Great Lakes & Waterfronts: Chicago to Toronto - 2022

Chicago • 9-night Great Lakes small ship cruise with Lake Michigan, Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Manitoulin Island, Lake Huron, Detroit, Cleveland, Niagara Falls • Toronto
  • Small Ship Ocean Cruise from Chicago to Toronto | Great Lakes & Waterfronts: Chicago to Toronto
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A voyage through America's five Great Lakes awaits you! On this 14-day journey, follow urban allure to innovative cities while taking plenty of time to admire nature’s beauty enveloping the gorgeous islands and bodies of water straddling the U.S. and Canada.

Great Lakes & Waterfronts: Chicago to Toronto offers a balance of past and present, beginning with a tour in the Windy City to get your fill of deep-dish pizza, architectural wonders, and fine art. Continue your journey with days cruising Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and more, exploring islands and indigenous culture. Plus, discover rock-and-roll Cleveland and see how Detroit is a phoenix rising above the ashes into a brand-new, bustling city. Your journey concludes with some time in diverse Toronto. Thanks to the small size of your ship, in many ports we’ll be able to dock right onshore, giving you easy access to your destination. This is almost exclusively how you will embark and disembark throughout most of your journey. However, please note that other ports may require anchoring offshore and tendering inland, which will require a certain level of agility.

You'll have the chance to enjoy all of these incredible highlights while spending 9 nights aboard the 5-star Ocean Explorer, outfitted with all the latest amenities and plenty of small-ship charm. Attend fascinating onboard lectures by our Resident Lecturer, and dine on fine cuisine while taking in panoramic views of your surroundings.

With 20 included features and Cultural Discoveries, embrace the opportunity to experience some of North America’s best lakeside cities, regional cuisine, and indigenous history all in one journey.

Chicago to Toronto

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DAY 1:

Fly to Chicago

Arrive in Illinois for the first leg of your Great Lakes adventure! If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure, with time to explore your new surroundings. Later, join in on a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers.

Included meals:


DAY 2:

Tour the highlights of Chicago

We’ll take a longer route from our hotel through the city on a half-day panoramic tour of this cultural capital. Then, enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. You’ll have the afternoon free to catch some more of the Windy City’s highlights on your own.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day panoramic tour of Chicago

Included meals:


DAY 3:

Take an architectural boat tour of Chicago and embark the Ocean Explorer

Today will bring a new nautical adventure, as you see Chicago from the water on an architectural tour. More than 50 buildings line the Chicago River, a testament to how this metropolis has thrived over the past century to become one of the world’s largest cities.

You’ll enjoy a tasty and authentic deep-dish pizza lunch before boarding your private motorcoach to Milwaukee. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery as you head to the port of Milwaukee, where the Ocean Explorer awaits your arrival.

Following embarkation, you’ll have time to explore your beautiful 5-star vessel before joining your fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing. Dinner this evening will be served on board.

Included Feature:

  • Architectural Boat Tour of Chicago

Cultural Discovery:

  • Deep dish pizza lunch

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 4:

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.

Included Feature:

  • Scenic cruising day on Lake Michigan

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 5:

Step back in time on car-free Mackinac Island

Explore the popular retreat of Mackinac Island today. With its Revolutionary-era heritage and car-free streets, arriving on the island feels like a true step back in time! Revel in the feel of simpler times with a horse-drawn carriage ride through town. We’ll anchor just offshore and tender into Mackinac Island. Your city tour includes a stop at 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. Then, you'll lunch at the historic Grand Hotel, which features the longest porch in the world and has hosted a roster of illustrious guests, including several U.S. presidents, Thomas Edison, and even Mark Twain. Next, embark on a Fort Mackinac tour that features a cannon and rifle firing event!

Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the village on your own. Before dinner this evening, enjoy an onboard lecture by the Grand Hotel Historian.

Included Features:
  • Narrated horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island
  • Tour Fort Mackinac
Cultural Discovery:
  • Buffet lunch at the historic Grand Hotel

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 6:

Choose your own adventure in Sault Ste. Marie

Today, we’ll transit the Soo Locks from Lake Huron toward Lake Superior at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Located at the mouth of the St. Mary's River, these four parallel locks — MacArthur (constructed in 1943), Poe (1895), Davis (1914), and Sabin (1919) — pass an impressive 10,000 ships each year.

After docking, you’ll have your choice of adventures and attractions on the U.S. side of the locks, including the  Valley Camp Museum Ship and Soo Locks Visitors platform or the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site.

Included Features:

  • Transit the Soo Locks from Lake Huron into Lake Superior
  • Choice of tours in Sault Ste. Marie: Visit the Valley Camp Museum Ship and Soo Locks Visitors platform or the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site

Please note: The locks can be congested and it is not guaranteed the ship's passage thru Soo Locks to Lake Superior, in the rare even this happens, we will do our best for those interested to take a ferry to go across.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 7:

Encounter Ojibwe tradition and a powwow on Manitoulin Island

Keep your cameras ready as we cruise through the rugged beauty of UNESCO-listed Georgian Bay, sometimes called the sixth Great Lake. We’ll anchor just offshore and tender into our destination of Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island and home of the Ojibwe tribe. With native and non-native communities coexisting like nowhere else on the continent, Manitoulin has a history as colorful and diverse as any in Canada. Docking at Little Current, you’ll explore the area’s rich native and nautical history, and discover how the beliefs and customs of the Ojibwe intertwine with Catholicism during a visit to the Immaculate Conception Church.

