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Cruising the Great Lakes

Program Overview

Admire magnificent coastal scenery and discover nearly two centuries of North American innovation and maritime history on this one-of-a-kind cruise itinerary from Toronto to Milwaukee—featuring all 5 Great Lakes. Experience the thunderous force of Niagara Falls; the Henry Ford Museum of Innovation in Detroit; the historical charm of Mackinac Island; and transit the Welland Canal and Soo Locks, among the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. Extend your Great Lakes immersion with the Toronto Pre-Program and/or Milwaukee Post-Program Options.

Program Details

September 22 to 29, 2024 (Le Bellot)
From $5,895 plus air View Terms & Conditions
  • Eight-day, seven-night voyage between Toronto to Milwaukee, featuring a cruise of all 5 Great Lakes, including a call at Mackinac Island.
  • In Toronto, cruise through 8 locks of the Welland Canal, one of North America’s most important economic lifelines, linking Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.  
  • Full-day excursion to Niagara Falls, with a cruise to Horseshoe Falls and lunch overlooking the falls. 
  • Discover the Sir Adam Beck Power Station, the world’s first large-scale hydroelectric generation project, and Niagara’s famous Floral Clock, intricately filled with 20,000 plants and flowers. 
  • Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts and see Diego Rivera’s monumental Detroit Industry mural, as well as master works by Auguste Rodin; Michelangelo; Vincent van Gogh; Edgar Degas; and Paul Cézanne. 
  • Explore the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Mansion. 
  • Private, glass-bottom boat cruise through Big and Little Tub Harbors and around Flowerpot Island in Tobermory, Ontario. 
  • Visit the SS Valley Camp, a retired lake freighter that is now a museum featuring exhibits of faithfully restored living quarters. 
  • Transit the Soo Locks from Lake Huron to Lake Superior. 
  • Watch colossal freighters lower 21 feet from Lake Superior to enter Lake Huron at the Soo Locks Interpretation Center. 
  • Horse-drawn carriage tour of Victorian Mackinac Island and clifftop Fort Mackinac with lunch at the historic Grand Hotel. 

Day 1 - Depart Home City / Arrive in Toronto, Canada / Embark the ship/ Welland Canal

Day 2 - Niagara Falls / Lake Erie

Day 3 - Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Day 4 - Detroit / Lake Huron

Day 5 - Tobermory, Canada / Lake Huron

Day 6 - Soo Locks / Lake Superior / Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, U.S.

Day 7 - Mackinac Island / Lake Michigan

Day 8 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin / Return to home city

View detailed program itinerary >

This elegant, exclusively chartered, 5-Star Luxury Small Ship features private balconies on all staterooms and suites, complementary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and warm and inviting public areas.

Le Bellot

Le Bellot, launched in 2020, ushers in a new generation of five-star small ships, combining revolutionary design and a new standard of luxury for unparalleled cruising. Dock in smaller ports inaccessible to larger ships, where authentic cultural experiences and majestic scenery await you.

View Le Bellot Deckplan >

Learn more about The PONANT Fleet >

Canada, Toronto, Ontario, skyline

Toronto Pre-Program Option

Start your Great Lakes voyage early in cosmopolitan Toronto, one of North America’s most celebrated cultural melting pots. Enjoy a walking tour of the Distillery District, Canada’s premier arts, culture and entertainment destination, and visit Fort York, built in 1793 on the shores of Lake Ontario. Enjoy lunch in the CN Tower’s 360-degree revolving restaurant. Visit Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival mansion and garden built in the style of a European castle by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Tour the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto’s crowning jewel with a collection of over 80,000 works. Accommodations for two nights are in the historical Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Post-Program Option

Rich in architectural treasures and world‑class institutions, vibrant Milwaukee is the perfect extension to your Great Lakes cruise. Enjoy a panoramic tour of the historical North Point neighborhood — home to one of the finest collections of Victorian mansions in the Midwest — and tour the expansive Milwaukee Art Museum, an impressive addition to Milwaukee’s revitalized waterfront. Visit the striking Pabst Mansion, built in Flemish style by Pabst Brewing Company president Frederick Pabst. Accommodations for two nights are in the centrally located Pfister Hotel.

