Set sail on an unforgettable small ship voyage through all five of the Great Lakes. History, nature, and stunning scenery await you as we navigate some of America’s most picturesque and iconic waterways. From a thrilling visit to Niagara Falls to a tour of Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum, each day of the itinerary is filled with revelations. Go ashore on Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island, and attend a traditional ceremony with the indigenous Ojibwe people. Step back in time during a horse-drawn carriage ride on car-free Mackinac Island. Discover what makes the Great Lakes so great on a one-of-a-kind North American cruise.
Arrive in Toronto, Canada
Your Great Lakes adventure begins when you arrive in Toronto, Ontario. Your afternoon and evening are at leisure, with time to explore your new surroundings.
Explore the gems of Toronto on your own
Take time to explore Toronto at your own pace with a day of leisure. Browse the exhibits at the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Royal Ontario Museum, taste your way through the famous St. Lawrence market, or enjoy stunning city views from the CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere and one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.
A city tour of Toronto, then embarkation
After breakfast, we'll check out of the hotel and embark on a panoramic tour of Toronto. Be sure to admire the city skyline before embarking on your Great Lakes cruise ship this afternoon. Throughout your voyage, you'll enjoy a series of illuminating presentations from our onboard historian designed to enhance your discoveries. After settling into your cabin, enjoy a Welcome Dinner tonight with your fellow travelers.
Sail into the mists of Niagara Falls and visit a family-owned winery
Today the ship arrives at Port Weller on the northern end of the Welland Canal. The original Welland Canal was opened in 1829 and was extended to reach Lake Erie in 1833. The current canal was completed in 1932 and boasts eight locks. As the M/V Victory I awaits its turn to transit the locks, we’ll disembark and drive along the rim for dramatic views of Horseshoe Falls before boarding the famous Hornblower “Voyage of the Falls,” where we'll cruise past the American and Bridal Veil Falls before heading into the misty spray of thunderous Horseshoe.
Back on shore, we’ll drive along scenic Niagara Parkway, spotting iconic Niagara sights such as the Floral Clock and the Whirlpool Rapids. Cultural Discovery and Unforgettable Moment: Our destination this afternoon is the lovely Chateau des Charmes, a state-of-the-art family-owned winery. We’ll tour these stunning grounds before enjoying a special regional wine tasting with lunch. Then, it's on to the charming 19th century town of Niagara-on-the-Lake to peruse the various shops, gardens, and galleries before rejoining the ship at Port Colborne this evening.
Tour Cleveland’s iconic sites
Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is one of Ohio's largest cities. We'll board Cleveland’s famous trolleys for a charming tour, the perfect way to get an in-depth look at the city. Stops include the stately Museum of Art, the Tiffany-designed Wade Chapel at Lakeview Cemetery, and the bustling West Side Market, where you’ll find hundreds of vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to beautiful flowers. Cultural Discovery: After returning to the ship for lunch, you’ll have chance to discover Cleveland’s iconic Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame, where you'll take a colorful tour through music history.
Please note: Some groups will experience today’s itinerary in reverse order, however, both groups will enjoy the same number of features.
From the history of the Henry Ford Museum to the masterpieces in the Detroit Institute of the Arts
Sailing from Lake Erie to Lake Huron, the M/V Victory I will dock in Detroit, Michigan. Here, we’ll visit the Henry Ford Museum, home to an incredible collection of American history. We'll see highlights such as the limousine that carried President John F. Kennedy on that fateful day in Texas, the bus in which Rosa Parks stood her ground and sparked the Civil Rights Movement, and the chair from Ford's Theatre in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was shot. Our next stop is the Detroit Institute of Arts, home to one of the top art collections in the U.S. Among its notable acquisitions are Mexican artist Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco cycle, which Rivera considered his most successful work, and Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum collection. The museum also houses a fascinatingly diverse collection of African, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, and Islamic art in addition to its Modern and Contemporary works. After our tour, we’ll return to the ship for dinner and set sail for Lake Huron.
