Explore the magnificent Great Lakes on this popular and captivating cruise. You will enjoy crystal-clear blue waters surrounded by pristine wilderness, turn-of-the-century towns, and pastoral splendors.

Starting at: $6,499 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 A lighthouse overlooking Lake Michigan  Aerial view of Chicago, Illinois  The city of Chicago, renowned for its modern and contemporary architecture  Horse and buggy on Mackinac Island  Mackinac Island overlooking Lake Huron  Mackinac Bridge at night over the Straits of Mackinac  Valley Camp Ship Museum, Sault Saint Marie  Ontario's Georgian Bay in the northeastern arm of Lake Huron  Ontario's Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron  View of Detroit, Michigan from Windsor, Ontario, Canada  Henry Ford Museum, Detroit  Skyline of Cleveland, Ohio  Horseshoe Falls, Niagara, Ontario

Great Lakes Grand Voyage

11-13 days from $6,499

Explore the magnificent Great Lakes on this popular and captivating cruise. You will enjoy crystal-clear blue waters surrounded by pristine wilderness, turn-of-the-century towns, and pastoral splendors.

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person* when you book by August 31, 2018! 

Overview

The Great Lakes region is one of the world’s most magnificent and historic inland waterways. Crystal-clear blue waters are surrounded by pristine wilderness, turn-of-the-century towns, and pastoral splendors.

2018 Highlights Include:

  • Chicago: Spend one night at The Drake Hotel, then enjoy a morning art and architecture tour of the city before embarking Victory I.
  • Lake Michigan: From Chicago, set sail for Mackinac Island, a national historic landmark steeped in the Victorian Era.
  • Lake Superior and Georgian Bay: As you transit the Soo Locks learn about this incredible engineering system. Visit the museum ship Valley Camp and gain insight into the Ojibwe Nation on Manitoulin Island.
  • Lake Huron: Enjoy a day of cruising then stop at Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum with its extensive automobile and historical collections.
  • Lake Erie: Tour the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and West Side Market. Then, cruising east to New York, enjoy an excursion to Niagara Falls capped off by a wine tasting.
  • Lake Ontario: Your voyage concludes in cosmopolitan Toronto.

2019 Highlights:

  • Chicago: Spend one night at The Palmer Hotel, then enjoy a morning art and architecture tour of the city before embarking Pearl Mist.
  • Lake Michigan: From Chicago, set sail for Muskegon, Michigan to tour the quaint heritage district, then visit Holland, Michigan, known for its Dutch heritage including De Zwann, an original 250-year-old Dutch windmill. Stop at Mackinac Island, MI a national historic landmark steeped in the Victorian Era.
  • Sault Ste. Marie: Visit the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum, which tells the story of Canada’s bush plane and forest fire protection, then tour the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, highlighting the city’s role as the gateway between the eastern settlements of Canada and Western boundaries prior to the completion of the transcontinental railway.
  • Georgian Bay: Gain insight into the Ojibwe Nation on Manitoulin Island. Take an excursion by smaller watercraft intoParry Sound, located inside the designated Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. Visit Midland, Ontario located in the southern portion of Georgian Bay, with its vibrant downtown area.
  • Lake Huron: Enjoy a day of cruising then stop at Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum with its extensive automobile and historical collections.
  • Lake Erie:  Cruise east to the entrance of the Welland Canal, then take a thrilling overland excursion to view Niagara Falls up-close, capped off by a wine tasting.
  • Lake Ontario: Your voyage concludes in cosmopolitan Toronto.

*During these voyages, we will share the ship with other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

2018 Itinerary

2018 Highlights Include:

  • Chicago: Spend one night at The Drake Hotel, then enjoy a morning art and architecture tour of the city before embarking Victory I.
  • Lake Michigan: From Chicago, set sail for Mackinac Island, a national historic landmark steeped in the Victorian Era.
  • Lake Superior and Georgian Bay: As you transit the Soo Locks learn about this incredible engineering system. Visit the museum ship Valley Camp and gain insight into the Ojibwe Nation on Manitoulin Island.
  • Lake Huron: Enjoy a day of cruising then stop at Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum with its extensive automobile and historical collections.
  • Lake Erie: Tour the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and West Side Market. Then, cruising east to New York, enjoy an excursion to Niagara Falls capped off by a wine tasting.
  • Lake Ontario: Your voyage concludes in cosmopolitan Toronto.