The Pre- and Post-Program Options are available at an additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation. 

Ric MixterRic Mixter

Maritime historian, journalist and author Ric Mixter is one of the most requested speakers on the Great Lakes. He has dived over 100 wrecks in the Great Lakes, served as cameraman on underwater expeditions to the Edmund Fitzgerald and Carl D. Bradley and interviewed survivors connected to the Novadoc, James H. Reed and Cedarville shipwrecks as well as other wrecks in lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie.

Driven by his passion for storytelling, Ric's impressive work includes over 30 programs for PBS and the Outdoor Channel and he has been featured as a shipwreck expert on the History and Discovery Channels.

Ric has been awarded by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society and the Association for Great Lakes Maritime Historians. He served as president of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association and is a board member for the prestigious Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.

When he's not underwater exploring vessels that once sailed the Great Lakes, Ric can be found flying single‑engine planes as well as time in F-16s, B-52s and the Goodyear Blimp.

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Program Itinerary

Day 1 Depart Home City / Toronto, Canada / Embark the ship / Lake Ontario / Welland Canal

Arrive in Toronto and cruise through eight locks of the Welland Canal, one of North America’s most important economic lifelines. Constructed in the early 19th century, the canal links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and was instrumental in opening the Great Lakes to commerce and prosperity; the canal carries nearly 40 million tons of cargo per year. Enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception this evening.

Day 2 Niagara Falls / Lake Erie

Drive to Niagara Falls and ride the Hornblower Cruise Funicular up the 19-story rock walls of the Great Gorge and back down. Cruise toward the base of Horseshoe Falls and experience the sheer force of this geological wonder. After a specially-arranged lunch, see the 410 million-year-old layers of the Niagara Gorge and the Whirlpool Rapids, among the world’s most extreme. Discover the Sir Adam Beck Power Station, the world’s first large-scale hydroelectric generation project, and Niagara’s famous Floral Clock, intricately filled with 20,000 plants and flowers. This evening, cruise Lake Erie.

Day 3 Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of the most significant collections of art in the nation, housed in a magnificent Beaux Arts building. See Diego Rivera’s monumental Detroit Industry mural, which captures the city’s blue-collar history, as well as master works by Auguste Rodin; Michelangelo; Vincent van Gogh;
Edgar Degas; and Paul Cézanne. Continue to Grosse Point to visit the Edsel and Eleanor Ford Mansion.

Day 4 Detroit / Lake Huron

Visit the acclaimed Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See Henry Ford’s birthplace, two of Thomas Edison’s workshops, and Orville and Wilbur Wright’s bicycle shop. This evening, cruise Lake Huron.

Day 5 Tobermory, Canada / Lake Huron

In Tobermory, embark on a glass-bottom boat cruise from Little Tub Harbor to Big Tub Harbor. See the remains of the schooner Sweepstakes, Big Tub Lighthouse, and the Flowerpot Island. Enjoy time at leisure. Prepare for more stunning views this evening as you cruise across Lake Huron.

Day 6 Soo Locks / Lake Superior / Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, U.S.

This morning, transit the Soo Locks from Lake Superior to Lake Huron and back. Arrive in Sault Ste. Marie and explore the SS Valley Camp, a retired lake freighter that is now a museum featuring exhibits of faithfully restored living quarters and the tragic loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Continue to the Soo Locks Interpretation Center and watch colossal freighters lower 21 feet from Lake Superior to enter Lake Huron. This evening, cruise Lake Huron.

Day 7 Mackinac Island / Lake Michigan

On Mackinac Island, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride to dramatic Arch Rock. Continue on a guided tour of Fort Mackinac. Stop at the Grand Hotel for lunch and return to the ship by carriage. Cruise Lake Michigan and attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening.

Day 8 Milwaukee, Wisconsin / Return to home city

Disembark continue onto the Milwaukee Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight home.