Enjoy scenic sailing along Lake Huron
Spend the day enjoying incredible views of Lake Huron. The second-largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Huron boasts a surface area of 23,000 square miles. Like the other Great Lakes, it was formed at the end of the last Ice Age as the glaciers retreated. With over 30,000 islands, Lake Huron has more shoreline than any of the other Great Lakes.
Cultural discoveries await in Manitoulin Island’s Little Current
Keep your cameras at the ready as we cruise through the rugged beauty of Georgian Bay, sometimes called the sixth Great Lake. Our destination is Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island and home of the Ojibwe people, part of the First Nation of Anishinaabe. With native and non-native communities coexisting like nowhere else on the continent, Manitoulin has a history as colorful and diverse as any in Canada. Docking at Little Current, you’ll explore the area’s rich native and nautical history. Discover how the beliefs and customs of the Ojibwe intertwine with those of the Catholic Church during a visit to the Immaculate Conception Church. Cultural Discovery: At the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, you’ll unveil Ojibwe tradition intricacies as you attend a smudging ceremony and powwow, as well as tour the foundation’s unique museum and art gallery. Back in Little Current, you’ll have the option to return to the ship or choose to stay in town for further exploration.
Your choice of adventures in Sault Ste. Marie
Today, we’ll transit the Soo Locks from Lake Huron into Lake Superior at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Located at the mouth of the St. Mary's River, these four parallel locks — MacArthur (constructed in 1943), Poe (1895), Davis (1914), and Sabin (1919) — pass an impressive average of 10,000 ships each year.
Our ship will dock on the Canadian side of the river at Roberta Bondar Place, named for Canada’s first female astronaut, where you’ll have your choice of adventures visiting attractions on either side of the locks. Explore the lifestyle and heritage of sailors with a visit to the unique Valley Camp Museum Ship followed by a stop on the Soo Locks viewing platform on the U.S. side, or engage in the region’s history as you tour the Bush Plane Museum and the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site on the Canadian side.
Step back in time with a visit to Revolutionary-era Mackinac Island
Explore the popular retreat of Mackinac Island today. With its Revolutionary-era heritage and car-free streets, arriving on the island feels like a true step back in time. Unforgettable Moment: Revel in the feel of simpler times with a horse-drawn carriage ride through town. Your city tour includes a stop at Fort Mackinac, which was constructed by the British in 1780, taken by the Americans in 1796, and reclaimed by the British at the start of the War of 1812. Cultural Discovery: Savor lunch at the historic Grand Hotel, which features the longest porch in the world and has hosted a roster of illustrious guests, including several U.S. presidents, Thomas Edison, and even Mark Twain.
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the village on your own. This evening, you're invited to a delightful cocktail hour in the ship's lounge, where a captivating presentation by the ship’s historian rounds out another delightful day.
Spend a relaxing day cruising lovely Lake Michigan
Delight in a relaxing day cruising Lake Michigan today. The only Great Lake located entirely within the United States, Lake Michigan has a surface area of more than 22,000 square miles, making it the fifth-largest lake in the world. In fact, the name Michigan is believed to come from the native Ojibwe word mishigami, which translates to “great water.” This evening, we'll gather for a Farewell Reception on board.
Disembark and tour the highlights of culturally rich Chicago
After breakfast on board, it's time to disembark the M/V Victory I in Chicago. On the way to our hotel, we'll take the scenic route and enjoy a panoramic tour of this distinctive city. After checking into the hotel this afternoon, the remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Explore Chicago at your own pace
Enjoy a day of leisure exploring one of America's most beloved cities: Chicago. Host to the busiest airport on the planet, Chicago is considered one of the most walkable cities in the United States. This city is rich in culture and character, from its famous comedy scene and gorgeous waterfront to its spread of public artworks and robust nightlife. Take some time to admire the city's iconic skyscrapers, wander its renowned museums, or explore its pristine parks.
Board a return flight home
After breakfast at the hotel this morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert. Vantage reserves the right to refuse compensation to any traveler due to itinerary changes not listed on our web site.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.