Day 1 – Depart for Chicago, Illinois

Smithsonian Journeys travelers depart from their gateway city for Chicago. Upon arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, guests will be met by a Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director. After retrieving your luggage, transfer to The Drake Hotel, this historic property is conveniently located just steps from Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. At the hotel, each guest will receive a customized welcome kit containing general information about Chicago, as well as a map of the city. The Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available this afternoon, and throughout the program, for suggestions regarding restaurants and independent activities. This evening, meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception including a short introduction and presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (R)

Day 2 – Chicago / Cruising Lake Michigan

Start the day with a hearty breakfast then depart the hotel for a short walking tour of Millennium Park, the city’s newest and most popular public spaces. See architect Frank Gehry’s dazzling Pritzker Music Pavilion and the extraordinary reflections in Anish Kapoor’s mirror-like Cloud Gate sculpture. The twin towers of Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa’s playful Crown Fountain is utterly amazing. Nearby you’ll find the Chicago Art Institute where, with an included ticket in hand, you can explore on your own. This afternoon, see some of Chicago’s famed architectural masterpieces like the Merchandise Mart and Civic Opera House, along with the iconic Tribune Tower and the landmark Wrigley Building. See Marina City and superb Chicago School of Architecture structures including the Reliance Building, and the Carson Pirie Scott Building. Late in the afternoon transfer to embark the Victory I. (B,D) 

Day 3 – Cruising Lake Michigan

A full buffet-style breakfast will be served onboard the ship each morning. Begin the day with a presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Spend the day sailing on Lake Michigan, a body of water that covers 22, 000 square miles and is the only Great Lake totally within the borders of the United States. Lake Michigan is the fifth largest lake in the world. Join fellow travelers and your Smithsonian Journeys Expert this evening in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal get-together. (B,L,D)​

Day 4 – Mackinac Island

This morning, early risers will watch the sun rise over the Straits of Mackinac, a body of water that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. After arrival at Mackinac, Smithsonian Journeys travelers will go ashore and begin exploring on a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour of the island. During the tour, guests will visit the Victorian-era Grand Hotel, where the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed. The tour also includes Fort Mackinac, which was built by the British in the late 18th century, taken by the Americans, and then reclaimed by the British at the start of the War of 1812. Later, follow your own path with the balance of the afternoon free of planned activities. Later, learn about the history of the area from a local historian and speaker. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Sault Ste. Marie

Today, the ship will sail through the Soo Locks and pass from Lake Huron into Lake Superior at Sault Ste. Marie. For choice, you can select one of the following shore excursions.

Choice #1 – Excursion to the Valley Camp Museum Ship, with a stop at the Soo Locks viewing platform. Travelers will visit the informative Visitor’s Center to learn about the four parallel locks: MacArthur, Poe, Davis and Sabin. In total, 10,000 ships per year pass through the locks.

Choice #2 – Tour the Bush Plane Heritage Center then visit the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site that showcases two historic stone buildings built in the 19th century. You’ll enjoy fascinating exhibits and interactive features.

This evening, join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an engaging presentation. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Manitoulin Island

This morning, travelers will marvel at the rugged beauty of Georgian Bay, often called the sixth Great Lake. Manitoulin Island is the world’s largest freshwater island and home to the Ojibwa people, part of the First Nation of Anishinaabe, also known as the Chippewa. The Ojibwa are the largest population of First Nations people in continental North America. They speak the Anishinaabe language and live mostly in the Great Lakes region of Canada. They are known for their historic use of pictographic birch bark scrolls. After touring, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Later, join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for a fascinating presentation. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Cruising Lake Huron

The second largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Huron has a surface area of 23,000 square miles and 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 other of the lakes. Later, attend an engaging talk by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Detroit / Windsor, Ontario, Canada

