Former Canadian Pacific Passenger Liner s.s. Keewatin Finally Returns to Her Former Home Port of Port McNicoll on Georgian Bay

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 25th June 2012

On Saturday, June 23, at 1:30 pm, the 105-year-old former Canadian Pacific Great Lakes passenger liner s.s. Keewatin arrived back at Port McNicoll, her home port between 1912 and 1965, for the first time since she was towed away to Douglas, Michigan, for use as a floating maritime museum in 1967.

Next week The Cruise Examiner will publish a photo essay taken during the last leg of the voyage from Mackinaw City to Port McNicoll. After  anchoring overnight at an island called the Giant’s Tomb on Thursday and Friday, she sailed into Port McNicoll on a glorious summer Saturday, welcomed by a fleet of hundreds of small craft.
.
Seen here leaving Mackinaw City and leaving the sunset behind on Monday, June 19, she averaged about 5.1 knots on her tow, often sneaking up on her lead tug Wendy Anne, seemingly anxious to get home again! She now lies once more at her former berth. Here are some of the results of that voyage:  Photo essay of the Keewatin‘s voyage from Mackinaw City to Port McNicoll.

.
NEXT WEEK’S STORY
                                                     (See previous columns)
Advertisements

New Expedition Company in the Costa Rica to Ecuador Range – Other Cruise News: One Ocean Plans Two Northwest Passage Transits This Summer – Keewatin Casts Off For Canada Tomorrow

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 18th June 2012

This week we report on Sea Voyager Expeditions, a new expedition company that will offer departures to Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Costa Rica. The ship they will be using is the 60-guest Sea Voyager, which once worked for Lindblad. Far from the tropics, in the Canadian Arctic, four ships will be offering transits of the Northwest Passage in 2013, but One Ocean Expeditions is planning to operate two such passages this summer between Kangerlussuaq and Coppermine, in the Canadian Arctic, with the Akademik Ioffe. And today The Cruise Examiner crosses the Atlantic to join the 105-year-old former Canadian Pacific passenger ship Keewatin for the last leg of her voyage back to her old base in Canada.


THIS WEEK’S STORY
                                          (See previous columns)

Former Canadian Pacific s.s. Keewatin, Last Surviving Edwardian Liner in the World, Sails on Tuesday For Her Old Home Port in Canada

This photo by “National Post” photographer Darren Calabrese shows the finish on this Clyde-built steamship.

From Kevin Griffin, managing director at The Cruise People in London: I have been posting recently on the subject of the s.s. Keewatin‘s voyage back to Canada and this week, at the invitation of former Keewatin crew member and project manager Eric Conroy, I will actually be joining this historic ship for the final leg of her homeward journey. Eric and I both started our careers as 17-year-old waiters on these ships, he on Keewatin and I on sister ship Assiniboia.

Conroy, who worked two summers on the Keewatin and wrote a book about it called “A Steak in the Drawer” (the title came from ordering an extra steak and putting it in a drawer for later consumption), has been in charge of this project. This involved purchasing the 3,856-ton vessel, the last surviving Canadian Pacific passenger ship and possibly the last surviving Edwardian liner in the world, and bringing her home to Canada. In November, the firm that engaged him, Skyline International Development Inc of Toronto, purchased the 105-year-old Clyde-built ship and after having dredged the harbor at Douglas, Michigan, where she had been used as a museum, at a cost of $1 million to release her, had her towed to Mackinaw City, where she has been waiting.  All of this has been made possible by Skyline International and its founder and president Gil Blutrich, whose vision has brought this about.

Photographer Darren Calabrese rolls up his sleeping bag after spending a night on board in Mackinaw City.

On Monday morning, I cross the Atlantic to join the ship as one of five riding crew, five sailors, a cook and a cameraman, for the final leg of her tow to the Georgian Bay port of Port McNicoll, her base for several decades. In Port McNicoll, the Keewatin will become the centrepiece of a new waterfront park and part of a new resort community being developed by Skyline International, which also owns the King Edward, Cosmopolitan and Pantages Hotels in Toronto and the Deerhurst and Horseshoe resorts in Muskoka and Barrie, Ontario. 

The subject of repatriating this 105-year-old cruise ship to Canada, brings to mind the cruising history of Canadian Pacific, whose Empresses, Duchesses and Princesses operated so many early cruises. Canadian Pacific, one of the early lines to go into cruising, offered a world cruise every year in the 1920s and 1930s, when the St Lawrence River was closed by ice, as well as cruises between Montreal and New York, to Bermuda, to Alaska, to the Mediterranean and to the West Indies, not to mention the Great Lakes. This, and crossing the Atlantic with Canadian Pacific as a four-year-old boy, was what got me into the shipping business and into cruising.

To know more about the this voyage go to Bringing the Keewatin Back to Canada and for photos see here:  Photo essay of the Keewatin‘s voyage from Mackinaw City to Port McNicoll. And for cruising in general please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Un-Cruise Adventures Purchases Sea Voyager Expeditions’s 64-guest Sea Voyager for Sea of Cortes and Central America Programs

Note: 05.03.13 – Vessel has now been purchased by Un-Cruise Adventures of Seattle, who will rename her Safari Voyager for their Sea of Cortes and Central America cruise programs.

New expedition cruise company Sea Voyager Expeditions Ltd of Nassau, has announced that it will operate to a new cruising area – with ten different itineraries through Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Guests will travel on the 1,195-ton expedition-style Sea Voyager, a ship that is perfect for exploring and has been completely renovated inside and out in the past year.  To avoid confusion, this is not the ship of the same name that is operated by  International Shipping Partners and was used in relief work in Haiti, but the one that was built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in 1982 and operated originally for American Cruise Lines and later for Lindblad Expeditions.

