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SAIL INTO MARITIME HISTORY
 
(2015 - Spring Issue)

Writer: E. LISA MOSES



Haimark Line’s new North American crown jewel sails not only famous inland waterways, but also conquers favourite coastal seas.

Evoking the elegance of the popular steamboats, which in the early 1900s ferried stylish vacationers back and forth across the Great Lakes, the newly refurbished and rechristened MS Saint Laurent redefines “living in the lap of luxury.”After a $3.5-million renovation (more than the original cost of building 100 of those historic steamers), the MS Saint Laurent will embark on her inaugural voyage in May 2015 from Portland, Maine, to Montréal, Québec. From Montréal, she’ll continue along the St. Lawrence Seaway with stops at such attractions as Niagara Falls, Georgian Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac Island.

“We are gratified by consumer response to this exciting innovation,”says Tom Markwell, managing partner, sales and marketing. “In the 2015 summer months, we have limited availability remaining on our 18 sailings.”He explains that one of the biggest draws is the intimate ship size—a 210-guest capacity—that can navigate anything from the vast spaces of the Atlantic Ocean to the narrow confines of the Welland Canal. “She has wonderful outdoor spaces, fantastic food and many all-inclusive elements.”

Welcome Aboard

From the moment passengers step on board, they are embraced by the vessel’s classic lines and gracious spaces. Her four-star-plus standard boasts 105 thoroughly refurbished, smartly designed staterooms stocked with fine linens, towels and toiletries. Outdoor lounges and dining venues, along with an excellent observation deck, let cruisers make the most of the fine summer weather and breathtaking views unique to this part of the world.

According to Markwell, Haimark knows that outstanding cuisine is essential to a successful cruising experience, and confirms that every itinerary has very attractive menus and local specialties. Both the indoor Shearwater Dining Room and Cliff Rock, the ship’s outdoor dining venue, provide unforgettable gastronomic journeys. “The cruises are also fairly inclusive,”he adds. “With the exception of gratuities, all onboard meals and an open bar are included, as are shore excursions led by highly knowledgeable local guides.”Passengers can customize their excursions with morning group activities and individual options in the afternoons.

Opportunities abound for cruisers to broaden their knowledge about the area, with educational talks by experts and celebrities in various fields. On the ship’s inaugural voyage from May 30 to June 11, internationally renowned journalist Dan Rather is the featured guest. On some later voyages, guests will benefit from the unparalleled local knowledge of Frederick Stonehouse, author of more than 30 books on the maritime history of the Great Lakes and professor of maritime history at Northern Michigan University. Stonehouse has been a consultant for both the U.S. National Park Service and Parks Canada and has served as an on-air expert for media such as National Geographic, History Channel and Fox Family. 

While a recent addition to maritime history, the MS Saint Laurent comes with a respectable pedigree. In 2001, she was built by the Mississippi-based Delta Queen Steamboat Company to cruise the Great Lakes and explore exotic Central and South America. In her first year, she sailed the Great Lakes as the Cape May Light. The events of September 2011 led to the company’s downfall, so she was subsequently purchased by Fleetpro, a Miami-based passenger ship management company, and renamed Sea Voyager. Seeing an opportunity to bring her back into her element, Haimark Line entered into a long-term lease of the vessel in 2014.

Itineraries Galore

Many people have no idea how vast the five interconnected Great Lakes really are, nor do they realize the potential they offer visitors for rare historical and cultural experiences. Lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, Ontario and Erie comprise the world’s largest body of fresh water, containing 21 per cent of the world’s supply. Along with the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes serve as major commercial and fishing arteries that cruisers can explore and enjoy.

Haimark’s itineraries are designed to maximize the features of these waterways and satisfy the interests of passengers, whether they like history, geography or culture. For example, guests on the 10-day “Great Lakes Grand Discovery”sail from Chicago with historic stops on Lake Michigan, among them the Henry Ford Museum; Georgian Bay and Ojibwa country; Lakes Huron and Erie; and Niagara Falls, before disembarking in Toronto. Other expeditions include the “French-Canadian Maritimes and Coastal North Atlantic,”touching British, Scottish and French-Canadian maritime ports—as well as the world-famous Anne of Green Gables home. The “Historic St. Lawrence River and America’s Five Great Lakes”takes guests from the St. Lawrence River and Montréal to Chicago.

Like many other North Americans, the MS Saint Laurent heads south for the winter. The repositioning cruise, a 13-day “Historic Coastal New England”itinerary, sails out of Portland hugging the U.S. east coast on her way down. Stops include immortal metropolises and towns such as Boston, Newport, Charleston and Savannah before she arrives in Nassau, Bahamas for her final two days. From there, she heads to the warmer climes of the Panama Canal and laid-back Central and South America.

Haimark Line, created in 2012, is also in the process of launching upmarket river cruises in Southeast Asia on the Irrawaddy, Mekong and Ganges Rivers, where a number of new ships have been introduced over the last few months.

Travel Planner

To book your Haimark Line cruise, contact Haimark at 855-HAIMARK (855-424-6275) or your travel agent. 

For more information about Haimark Line, visit haimarkline.com

 
 
 
 
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