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Tauck Cruising the Great Lakes: Chicago to Toronto

This 12-day Great Lakes odyssey includes an 8-night cruise on North America’s inland seas with two hotel nights in Chicago and two in Toronto. Ports of call include treasures from Chicago to Michigan vineyards, Niagara Falls, and the charms of Mackinac Island.

The mighty Great Lakes have played a vital role in the history and cultural fabric of North America for centuries… and this new 12-day small ship cruise invites you to explore their storied waters – and some of the unique cities and towns that have grown along their shores – with a 7-night Great Lakes cruise between Chicago and Toronto aboard the beautiful yacht Le Champlain, plus two-night stays at your choice of premium hotels in these two great anchor cities.

You’ll sail through Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and Michigan, calling on destinations including Detroit, Mackinac Island, Traverse City and more. Explore urban planning and revitalization in a re-emerging Detroit; celebrate American invention and ingenuity at The Henry Ford in Dearborn; visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore; enjoy lunch at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel; ride a dune buggy along the Lake Michigan shore; sample Holland, Michigan’s Dutch heritage, tulips and beer culture; experience a Wrigley.

  • Gratuities to Tauck Directors, ship staff and local guides
  • Tauck’s private shore excursions and distinctive inclusions valued at £2,060
  • Two nights in Chicago at your choice of Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park or Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
  • Two nights in Toronto at your choice of Fairmont Royal York or Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
  • Seven nights aboard the luxury small ship Le Champlain, cruising Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and Michigan between Chicago and Toronto
  • Your cruise may be a shared ship experience with non-Tauck guests onboard as well; all Tauck guests will be accompanied by one Tauck Director for approximately every 40 Tauck guests, and your itinerary will always be highlighted by exclusive, private Tauck shore excursions
  • Architectural cruise & choice of Chicago Art Institute or Wrigley Field visits in Chicago
  • Private off-road adventure at Lake Michigan dunes
  • Wine tasting of Lake Michigan area wines at a vineyard in Traverse City
  • On Mackinac Island, choice of horse-drawn carriage or bicycle tour & lunch at the Grand Hotel
  • Visits to the Music House Museum & Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore in Michigan
  • In Detroit, choice of city landmarks tour including the Motown Museum, or tour of The Henry Ford & Greenfield Village in Dearborn
  • Choice of visits to Royal Ontario Museum or Ontario Art Gallery in Toronto
  • Private boat excursion to Niagara Falls
  • Private reception and dinner at Casa Loma, a neo-Gothic castle in Toronto
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day aboard ship, including house wines & spirits; premium spirits and wines are available at extra cost
  • 28 meals on land and sea (11 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners), applicable fuel charges, service charges, porterage and taxes

Day 1 Arrive Chicago

Tauck’s Great Lakes cruise begins 6:00 PM, Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park or Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. A transfer is included from Chicago O’Hare Airport to your choice of two luxury hotels in the heart of Downtown.

Day 2 Chicago – Art & baseball

You have a choice of two sightseeing tours this morning. Visit the celebrated Chicago Art Institute or alternatively, take a walking tour of Millenium Park. Spend the rest of the day exploring Chicago on your own and then join the group for dinner at your hotel.

Day 3 – Architectural cruise & embark ship

Enjoy an archetiectural sightseeing cruise along the Chicago River. Learn about Chicago’s role in the development of skyscrapers, as you absorb the eclectic styles and histories of its landmark buildngs. Get a taste of the city’s famous stuffed, deep-dish pizza at legendary Giordano’s Pizzeria. Embark Le Champlain and begin your 7-night cruise as you sail for Muskegon, Michigan.

Day 4 – Dutch treats in Michigan

Head out from Muskegon with your choice of activities. Discover Holland, an enclave of Dutch culture, complete with dikes, canals, tulip gardens, and Dutch architecture, settled by Dutch immigrants in the 19th century. Or, travel to nearby Saugatuck to experience the giant sand dunes that line the shores of Lake Michigan. Ride through the scenic, wind-carved landscape in a modified jeep vehicle with an an experienced guide.

Day 5 -Wine & music in Traverse City

Drive to Music House Museum, a treasurehouse of working, antique automated music machines. There are also recreations of a saloon and a lyric theatre. Drive north to explore Sleeping Bear Dines National Lakeshore, where miles of beaches and forest are dominated by immense sand dunes draped over headlands. Following lunch aboard the ship, pay a visit to Brengman Brothers’ Vineyards for a tour and tasting. Tonight sail for Mackinac Island, at the straits where Lake Michigan joins Lake Huron.

Day 6 -Timeless Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island maintains it period look so well that it feels like a small town serenley lost in time. Take your choice of a carriage ride or bicycle tour around the island, past impeccable Victoria mansions, the picture-postcard main street of quaint shops, out to the fringes of forest, marshes and beaches. Don’t leave without sampling the Mackinac Fudge!

Day 7 – A day on Lake Huron

Spend the day sailing Lake Huron down the scenic east coast of Michigan toward Detroit. The eastern shore is called the Sunrise Coast, a long parade of beaches, sand dunes, inlets, small towns, and as many as 30 lighthouses. Enjoy the amenities aboard ship, which include an infinity pool, fitness center, spa, sun deck, and panoramic lounge.

Day 8 -Detroit sights & The Henry Ford

In and around Detroit you have a choice of activities. Get a docent-guided insider’s tour of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village – a.k.a. The Henry Ford – in Dearborn… an amazing, award-winning, state-of-the-art museum. Alternatively, take a guided sightseeing tour of the “Motor City” – including current downtown hotspots like the riverfront, Hart Plaza and the Renaissance Center. Return to the ship for lunch; tonight, sail for Toronto.

