With Two Ships, Victory Is Now The Largest Great Lakes Operator

THE CRUISE EXAMINER AT CYBERCRUISES.COM BY KEVIN GRIFFIN

The Cruise Examiner for 6th August 2018

VICTORY II, Montreal 31-07-2018, with enclosed Hot Rock Grill afte copyright Rene Beauchamp

The Victory II, seen last week near Montreal, has had her open air dining area in the stern glassed in

Miami-based Victory Cruise Lines, the most recent specialist in luxury cruises on the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River, today welcomed the inaugural voyage of its new vessel, the 202-berth Victory II, to Detroit. Not quite completed in 2001, when parent company American Classic Voyages went out of business, she was ordered as the Cape Cod Light, the second ship for Delta Queen Coastal Voyages.

Although the vessel was finally completed in 2004, she was not placed into passenger service, meaning that this cruise was in fact the ship’s first revenue passenger voyage.

In fourteen years since completion she has spent much of her time either laid up in fresh water or employed as an accommodation ship in UK and European waters. She was finally completed as a fully-fledged cruise ship this spring in Sweden. The most noticeable change to the ship is the glass enclosure that now surrounds the former Hot Rock Grill on her stern.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                    (See previous columns)

 

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Three Great Opportunities To Cruise The Great Lakes This Summer On The 210-passenger Saint Laurent, 10 Days From $4,199

Saint Laurent stateroom

Typical outside accommodations on the main deck of the 210-passenger m.v. Saint Laurent

Space is limited but there is still time to secure your place on a 10-night Great Lakes cruise on board the charming 4,954-ton 210-berth Saint Laurent this summer.

  • Sail into history with the first authentic Great Lakes voyages by classic passenger ship in decades, leaving right from Navy Pier in Chicago or from the Port of Montreal in the heart of that city.
  • A 9-night Great Lakes cruise on board a ship with nostalgic interiors and rich appointments.
  • Special on board events and shore excursions included in each port of call.
  • Elegantly casual dining and entertainment on board wth unlimited beverages, including beer, wine, spirits, cocktails, soft drinks, juices, coffee, tea and water.
  • Spectacular sightseeing through the Soo Locks, the St Lawrence Seaway, the Thousand Islands, the Welland Canal, as well as seeing Niagara Falls and Mackinac Island.
  • Departures from Chicago on July 14 and August 28 – from Montreal on July 5.
  • Fares from $4,199 per person in an inside cabin or $4,599 in an outside cabin plus $399 port charges
Haimark Great Lakes

July 14 & August 28 from Chicago, July 5 v.v. from Montreal

For a full copy of the flyer please click here: Cruise the Great Lakes

For further details and bookings please call The Cruise People Ltd in London, England, on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Plantours Cruises To Offer Two 16-night Great Lakes Cruises From Montreal and a Round Trip Montreal-New York Cruise in Autumn 2014

m s Hamburg

Plantours Cruises of Bremen have announced a revised season of cruises to be operated from Montreal in the autumn of 2014 that will include two 16-night cruises into the Great Lakes, a 16-night round trip cruise from Montreal to New York and back and a positioning cruise from Montreal to Nassau.

Plantours’ 400-guest ms Hamburg is no stranger to the region, having operated Great Lakes cruises between 1997 and 2011 as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Columbus.

The first two cruises, scheduled for September 24 and October 11, will tour the Great Lakes as far as Chicago, and the third, scheduled for October 27, will cruise Canada and New England as far as New York. These cruises will be followed by a 14-night voyage from Montreal to Nassau via St Lawrence and East Coast ports, departing Montreal November 12. Ports of call are laid out below for each cruise:

September 24-October 11, 2014: 16-night Great Lakes cruise from Montreal to Toronto, the Welland Canal/Niagara, Windsor, Tobermory, Little Current, Chicago, Milwaukee, Traverse City, Mackinac Island, Kingston and return to Montreal.
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October 11-27, 2014: 16-night Great Lakes cruise from Montreal to Toronto, the Welland Canal/Niagara, Windsor, Tobermory, Little Current, Chicago, Milwaukee, Traverse City, Mackinac Island, Kingston and return to Montreal.
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October 27-November 12, 2014: 16-night Canada/New England cruise from Montreal to Gaspé, Sydney, Boston, Cape Cod Canal, New York, Martha’s Vineyard, Halifax, Cape Eternity, Quebec and back to Montreal.
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November 12-26, 2014: 14-night cruise from Montreal to Nassau via Quebec, Halifax, Boston, New York, Charleston and Savannah.
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For further details please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk..
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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.

Latest Great Lakes Small Ship Advertisement for “World of Cruising”: Blount Small Ship Adventures and Travel Dynamics International

The Cruise Examiner for 18th July 2011: The UK’s Third Largest Cruise Retailer Goes Bust – Other News: Seattle: A New West Coast Cruise Centre – Detroit Opens Its New Cruise Terminal

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com
by Kevin Griffin

The UK’s Third Largest Cruise Retailer Goes Bust – Other News: Seattle: A New West Coast Cruise Centre – Detroit Opens Its New Cruise Terminal

Last week, Gill’s Cruise Centre, reportedly the third largest cruise retailer in the UK, ceased trading after burning its candle at both ends. Not only had it been rebating too much of its commission to “buy” bookings but it had also been overspending on a Central London call centre and on national advertising. We have a look at some of the reactions and revisit the failure of Cruise Control, the last major UK cruise retailer to go bankrupt, in 2005.

Photo of Grande Mariner at Detroit by Dan Janisse, The Windsor Star, 18th July 2011.

Elsewhere, while Los Angeles has been thought of as the US West Coast’s cruise centre ever since Princess Cruises opened in that city, now Seattle, with Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises, as well as newcomers Seabourn and Paul Gauguin and a bevy of small ship operators, puts up a good case for taking the lead. And with a first call  this weekend by Blount’s Grande Mariner, Detroit has now opened its new cruise terminal. There is talk of a new line handling twelve passenger embarkations and disembarkations (six turnarounds) there in 2012, with cruises to and from Chicago, Duluth and Quebec City.

THIS WEEK’S STORY

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Detroit Opens A New Cruise Terminal For Great Lakes Cruising

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Later this month, the Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority will open its new Public Dock and Terminal, to be called Port Detroit. This new $22 million facility will be available for use by cruise ships, visiting naval vessels, tall ships and perhaps even by a new ferry service to Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River in Canada. The last ferries disappeared with the opening of the present bridge.
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Part of a 5½-mile redevelopment of the whole Detroit waterfront, called River Walk, in addition to customs and border patrol facilities for the clearance of incoming cruise ships the 30,000-square foot Public Dock and Terminal will house new offices for the port authority.

The Grande Mariner, owned by Blount Small Ship Adventures, seen here in the Detroit River

Blount Small Ship Adventures will be the terminal’s first cruise customer, with its 96-berth Grande Mariner making two calls next month. Blount have introduced two new itineraries recently, between New York and Toronto and between Toronto and Georgian Bay. Another cruise line newcomer, Travel Dynamics International of New York, is planning six departures and six arrivals at Detroit between June and September of 2012 with their 138-guest US-flag Yorktown, handling a dozen passenger lists to and from Chicago, Duluth and Quebec City. The Yorktown (below) was last in the Great Lakes when she worked for Clipper Cruise Lines as the Yorktown Clipper .

And there will be others. The largest ship to cruise the Great Lakes in recent years has been Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 14,903-ton Columbus, which first came into the Great Lakes in 1997. In 2012, she will be taken over by Plantours & Partner of Bremen, to become their MS Hamburg and it is hoped that she will return to the Great Lakes under her new name in 2013. Two other operators from Europe have also been examining the Great Lakes as a new destination for them.
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To learn more about cruising in the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.