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Cruise the Great Lakes with Ponant

11-day luxury cruise from £7,525 pp incl. flights

Summary

Short description

The Great Lakes in luxury for the culturally curious

Highlights

  • A rare chance to cruise the Great Lakes in 5-star expedition style
  • Onboard enrichment program by world-class Smithsonian Journeys Experts
  • Port transfers and special Smithsonian Journeys shore excursions included
  • Cruise along the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Georgian Bay
  • Visit magnificent Niagara Falls and charming Mackinac Island

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Toronto
  • 1 Night Port Colborne
  • 1 Night Lake Erie
  • 1 Night Lake Huron
  • 1 Night Parry Sound
  • 1 Night Little Current
  • 1 Night Sault Ste. Marie
  • 1 Night Lake Michigan

About

Recommended for:
History & culture | Natural world | Ocean cruise

Set sail across the waters of the storied Great Lakes on a luxury all-inclusive expedition cruise. As one of Ponant's exclusive Smithsonian Journeys, you'll have access to onboard enrichment with Smithsonian Journey Experts along with shore excursions curated for the culturally curious. Your luxury expedition ship is environmentally friendly and features the celebrated Blue Eye, the multisensorial underwater lounge for which Ponant is famous. Cruise the waters of all five Great Lakes as you explore staggering natural beauty, geological curiosities, and unforgettable wildlife. Along with a couple of days to take in Toronto, you will also have the chance to visit iconic sites such as Niagara Falls and Mackinac Island, along with the jaw-dropping Georgian Bay and Manitoulin Island.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
UK to Toronto

Depart the UK and fly to Toronto. Upon arrival, you will be privately transferred to your five-star hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day relaxing after your long flight or exploring Toronto.

Stay: Toronto accommodation

Day 2
Toronto

Today you'll have a free day to enjoy Toronto. Explore at your own pace or ask our team of specialists for recommendations. Toronto – a fascinatingly diverse city – is Canada’s largest and the capital of the province of Ontario. Be sure to visit the iconic CN Tower for incredible views of the city, the tallest tower in the western hemisphere. Be sure to also pay a visit to the St Lawrence Market, reflecting the multicultural nature of this city, proving why many call it the ‘Global City.’ Elsewhere, the Distillery District is chock full of restaurants, cafes, theatres, boutiques, and art galleries; you can lose yourself in its romantic charm for hours at a time.

Stay: Toronto accommodation

Meals: B

Day 3
Ponant Le Champlain

Following breakfast, continue your Toronto explorations this morning, before being transferred to the port to board your Ponant ship – Le Dumont-d’Urville – this afternoon. With a maximum capacity of just 184 guests, Le Dumont-d’Urville is small, intimate and offers chic staterooms and spacious suites as well as plentiful ocean views. You'll be welcomed with boutique decor and a relaxed atmosphere on board, with wide-ranging windows throughout the ship’s many common areas. Depart Toronto early this evening, settling down for a welcome dinner at Panoramic Restaurant this evening.

Stay: Ponant Le Champlain

Meals: B D

Day 4
Port Colborne, Niagara Falls & Sailing Lake Erie

You'll dock this morning in Port Colborne, a small port city in southern Ontario. Port Colborne sits at the mouth of the Welland Canal, known for one of the longest locks in the world; its eighth lock measures 420 metres and has an observation footbridge. This port of call is also your access point to the famous Niagara Falls, where you will spend your morning. Its name means ‘water thunder’ in Amerindian language, and you’ll soon find out why—these falls are among the most powerful in the world.

Spend the rest of the day cruising Lake Erie, remarkable for its unique ecosystem. Spot fishermen enjoying the shallow fish-filled waters, along with migratory birds flocking to the lake’s banks.

Stay: Ponant Le Champlain

Meals: B L D

Day 5
Sailing through Detroit & St Claire river

Spend today onboard sailing the Detroit and St Claire rivers. The Detroit River links Lake Erie and Lake St Claire to Lake Huron, making it an important commercial waterway. As you sail, enjoy panoramic views of Detroit, the former ‘Motor City,’ which was once known as the jewel of the automotive industry and Motown music. Admire the Ambassador Bridge, which is over two kilometres long and carries 25% of American-Canadian trade. The St Clair River is the natural line of separation between the US and Canada. Used in the 18th century by French fur-traders, it was eventually used for the transport of lumber, iron ore, and copper from the Great Lakes into the Rust Belt cities. Make sure you pay a visit to the onboard Blue Eye underwater lounge, located within the ship's hull. Here you'll find a unique gathering space which will immerse you in the underwater world with two large portholes, mimicking a whale’s eye look out into the ocean.

