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Great Lakes & Waterfronts: Chicago to Toronto - 2023

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
  • ocean explorer exterior flowers
  • $621
  • 14
  • 21
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14 DAYS FROM $8,699
FREE Solo Space
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Up to FREE Business Class. Save up to $1,998 per couple with FREE air on select departures.
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A voyage through America's five Great Lakes awaits you! On this 14-day journey, uncover innovative cities while enjoying plenty of time to admire the natural beauty of 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 has transformed 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 21 included features and Cultural Discoveries, you'll experience some of North America’s best lakeside cities, regional cuisine, and indigenous history all in one unforgettable journey with Vantage.

Chicago to Toronto

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DAY 1:

Fly to Chicago

Arrive in Illinois for the first leg of your Great Lakes journey! 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. Chicago is also considered one of the country’s most walkable cities, so take some time to explore the city’s iconic skyscrapers, waterfront, and pristine parks.

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, see Chicago from the water on an architectural tour. There are more than 50 buildings that line the Chicago River, which celebrate how this metropolis has thrived over the past century to become one of the world’s largest cities. Enjoy a classic lunch of deep-dish pizza, one of the city's iconic dishes.

Later, you'll embark the sleek Ocean Explorer in Milwaukee, a two-hour drive away, to prepare for your exciting Great Lakes journey. 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.

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.

Included Features:
  • Narrated horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island
  • Tour Fort Mackinac
Cultural Discoveries:
  • Buffet lunch at the historic Grand Hotel
  • Lecture by onboard historian

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 Feature:

  • 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

Scenic Sailing:

  • Cruise through Georgian Bay - part of a UNESCO biosphere

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 an included lunch 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:

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

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. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day panoramic tour of Toronto

Included meals:


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.

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 Leading Competitor Vantage Advantage
Journey Great Lakes & Waterfronts: Chicago to Toronto Cruising the Great Lakes: Chicago to Toronto
Greatest value and most comprehensive features compared to our competitors!
 Departure Comparison Jul-Aug Sep
Per Diem $621 $791
Included Tours and Special Features 21 included features and Cultural Discoveries - a value of $2,250
All private shore excursions.

More included tours and cultural experiences offered!
1 UNESCO World Heritage Site: Georgian Bay   Not specified on webpage
 Complimentary services of a Vantage Deluxe Concierge to assist with all your personal requests before and during your adventure  
 Vessel Size Our ocean discovery vessel, the m/s Ocean Explorer has 15 solo cabins (11 for expedition cruises) and 15 triple-occupancy cabins each, with a maximum capacity of under 150 passengers on each sailing.    Our ships are smaller, more intimate, and have an industry-leading number of solo-ready cabins, as well as a fantastic crew-to-passenger ratio. 
 Accommodations in hotels On each journey that we offer with Vantage, your hotel accommodations will be included in the total price of your cruise.     We choose all of our partner hotels with comfort and luxury in mind, and will let you know ahead of time which hotel you’ll be staying in at each port.
 Cruise-Only Price* $8,699  $9,490 Greatest value and most comprehensive features compared to our competitors! 
 # of Days  14 12
Meals 34 meals: 13 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 11 dinners, with complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks during dinner on board included with meals on board)
28 meals The MOST included meals
Single Travelers Free Singles on every departure - Save up to $12,699!*
Special offers on select departures and cabin categories.
The leader in solo travel - best value in the industry.
Extend Your Trip
Chicago 3 days from $1,299 ($433 per day)
Toronto 3 days from $799 ($266 per day)
Overnight hotel stays in embarkation/disembarkation cities available at additional cost.
Extend your journey and get more value for your dollar.
 Air Promotion FREE AIR on all 2023 departures**
International and internal airfares NOT included.
Best airfare and exclusive air upgrades. 
 Up to Free Business Class Airfare Upgrade on select cabins*
 Third Passenger Third person cruises for FREE on ALL departures. Triple-occupancy available on select cabins.    
10 Ways to Save *Referral Rewards [$200 per referred traveler after 2 referrals]

*Buy direct & save [savings for the traveler]

*SmartPay [pay in full 12 months in advance to save 10%]

*Preferred Traveler Rewards [earn 5% of purchase price toward future trips]

Vantage offers the best value in Deluxe travel and the most ways to save.

Comparison date as of 9/29/22
* Subject to availability
** Not including $120 transfer fee
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