Most cruises take place aboard huge, luxury liners and sail across mighty oceans and salty seas. However, if you’d like to try something a little bit different you may want to consider a trip from Toronto, Canada to New York City or vice versa, down the quiet and quaint Erie Canal.
The ships that make this lovely journey belong to the Blount line and are the 96-passenger Grande Caribe and its sister ship the Grande Mariner. These ships are equipped with retractable pilothouses which allow them to pass under the low bridges along the picturesque cruise.
(photo credit: nostri-imago)
The first trip took place in the summer of 2011 when the Grande Mariner, at 184 feet long, sailed from Toronto to New York City via the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, Lake Ontario and the Hudson River. The cruises take 10 days to complete and there are three of them scheduled for the summer of 2012.
The ships feature 48 cabins and the trip is quite casual. There’s no need to wear your Sunday best for dinner and it’s easy to get to know the fellow passengers. In addition, passengers are invited to take their own alcohol with them. However, there is a small bar onboard with soft drinks, juices and other mixers and the first and last night of the cruise features wine with dinner and a complimentary open bar.
The multi-purpose lounges of the ships provide excellent panoramic views and are ideal locations for lectures, workshops, and onboard entertainment. The cabins are divided into four different categories and range in size between 90 and 114 square feet. They all come decorated in a nautical theme and have storage room, a bathroom and shower.
The ships don’t have elevators, but stair lifts can be used to get from deck to deck. The top deck is quite popular as you can relax in sun chairs and watch the world go by. When it comes time to eat, the dining room features open seating and the kitchen can accommodate special requests. Along the way, the cruise stops at four Canadian and six American ports. Along the way, you’ll witness a lot of natural beauty, rich wildlife, cottages, lighthouses, yacht houses, and a castle.
Passengers are treated to history lessons along the way via lectures and videos. These are used to teach passengers about the culture, wildlife, and history of the day’s destinations. One of the stops is the famous Niagara Falls, where passengers can tour the nearby vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake. There’s also a bus tour of historic Kingston, Ontario where you can visit Fort Henry and take a hauntedwalking tour of the city.
When stopping in Troy, New York, you can enjoy another guided historic walk and visit St. Paul’sEpiscopal Church. In Ogdensburg, New York, there’s a trip to the Remington Art Museum. The scenery on the Hudson River past West Point is quite spectacular and when docking in New York City you’ll be able to spend a night onboard the ship while it’s docked close to the Chelsea Market.
The ships are operated by Blount Cruises and the dates of the 2012 trips are June 10 from Toronto and June 21 and July 25 from New York. The cabins are for double occupancy and the shore excursions are optional.