Travelling with Small Ship Cruises Across Ontario
Travelling with Small Ship Cruises Across Ontario

Travelling with Small Ship Cruises Across Ontario

I was born and raised on one of the Great Lakes in Canada and had cruised on small ships around the world, but it was not until the grips of the pandemic began to ease that I began to explore my own backyard on just about every small ship cruising in Ontario at that time. 

Throughout the summers of 2021 and 2022, I left no stone unturned when I embarked on diverse voyages on four different cruise lines. Each cruise offered a distinctive perspective on the treasures of Ontario. From the historical St. Lawrence River with St. Lawrence Cruise Lines to the UNESCO-designated Rideau Canal with Ontario Waterways Cruises, and from the Great Lakes with Viking Cruises to the tranquil Rideau Canal explored by luxury houseboat with Le Boat, each journey was a unique odyssey.

Starting with St. Lawrence Cruise LinesCanadian Empress on the St. Lawrence River from Kingston to Upper Canada Village and back to Kingston. The Ontario Waterways Cruises aboard Kawartha Voyageur cruising the entire length of the UNESCO-designated Rideau Canal from Kingston to Ottawa. Viking CruisesOctantis from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay cruising the Great Lakes. And lastly, I explored the Rideau Canal by luxury houseboat with Le Boat twice with my family, starting from Smiths Falls.

These are not typical big ship cruises with large suites, haute cuisine, and gala shows that cruisers have become accustomed to, and won’t necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you are seeking slow travel to immerse in a destination, comfort food and total relaxation on what at times felt like a floating cottage, you should consider small-ship cruising in this part of Canada.

Here are a few things you need to know about small-ship cruising in Ontario.

Intimate Atmosphere

Small cruises typically accommodate fewer passengers, creating a more intimate and personalized atmosphere. This allows for better interaction with fellow travellers and the crew. A more intimate connection can be made between the passengers and crew on board. 

Culinary Experiences

Some small-ship cruises in Ontario focus on providing high-quality, locally sourced cuisine. So many passengers may enjoy fresh, regional dishes prepared by skilled chefs.

This way, you can experience the local cuisine of the area you are cruising through. It gives the passengers a more cultural experience. 

Flexibility in Itineraries

Small-ship cruises in Ontario often have flexible itineraries. Captains can adjust their routes based on weather conditions, wildlife sightings, or passenger preferences, providing a more dynamic experience.

Unlike a large cruise ship, taking a detour on a small ship cruise is a possibility. And it will heighten the experience for all passengers. Meanwhile, large cruises avoid taking detours due to the ship’s size. It limits their maneuverability and creates safety concerns for their passengers. 

Expert Guide Opportunities

Many small-ship cruises offer educational programs and expert guides. They provide insights into the local history, culture, and ecology of the areas visited.

Your expeditions on and off the ship would be guided by an expert who can create an interactive learning environment. This is where you can learn about history, wildlife, and landmarks. And they even help you connect with locals of the location you are visiting. 

My journey into the realm of small-ship cruising in Ontario has been a deeply enriching exploration of my own backyard. Being born and raised on the shores of the Great Lakes, I had previously ventured on small ships around the globe. However, it was the gradual easing of the pandemic’s grip that prompted me to rediscover the beauty of Ontario’s waterways on a series of captivating cruises.