After sailing from Lake Huron into Lake Erie, the ship will arrive at Windsor, Ontario. Smithsonian Journeys travelers will leave the ship and board their motor coach and travel to Detroit, Michigan where a visit will be made at the Henry Ford Museum, created to showcase the genius of American ingenuity. The nine-acre museum is dedicated to the finest collection of its kind. Local docents will escort travelers to see the museum’s highlights that include the Kennedy limousine, the Rosa Parks bus and the Lincoln chair from Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Cleveland

After arrival in Cleveland situated on the shores of Lake Erie, travelers will take a scenic tour of this diverse city. Landmarks include the Cleveland Museum of Art, the I.M. Pei designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the famous West Side Market that dates back to the 1800’s. Join fellow travelers and the Smithsonian Journeys Expert this evening for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries. (B,L,D)

Day 10 – Welland Canal and Niagara Falls

After breakfast, Smithsonian Journeys travelers will disembark the ship at Port Colbourne on the southern end of the Welland Canal. The original canal was opened in 1829 and was extended to reach Lake Erie in 1833. The excursion continues through the Niagara Wine Region, home to a number of vineyards and wineries. At Niagara Falls, travelers will embark on a cruise into the misty spray of the remarkable Horseshoe Falls. The tour concludes with a visit to a local winery for a sampling of the local vintage. This evening, Smithsonian Journeys travelers gather for a special farewell reception followed by dinner onboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 11 – Toronto

After breakfast, travelers will disembark the ship for the short transfer to the airport in Toronto where they check-in for flights to their home cities. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2019 Itinerary

2019 Highlights:

  • Chicago: Spend one night at The Palmer Hotel, then enjoy a morning art and architecture tour of the city before embarking Pearl Mist.
  • Lake Michigan: From Chicago, set sail for Muskegon, Michigan to tour the quaint heritage district, then visit Holland, Michigan, known for its Dutch heritage including De Zwann, an original 250-year-old Dutch windmill. Stop at Mackinac Island, MI a national historic landmark steeped in the Victorian Era.
  • Sault Ste. Marie: Visit the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum, which tells the story of Canada’s bush plane and forest fire protection, then tour the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, highlighting the city’s role as the gateway between the eastern settlements of Canada and Western boundaries prior to the completion of the transcontinental railway.
  • Georgian Bay: Gain insight into the Ojibwe Nation on Manitoulin Island. Take an excursion by smaller watercraft into Parry Sound, located inside the designated Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. Visit Midland, Ontario located in the southern portion of Georgian Bay, with its vibrant downtown area.​
  • Lake Huron: Enjoy a day of cruising then stop at Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum with its extensive automobile and historical collections.​
  • Lake Erie:  Cruise east to the entrance of the Welland Canal, then take a thrilling overland excursion to view Niagara Falls up-close, capped off by a wine tasting.​
  • Lake Ontario: Your voyage concludes in cosmopolitan Toronto.

*During this voyage, we will share the ship with other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

Day 1 — Depart for Chicago

Depart your gateway city to Chicago. Upon arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, transfer to The Palmer House Hotel conveniently located in Chicago’s Loop. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available this afternoon, and throughout the program, for suggestions regarding restaurants and independent activities. This evening, meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception including introductory remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (R)

Day 2 — Chicago / Cruising Lake Michigan

Start the day with a hearty breakfast then depart the hotel for an orientation tour of Chicago’s architectural highlights including the Merchandise Mart and Civic Opera House, the iconic Tribune Tower and the landmark Wrigley Building.

See Marina City and superb Chicago School of Architecture structures including the Reliance Building and the Carson Pirie Scott Building. The tour ends at Navy Pier with embarkation aboard the Pearl Mist. (B,L,D) 

Day 3 — Muskegon / Holland, Michigan

A full breakfast will be served each morning during the cruise. After arrival, take a ride through the Heritage District and admire historic homes and picturesque gardens. Tour LST 393, a ship that earned three battle stars during WWII and is now a veteran’s museum. Stop at the Muskegon Heritage Museum and view displays of products manufactured in Muskegon, including an original Raggedy Ann Doll, a working steam engine, bowling pins, and more.

