Great Lakes cruises call on major metropolitan cities in Canada and the United States. Milwaukee, Montreal and Quebec City are the biggest ports of call, each with its unique museums and bustling historic quarters. As your cruise travels the canals and far shores of the lakes, you'll also dock in small towns. Stroll among the historic buildings on quaint and car-free Mackinac Island, Mich.; watch for lonesome lighthouses among the islands and rocky coves of Georgian Bay; and visit glass blowers, basket weavers and other artisans in villages up and down the Erie Canal. Cruises on Lake Ontario typically include an optional excursion to Niagara Falls and a mini-cruise on the Maid of the Mist into the spray of the thundering waterfall.
Day and overnight cruises
In Chicago, sail Lake Michigan aboard the tall ship Windy. In Toronto, board a Great Lakes Schooner vessel for an afternoon on Lake Ontario. Toronto ferries also run to Centre Island Park, with walking paths, lakeshore picnic spots, and views of the skyline and the endless blue of the lake. In Milwaukee, explore Lake Michigan by day with Milwaukee Boat Line. In Tobermory, on the northern tip of Bruce Peninsula on the Canadian side of Lake Huron, cruises and ferries depart from Little Tub Harbour. The Blue Heron Company cruises to islands and shipwrecks in the clear turquoise shallows of Georgian Bay. From spring to fall, the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry runs to Manitoulin, the world's largest island in freshwater. On Lake Superior, cruise around Grand Island National Recreation Area, shipwreck-spotting along the way, with Shipwreck Tours. Many overnight trips with St. Lawrence Cruise Lines start in Kingston, Ontario, at the source of the St. Lawrence River on Lake Ontario. Cruises weave through the Thousand Islands Archipelago up to Montreal and Ottawa or Quebec City.