For further details please contact The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Cunard’s Three Queens Celebrate Diamond Jubilee – Other Cruise News: Carnival Corp Revives the Dominican Republic’s North Shore – Classic International Loses Founder / Charters Athena to Ambiente

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 11th June 2012

.
All three of Cunard’s Queens, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, visited Southampton together last Tuesday to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, in possibly the biggest such event outside London. On the same day, the line announced that it is looking for more first-timers and wants more UK agents to work with it. In four weeks time, it will be the turn of P&O Cruises, which will bring all seven of its ships to Southampton on Tuesday 3rd July to celebrate its 175th Anniversary. Elsewhere, Carnival Corp & PLC has announced a plan to revive cruising to the north shore of the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile from Lisbon comes news of the death of Classic International Cruises founder George Potamianos. The line has also announced the charter of Athena to Germany’s Ambiente Kreuzfahrten for a late summer season of five cruises in 2013.


THIS WEEK’S STORY
                                          (See previous columns)

Homebound Voyage of Former Canadian Pacific Steamship Keewatin From Mackinaw City Finishes at Port McNicoll Next Week: Scene at Mackinaw With Tug Wendy Anne by Richard Weiss

https://i2.wp.com/www.boatnerd.com/news/newsthumbsb/images-12-2/7.keewatin.6-6-12-riw1.jpg

A personal note from Kevin Griffin, managing director of The Cruise People Ltd in London, England:

I have a particular interest in the s.s. Keewatin as I was privileged at the age of 17 to land my first real job – as a waiter – on board her sister ship s.s. Assiniboia. This was during their last summer of passenger service and just before I entered university. The Keewatin and Assiniboia were built on the Clyde in 1907 and operated Canadian Pacific’s Great Lakes Steamship Service, sailing weekly from Port McNicoll, on Georgian Bay, to Sault Ste Marie and on to the Canadian Lakehead at Port Arthur and Fort William (which combined into Thunder Bay in 1970).

The pay was $173.58 per month but that was upped almost immediately to $240 once I was on board. Meals and berth were included and tips were an added bonus. Clothing requirements were “black shoes, white shirts, black bow tie, navy blue trousers and old clothing for work in port. Jackets are supplied and the navy trousers can be purchased at Del Hasting’s Men’s Wear in Midland.” The jackets were blue serge with brass buttons and were quite warm on a hot summer’s day at lunchtime!

The Keewatin sailed on Wednesdays and the Assiniboia on Saturdays and the two ships met at Sault Ste Marie every Sunday. The cost of such an “Inland Sea” cruise in those days was $90 per person in an inside cabin or $100 in an outside, and the fare included passage Port McNicoll-Fort William and return, berth and meals aboard ship and hotel room and meals in Fort William while the ship handled cargo. These cruises, which  were offered twice weekly, thus consisted of five nights, one of which was spent ashore.

When the boat train from Toronto came alongside at Port McNicoll at 3 pm, passengers boarded the ship, followed by the waiters carrying their luggage (and freshly laundered sheets, towels and uniforms from the Royal York Hotel laundry in Toronto) and she sailed promptly at 3:15 – just fifteen minutes later! At the Lakehead there were rail connections to and from the Pacific via Canadian Pacific’s famous Trans-Continental express “The Canadian.”

The next season, with the passenger service gone (although the Assiniboia still carried cargo for a while), I was given a ticket on “The Canadian” and assigned to Canadian Pacific’s British Columbia Coast Steamship Service, where I joined Princess Patricia, cruising from Vancouver to Alaska. She was built in the same shipyard as Assiniboia and Keewatin and gave her name to Princess Cruises when she was chartered to Stan McDonald of Seattle for two winters cruising from Los Angeles to Mexico. We had to remove all the Mexican decorations in preparation for her next Alaska season. One difference on the West Coast was that the waiters wore cooler white jackets for lunch.

Having sailed as a four-year-old from Liverpool to Montreal in Canadian Pacific’s second Empress of Canada, and later worked for the company in Montreal, I had not only immigrated to Canada with them, but had also managed to collect three employee numbers – in Port McNicoll, Vancouver and Montreal! Meanwhile I crossed the Atlantic again on the third Empress of Canada in 1970. As the Mardi Gras two years later, she became the start of Carnival Cruise Lines and right up until today’s Carnival Breeze, every Carnival ship has had an “Empress Deck.”

Now, I am privileged once again by being one of only a few to be invited to join the final leg of  the tow of Canadian Pacific’s last surviving passenger ship, s.s. Keewatin, from Mackinaw City back to her home port of Port McNicoll. There she is due to arrive at about 1:30 pm on June 23, a hundred years to the day after her first passenger departure from the then-new port, which opened in 1912. Under the auspices of Skyline International Development Inc of Toronto, the Keewatin is to become the centrepiece of a new waterfront park in the newly-revived resort community of Port McNicoll.

Here now are some of the results of that voyage:  Photo essay of the Keewatin‘s voyage from Mackinaw City to Port McNicoll.

For details of present-day Great Lakes cruising please feel free to contact The Cruise People Ltd on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. We are still very much involved with the Great Lakes, as general passenger agent for the Polish Steamship Company’s cargo-passenger service between Europe and the Great Lakes.

Great Video Shots of the Former Canadian Pacific Steamship Keewatin Being Towed Out of Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan, Last Week

From the lens of Roger Lelievre, publisher of the Great Lakes shipping guide “Know Your Ships,” this video positively brings the 105-year-old s.s. Keewatin alive again.

For details of present-day Great Lakes cruising please feel free to contact The Cruise People Ltd on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. We are still very much involved with the Great Lakes, as European representative for the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition and also as general passenger agent for the Polish Steamship Company’s cargo-passenger service between Europe and the Great Lakes.