Included Feature:

  • Explore Manitoulin Island and visit the Immaculate Conception Church

Cultural Discovery:

  • Experience a traditional smudging ceremony and powwow at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 8:

Spend a day on Lake Huron

Spend the day marveling at incredible views of Lake Huron. The second largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Huron features more 30,000 islands and boasts more shoreline than any of the other Great Lakes. Head to the sun deck with a cocktail and a good book, or with a good camera for some excellent photo opportunities.

Included Feature:
  • Scenic cruising around Lake Huron

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 9:

Discover Detroit: From the Henry Ford Museum to the Institute of the Arts

Sailing from Lake Erie to Lake Huron, we’ll find ourselves in Detroit, Michigan. Peruse artifacts from American history during a self-guided tour of the Henry Ford Museum, home to 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 Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated. After lunch included at the museum, visit the Detroit Institute of Arts, featuring one of the most renowned art collections in the country. Some of the museum’s notable holdings include Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals and Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait — the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum collection. This evening, enjoy dinner and a Motown performance back on the ship as we set sail for Lake Huron.

Included Features:

  • Tour the Detroit Institute of Arts
  • Peruse artifacts from American history during a guided tour of the Henry Ford Museum

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 10:

Tour Cleveland’s iconic sites, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Embark on a city tour of Cleveland, nestled along the banks of Lake Erie. Depending on the day of the week, our stops may include the stately Museum of Art, the Tiffany-designed Wade Chapel at Lakeview Cemetery, and the bustling West Side Market, where hundreds of vendors hawk everything from fresh seafood to flowers. You're welcome to spend additional time at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. You'll also have the opportunity to visit the iconic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, spanning generations of incredible music history displayed in interactive, audibly pleasing exhibits.

Included Features:

  • Half-day trolley tour of Cleveland
  • Visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 11:

Sail into the mists of Niagara Falls and visit a local winery

Excitement prevails today as we disembark in Port Colborne on the southern end of the Welland Canal and drive along the Niagara River for dramatic views of Horseshoe Falls. Then, you’ll board the iconic Hornblower “Voyage to the Falls” for a cruise past the American and Bridal Veil Falls before heading into the misty spray of Niagara’s thunderous Horseshoe.

Back on shore, we’ll drive along picturesque Niagara Parkway, spotting famed Niagara sights including the Floral Clock and the Whirlpool Rapids.

Included Feature:

  • Embark on a Hornblower “Voyage of the Falls” cruise to Horseshoe Falls

Cultural Discovery:

  • Visit a local winery for wine tasting
Please note: Timing and docking may vary due to ship's transit time through canal.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 12:

Panoramic Toronto tour and disembark the ship

After breakfast, disembark the Ocean Explorer and set off on a half-day panoramic tour of Toronto. Drive by Toronto City Hall, the Eaton Center, Hockey Hall of Fame, and more, before visiting the pedestrian-only Distillery Historic District. We'll also enjoy the stunning city views from the CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere and one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. You'll have lunch before checking into your hotel.  Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day panoramic tour of Toronto

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

DAY 13:

Explore Toronto's gems on your own

Maximize your Toronto time with a day at leisure to explore this city however you wish. Browse the exhibits at the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Royal Ontario Museum, taste your way through the famous St. Lawrence Market, or enjoy waterfront views from the Harbourfront Centre. Lunch and dinner are on your own — and this diverse city offers a gamut of memorable dining experiences.


Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 14:

Return home from Toronto, or stay longer

After breakfast at the hotel this morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, stay a few days longer on an optional extension to discover more of Toronto's gems.

Included meals:


Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.

Contact Vantage

CALL 1-800-322-6677

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Vantage Ponant Vantage Advantage
Journey Great Lakes & Waterfronts: Chicago to Toronto A Voyage along the Great Lakes – with Smithsonian Journeys
Cruise-Only Price* $8,499 $6,450
# of Days 14 8
Per Diem $607 $806 Greatest value and most comprehensive features when compared to our competitors!
Port Charges included Yes
Cabin Upgrades $400-$1,000 stateroom increments; $4,800 to Deluxe Suite $9,500 to Owner's Suite $300-$600 increments; $2,700 to Deluxe Suite; $13,300 to Owner's Suite Upgrade to more for less with Vantage!
Cabin Occupancies Single/Double; add a third guest to a stateroom reservation to save up to 75%

Best value for all travelers -- including both solo and third guests!
Included Tours and Special Features 21 included features and Cultural Discoveries

Visit 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site: Georgian Bay

The services of a Cruise Director, plus shipboard commentary, regional experts, and private motorcoach for excursions 

10 Included Tours

A program of onboard enrichment provided by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts – American Maritime Historian Frederick Stonehouse and Geologist Kirt Kempter
More included tours and cultural experiences offered!
Meals 34 meals: 13 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 11 dinners, with complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks during dinner on board
20 meals The MOST included meals
Single Travelers The leader in solo travel - the only small ship operator to offer a landmark 15 solo dedicated solo cabins on board - with limited and capacity controlled FREE Single Supplements
100% Single Supplement The leader in solo travel - best value in the industry.
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Chicago, Illinois
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Toronto, Canada
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Departure Comparison 5/18/22 9/18/2022

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