outdoor lounge while listening to a presentation by Grand Hotel’s Bob Tagatz, a Historic Hotels of America Historian of the year award winner.
SOO LOCKS, (UP BOUND, DOWN BOUND), MI AND ON
Tuesday, September 4
Today’s journey will transit through the Soo Locks, also known as “Sault Locks,” linking the lower Great Lakes to Lake Superior. While docked, choose between a guided excursion to the Valley Camp Museum Ship, housed in an old freighter that details shipping life along the Great Lakes, or the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, which follows the history of aerial firefighting in Northern Ontario. Take in the Soo Locks from a viewing platform and learn about their four parallel Locks: MacArthur, Poe, Davis, and Sabin, at the Visitor’s Center.
LITTLE CURRENT, MANITOULIN ISLAND, ON
Wednesday, September 5
Start the morning gazing out on the rugged, coastal landscape while sailing through Georgian Bay, sometimes referred to as the sixth Great Lake, en-route to Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island. Visit the coastal village of Little Current and learn about the Ojibwe Tribe. Immerse yourself in the Ojibwe culture by learning about their language, the building of birch bark canoes, the creation of dreamcatchers, and the historic use of pictographic birch bark scrolls.
SCENIC SAILING OF LAKE HURON
Thursday, September 6
Spend the day sailing on Lake Huron, the second largest of the Great Lakes with a surface area of 23,000 square miles. Along with the other Great Lakes, Lake Huron was formed at the end of the last ice age when the glaciers retreated. It hosts 30,000 islands and has more shoreline than any of the other Great Lakes. Today’s scenic tour of Lake Huron ends with a gourmet dinner in the ship’s dining room.
Friday, September 7
Sail into Lake Erie to dock in Detroit—a vibrant city on the verge of a triumphant comeback. Enjoy a private guided tour of the expansive the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, highlighting pivotal moments in our country’s history. Also see the significant collections housed at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), considered among the top museums in the United States.
Saturday, September 8
Arrive in Cleveland, Ohio, home to a rich cultural legacy founded on the wealth of steel and oil barons. A morning exploration includes a visit to the West Side Market, the city’s oldest public market dating back to 1840; the Lake View Cemetery, home to the James A. Garfield Memorial; and the well-reputed Cleveland Museum of Art. In the afternoon, visit the world-famous Rock & Roll Hall of Fame designed by I.M. Pei and featuring a vast collection of stories, memorabilia and artifacts from the genre’s greatest legends.
PORT COLBORNE/NIAGRA FALLS/PORT WELLER, ON
Sunday, September 9
Spend a leisurely morning relaxing aboard Victory I before disembarking at Port Colborne on the southern end of the Welland Canal, which connects the interior Great Lakes to the Atlantic. As Victory I transits the locks, settle in for a breathtaking drive through Niagara Wine Region to one of North America’s most spectacular natural wonders – Niagara Falls. Hop aboard the famous Hornblower “Voyage to the Falls” for an exciting cruise into the misty spray of Horseshoe Falls. Return to shore for a scenic drive along Niagara Parkway to a charming local restaurant followed by a tasting at a local winery before rejoining the ship at Port Weller.
Monday, September 10
Our program concludes this morning in Toronto. Disembark in Toronto and transfer independently for flights home.