Day 9 – Sailing on the Welland Canal

Sail Lake Erie to Port Colborn, then enter the Welland Canal, which links Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The 27-mile canal is a marvel of engineering which allows ships to bypass the Niagara River and Niagara Falls. An onboard lecture on the canal and its history will be provided by expert Howard Shuster. Join us this evening for the captain’s farewell reception followed by dinner.

Day 10 Disembark in Toronto & Niagara Falls

Disembark in Toronto, then drive to Niagara Falls, where you’ll see the awesome power of the falls up close aboard a private boat (raingear provided). Then a tour, tasting, and lunch await you in Niagara on the Lake at Chateau des Charmes winery, surrounded by rose gardens. Return to Toronto and check in to your choice of downtown hotels where the evening is yours.

Day 11 Discovering Toronto

Take your choice of sightseeing excursions in Ontario’s remarkable capital today. A visit to the Royal Ontario Museum offers you the world under one roof, with 40 galleries and a collection of 6 million artefacts of art, culture, and natural history. Enjoy free time to explore Toronto on your own then join us this evening for a farewell reception, followed by dinner at Casa Loma, a castle with Gothic towers and five acres of gardens in the city centre.

Day 12 Journey home

Tauck’s Great Lakes cruise ends in Toronto, Canada. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Fairmont Royal York or the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

  • Travelling the Welland Canal with an onboard expert-lecture
  • Guided tour of private dunes in Saugatuck
  • Gala dinner at a historic castle in Toronto
  • Chicago – Guided sightseeing includes the Chicago Art Institute, Wrigley Field, and a cruise showcasing city architecture
  • Holland – Discover a small town inspired by Dutch culture, with canals, tulips and an authentic windmill
  • Saugatuck – Explore coastal sand dunes, some as high as 200 feet, in a modified all-terrain vehicle
  • Traverse City – Visit a local winery and vineyard, tastings included, and explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Mackinac Island – Visit a picturesque island out of time steeped in small-town Victorian charm
  • Niagara Falls – Take a boat ride to the falls, rain gear included
  • Toronto – Sightseeing with local guides includes the Royal Ontario Museum and Ontario Art Gallery and a visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Detroit – Visit the Henry Ford Museum, where exhibits include Thomas Edison’s lab and the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop

Nights 1-2 Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park or Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

A luxury tower in the heart of downtown Chicago on the New East Side, Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park is a 10-minute walk from Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile, the city’s premier shopping district. Amenities include a spa, fitness center, restaurant, cocktail bar and pub. The hotel is ranked by US News as one of the Best Hotels in Chicago (2018), convenient for sightseeing.

The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is a five-star property ideally located just steps from the Magnificent Mile and 5 minutes’ walk from Chicago’s lakefront and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Amenities include a full service spa and fitness center, 50-foot indoor pool, steam room, sauna, 24-hour room service, and minibar; the hotel also features a restaurant and bar. The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago has received Forbes’ 5-star rating 22 years in a row, and received the coveted AAA Diamond Award for 27 years.

Nights 3-9 Le Champlain

Sophisticated styling, innovative “green” technology, and welcoming, attentive service are all hallmarks of Ponant’s new limited-capacity Explorer Class yacht (boasting 92 staterooms and suites), Le Champlain, debuting for Tauck in 2019. Like her sister ships Le Lapérouse and Le Dumont d’Urville, this luxe mega-yacht features six passenger decks, a choice of two dining venues and all-included bar and restaurant beverages throughout the day aboard ship, including house wines and spirits. Her environmentally-friendly equipment, elegantly designed cabins, spacious suites with large windows, and lounge areas that open onto the outside offer the perfect atmosphere for a truly unique cruising experience. Le Champlain’s facilities and observation areas make your time at sea a pleasure; they include two restaurants and several lounges with access to the open decks and evening entertainment. A state-of-the-art theatre provides an intimate space for lectures and entertainment, while a spa and fitness center provide for travel with ease. Decorated by French designers, staterooms have sea views (most with private balconies), and offer individually controlled air conditioning; two twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed; video on demand; flat-screen TV with satellite channels; electronic safe; hair dryer; iPod Dock, and minibar.

Nights 10-11 Fairmont Royal York or Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Once the tallest building in the British Empire, 1929 Art-Deco Fairmont Royal York is a well-respected and beloved Toronto landmark. Wonderfully situated “at the center of it all” in the heart of Toronto, Fairmont Royal York offers a high standard of traditional, old-world luxury and impeccable service, even employing Canada’s only professional tea connoisseur. Comfortable guest rooms offer bathrobes, coffee makers, cable television, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards, air conditioning with individual climate control and windows that open to the outside. Swim a few laps in the indoor pool or have a workout in the state-of-the-art health club. Relax in the warm, club-like Library Bar or stop by at York Station, which evokes the golden age of the cocktail.

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is situated in the heart of Yorkville, Toronto’s premier shopping district and restaurant quarter, a ten-minute walk from the Royal Ontario Museum. Guest rooms feature floor to ceiling windows. Amenities include a state of the art fitness center, spa, indoor lap pool, a relaxation pool and whirlpool with city views, complimentary wifi, and 24-hour room service. The hotel has a chic restaurant and a cocktail bar with a terrace, and has earned a 5-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide.

Ponant’s Le Champlain offers a refined small ship cruising experience with a maximum capacity of 184 passengers. Six passenger decks include an elegant panoramic main dining room serving French and international cuisine, as well as a panoramic lounge and casual restaurant. Staterooms all feature ocean views and amenities include a spa and fitness center.

Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don’t include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment’s notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.

Please call us free on 0800 707 6229 for pricing and availability

Useful Info


Board Basis

28 meals on land and sea (11 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners)


12 Days

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