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Cruise the Great Lakes for a Family-Friendly Adventure

by Erich Martin

Feb 1, 2020

Photo: Mitgirl | Dreamstime.com


Cruising is a popular family vacation for many reasons, including grand escapes on large, luxurious ships sailing to exotic locales. There is more to cruising than jumping on a huge ocean liner, though.


The Great Lakes offer an opportunity for families to cruise new cities without needing to fly to cruising hubs in Miami or New York City, while still offering stops at incredible cities and destinations.


Just like planning an ocean cruise, booking a Great Lakes cruise comes with a number of considerations. The biggest one: deciding which cities you want to hit. Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto, Montreal, Niagara Falls and more are excellent options for Great Lakes cruise destinations.


Once you have your destination in mind, check out the cruise lines available.


Great Lakes Cruise Company, operating since the late 1990s, boasts four ships offering small  ship-styled cruising. A perfect example is the Pearl Mist, which includes 100 oversized staterooms in six categories for every type of traveler. Check out each of the ships and destinations to make sure they accommodate your family’s cruise expectations of the Great Lakes.


Lake Huron. Photo: Edward Lange | Dreamstime.com


Unsurprisingly, Great Lakes Cruise Company makes the inland seas its No. 1 priority. A few itineraries include the New England portions of the Atlantic Ocean, but its bread and butter lies in the massive freshwater deposits.


Victory Cruise Lines offers Great Lake itineraries, usually connecting two key cities or landmarks, including Montreal, Buffalo, Boston, Portland and more. Pearl Seas Cruises also offers a Great Lakes itinerary, which hits many of the big-name destinations, including Milwaukee and Toronto for eight days or more.


Depending on who you ask, one of the biggest benefits to river and fresh water cruises is the ship size. Specialty lines also offer small-vessel ocean sailings, but in a river or lake, even ones as large as the Great Lakes, smaller ships become a necessity.


Small ships might prove intimidating for families. Usually, these lines don’t offer the childcare amenities available on bigger lines, but this also brings forward the chance for family togetherness.


Whether your next family cruise is on a river, lake or the ocean, consider booking a small ship and see why fresh water sailings have grown in popularity.


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