by Terence Baker | April 01, 2005

A Great Lakes Cruise Co. vessel

Gliding by: A Great Lakes Cruise Co. vessel

Cruise enthusiasts seeking a new experience: Look due north.  Great Lakes Cruise Co. (888-891-0203; offers luxury cruising on the Great Lakes and other North American waterways. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company has five vessels offering a range of 32 to
205 cabins and departing from unlikely home ports such as Buffalo (N.Y.), Chicago and Québec City. 
    The Great Lakes fell out of favor as a cruise destination in the 1940s, says company president Chris Conlin, due to the increase in automobile vacations and, later, a lack of small ships able to ply the lakes. But Great Lakes Cruise Co. aims to change all that.
    Cruise lengths run anywhere from three to 15 days. Itineraries include the Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Thousand Islands, and “Routes of the Traders and Explorers.” One sailing skirts by the majestic Niagara Falls.
    While the cruise line operates  between June and October, the vessels are not dry-docked in the winter they sail to other parts of the world under the auspices of other companies.
    The company also arranges pre- and post-accommodations, a wide variety of shore excursions, and private cocktail parties and receptions. Groups can buy out the smaller boats in the fleet in their entirety, though due to the growing popularity of the cruises, planners are advised to book well in advance.