Journey to Holland, home to the only authentic Dutch Windmill in the U.S. and enjoy its genuine Dutch heritage that has existed since the original Dutch immigrants arrived. Join fellow travelers this evening in the Travelers Corner for an informal get-together. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Mackinac Island

This morning, early risers can watch the sun rise over the Straits of Mackinac, a body of water that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. After arrival at Mackinac, go ashore and begin exploring on a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour of the island. Classic Victorian architecture lines the streets along your journey to Fort Mackinac’s historic museum. This fortress is the oldest building in Michigan and commemorates the War of 1812.

Continue to the Grand Hotel, where you can explore the grounds and indulge in a delectable lunch on your own at this historic site. Later, follow your own path with the balance of the afternoon free of planned activities. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Sault Sainte Marie

After docking, explore the Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Center and discover the story of Canada’s bush plane and forest protection heritage. Learn how many brave Canadians battled Ontario's many forest fires as you view interactive displays and presentations and admire the classic and fully restored bush planes. Continue to the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site where you’ll stroll through 200-year-old buildings and period gardens while listening to the stories of the first Canadian settlers.

This evening, join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Little Current-Georgian Bay

This morning, leave the ship and learn about the Ojibwe people, the largest population of First Nations people in continental North America. They speak the Anishinaabe language and live mostly in the Great Lakes region of Canada. They are known for their historic use of pictographic birch bark scrolls. After touring, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Parry Sound-Georgian Bay

Today, enjoy a relaxing boat tour aboard the Island Queen. Cruise amongst the greatest concentration of scenic islands in the world and admire the grandeur of the Thirty Thousand Islands up close. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Midland, Ontario-Georgian Bay

For your convenience, a shuttle will be available between the ship and town. On a shore excursion, follow in the footsteps of the first Europeans in Ontario with a visit to the 17th century French Jesuit Mission headquarters. Here, the story of the first interaction between the native people and the Europeans is recreated with interactive exhibits.

Led by your expert guide, explore a replica of the barracks, homes, and meeting places that housed the Jesuits and learn about their fascinating history. Later, discover the SS Keewatin, a steamship built in 1907 in Scotland that sailed along the entire length of the Great Lakes. Retired in 1966, explore its authentic staterooms, bars, ballrooms, and more, as you learn what traveling aboard a steamship through the Great Lakes was like in a bygone era. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Cruising Georgian Bay

Enjoy the day sailing through Georgian Bay. There’s time to read, relax and take part in shipboard activities. Sail among the islands and see a variety of flora and fauna unique to the region, as well as the pink rocks of the Canadian Shield, and the dark green of the islands’ famous windswept pines. (B,L,D)

Days 10 — Windsor, Ontario / Detroit, Michigan

Depart the ship for a full-day of discovery. Explore the Henry Ford Museum that showcases a vast collection of artifacts that document the inventions that have made our world what it is today. Highlights include the new "Driving America" exhibit, the Kennedy limousine, Rosa Park’s Bus, a Lincoln Chair and a DC-3 airplane and more.

With its nearly one hundred historical buildings, Greenfield Village demonstrates how Americans lived and worked since the founding of the country. Explore buildings from the 17th century to the present, led by costumed guides who conduct period tasks like farming, sewing, and cooking. Pottery, glass-blowing, and tin shops provide demonstrations while producing materials used in the Village. Lunch is provided on this excursion and travelers may select a restaurant of their choice. (B,L)

Day 11 — Cruising Lake Erie

As the ship heads from Windsor, Ontario, marvel at the natural wonders and majestic beauty of the Great Lakes from the comfort of your ship. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Lake Erie, Port Colborne / Niagara Falls

Disembark the ship and board a deluxe motor coach for an exciting adventure to the majestic falls and fertile vineyards of the countryside. Enjoy an exhilarating excursion on the famous Maid of the Mist and come within feet of the Horseshoe Falls and its misty spray. Then travel on the Niagara Parkway to see the Floral Clock and Whirlpool Rapids. This evening, gather with fellow Smithsonian Journeys Travelers for a farewell reception followed by dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Day 13 — Lake Ontario, Toronto

After breakfast, travelers will disembark the ship for the short transfer to the airport in Toronto where you’ll check-in for flights to your home cities. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)