Stay: Ponant Le Champlain

Meals: B L D

Day 6
Sailing Lake Huron & Parry Sound

Today, you'll arrive in Parry Sound where you'll immerse yourself in the exceptional UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, east of Georgian Bay. Take a relaxed cruise in Georgian Bay aboard the Island Queen and discover some of the ‘Thirty Thousand Islands’ that make up this freshwater archipelago, learning how ecologically varied they are. For something more active, take a 1.5-hour walking tour of Killbear Provincial Park, home to sandy beaches, rocky outcroppings, and green forests. Learn about shoreline ecosystems and Killbear’s gneiss rock, once buried under a mountain range similar in size to the Himalayas.

Later, sail Lake Huron, one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. From your ship, admire the wild beauty of the coastline of Manitoulin Island and the cliffs of the Bruce Peninsular.

Stay: Ponant Le Champlain

Meals: B L D

Day 7
Little Current

Your next stop is Little Current – the gateway to Manitoulin Island – which shelters the wild nature and is ideal for outdoor activities. Kayak the Kagawong River’s calm waters to spot beavers, muskrats, and waterfowl or opt to walk the riverside trail to Bridal Veil Falls for spectacular views. Stop at family-owned Chocolate Works for a hot drink and taste of Manitoulin Chocolate.

For a cultural experience, learn about the island’s indigenous peoples at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, observing traditional crafts. You’ll also witness a smudging ceremony (cleansing ritual) and ‘Powwow,’ a traditional ceremony of dance, drumming, and song. Hike the Cup and Saucer Trail for panoramic views from 230-foot-high lookout points to see lakes and forests below. Afterwards, enjoy a selection of Canadian wine, beers, and cheeses, along with locally smoked rainbow trout and whitefish.

Stay: Ponant Le Champlain


Meals: B L D

Day 8
Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Start at the Upper Falls of the Tahquamenon Falls to view rushing waters, and—if you dare—walk 94 steps down to the brink. At the Lower Falls, walk the forested boardwalk to a viewing platform close enough to feel the mist. Visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum for historical accounts and climb the lighthouse or stroll the shoreline.

Alternatively, experience the engineering marvel of the Soo Locks through exhibits chronicling their construction and then visit the Valley Camp Museum Ship for a fascinating look onboard. After lunch, board your chartered Soo Locks boat to experience the Locks for yourself as you are raised 21 feet to enter Lake Superior. 

Stay: Ponant Le Champlain

Meals: B L D

Day 9
Mackinac Island & Sailing Lake Michigan

Journey through time on Mackinac Island, close to the banks of Lake Huron. With a history connecting the area to Amerindians, the French, and the British, Victorian-style buildings and horse-drawn carriages will take you back to the days of yore. Fort Mackinac reveals the history of conflicts in the area, which was once a fur trade centre. The island’s scenery includes fine sandy beaches and one of the oldest National Parks in the US.

Spend the rest of your last day onboard sailing Lake Michigan, the largest body of freshwater in the US. Take in autumnal forests, dramatic cliffs, and golden beaches as you spend your last afternoon and evening enjoying your Ponant cruise.

Stay: Ponant Le Champlain

Meals: B L D

Days 10-11
Depart for UK

You will arrive in Milwaukee early this morning. After disembarkation, you will be privately transferred to the airport for your overnight flight back home to the UK.

Meals: B

Map

Pricing

Any element of this cruise can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Prices

Accommodation rating: Deluxe

11-day luxury cruise
from £7,525 pp incl. flights

Departure:

Price from
Book by: 31 May 2024

Includes:

  • Scheduled flights from the UK to Toronto and back from Milwaukee in economy class (upgrades available)
  • 2-nights 5-star hotel Toronto with private transfers from airport to hotel and hotel to ship
  • 7-night Ponant cruise aboard Le Champlain
  • All meals onboard with fine-dining as standard
  • Open bar policy with unlimited complimentary drinks*
  • A program of onboard enrichment provided by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts
  • One included shore excursion in each port of call
  • Transfer from the ship to the airport in Milwaukee after your cruise

Price varies by departure date and stateroom availability - please call for details 

Terms & Conditions: Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.  

* excludes some premium alcoholic drinks 

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