Thoughts on Cruising the Great Lakes

We recently returned from Cruising the Great Lakes: Chicago to Toronto. It was the first time Tauck offered this tour so we knew there would be some aspects of the trip that would need to be fine-tuned but there were other parts that ran very well.

Trip highlights for us were Mackinac Island, Detroit (though too short) and Niagara Falls. On Mackinac Island, we took the carriage ride, explored Fort Mackinac and had some time to wander the streets. Lunch at the Grand Hotel was excellent, but very crowded. In Detroit, we visited the Henry Ford Museum – it was an incredible museum and we could have spent much more time here but had to be back on the ship for lunch. At Niagara Falls, we rode on the boat near the falls and felt the spray from the falls – quite an experience!

For me, Traverse City was a disappointment. Everyone went to the same places, although the sequencing was different. We began by going to the Sleeping Bear Dunes – it was a long bus ride and we were only out of the bus for about 20 minutes. The local guide talked a lot about what we didn’t have time to see. We then went to the Music House Museum where we heard a presentation. We were near the back and could see little of what was being talked about - smaller groups might have helped. After lunch, we visited a winery. We were all at the winery at the same time, but there were stations for the tour/tasting and that worked well - it was the best part of the day.

Ideally, there might be an additional port of call on Lake Erie. Of the three (consecutive) days we spent on Lake Huron, Lake Erie and the Welland Canal, we were only off the ship for that half day in Detroit. Having said that, we enjoyed our time on the Welland Canal - traveling the canal and going through the locks was very interesting.

Overall, we enjoyed our trip. I like not having to pack/unpack so often when on a cruise, but the larger number of guests presents some challenges and makes it harder to get to know fellow travelers. There were five tour directors for about 160 guests. We were mostly with the same tour director, though this sometimes varied depending on the excursion we chose. Per usual, tour directors were excellent. We were asked to fill out an additional survey beyond the usual “hope and trust” form. I suspect there will be some changes that will strengthen the trip design for future guests to make it an even better trip.

Comments

  • Hello CVC,

    Thank you so much for your honest feedback and attention to detail. I am sharing your comments with out Tour Management team. We appreciate your patronage and will definitely use your feedback to enhance our cruises moving forward.

    Best,
    Tauck Emily

  • Dear cvc,

    I enjoyed reading your very insightful trip review. This trip is on our list of Tauck tours in the near future. Although we are seasoned Tauck travelers, we have never been on a small ship cruise and do not know what to expect as far as cabin comfort (I know this varies depending on the room size) and the quality of the on-board food. Any information you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Happy and safe travels!

  • cvccvc
    edited October 13

    We had a deluxe suite (the smallest of the suites) on Deck 3 - I would have preferred one on a higher deck, but this was the last one available. It offered more space than the staterooms. We were very comfortable in our cabin. The living area was one room but there was a couch with a coffee table. We also had a very nice walk-in closet (with more storage space than we actually needed). Bathrooms are small but adequate. There are certainly nice public spaces on the ship and we were often out of our cabin, but there are two days when you are at sea all day (Lake Huron and then again going through the Welland Canal) so we liked having the additional space for those times we wanted to be in our cabin. We occasionally went out on our balcony, but not very often. I will include a picture I took of the sitting area in our cabin - you also might want to check a website like Cruise Critic for more information on specific cabins.
    The food on board was generally good. There was always open seating. Breakfast is a buffet with additional menu items you can order. Ordering eggs from the menu vs. getting them from the buffet is the way to go. I think we only had lunch on board twice - it was also a buffet with lots of choices. At dinner, half of the main menu changed each night but the other half was the same - so you always had some "go-to" choices if you didn't like the other options. I unfortunately came home weighing almost five more pounds than when we started the trip - so guess that will tell you something about the quality of the food!

  • cvc,

    Thanks again for the information. The deluxe suite seems to mirror category 7 rooms on Tauck's riverboats, but having a private balcony on a small ship cruise sounds really nice.

    Happy travels!

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