We were interested in this 10 day cruise since we haven't been to this area other than Chicago & Cleveland. We also wanted to see Niagara Falls. We purchased this cruise thru Vantage which leases the ship thru Victory Cruiseline. The Victory I holds about 200 passengers. There was 115 passengers on the cruise we took - 93 being Vantage passengers. There was one Vantage staff person (cruise director called an Adventure Leader) who worked in tandem with the ship's cruise director (Expedition Host).
We flew into Toronto the day before the cruise and met the Vantage Adventure Leader at the Marriot Hotel. The next day, we took a city tour and then embarked on the Victory I.
Hiighlights include: Niagara Falls, Niagara area winery lunch, Lolly Trolley in Cleveland, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village (purchased ticket separately), cruising the St. Clair river, going thru the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie into Lake Superior (we can say we have been on all 5 Great Lakes), info about the Edmund Fitzgerald & Mackinac Island with the Grand Hotel buffet.
Cruise Lecturers - There were 2. One focused on the port talks and history of the area. He also talked about etiquette - it's history and application into today's business world. It sounds strange, but many of us found it very interesting. The second lecturer had worked for NASA during the Apollo project & he had lectures on astronomy. They were well informed and enjoyable. We also had a guest lecturer from the Grand Hotel the evening after our visit to Mackinac Island. Very funny!
Service - The staff & crew onboard were friendly, courteous & efficient. The morning after cruising on the St. Clair river into Lake Huron, we found the crew washing off the many bugs that collected overnight (Mayflies?). The Wi-Fi was included & reception was pretty good.
Food - We found the food was varied & very good. There was a cocktail hour before dinner where announcements were made. Beer & wine were included on the cruise. Breakfast was buffet style, however you could order from your table if you wanted to. You ordered from a menu for lunch & dinner. There was also an outdoor grill where breakfast & dinner was offered. We did not go to any of the meals there, hubby would walk over to it in the morning for his coffee. It was a great place to have a drink and see sunsets in the evening - weather permitting.
Afternoon Teas - There was 3 afternoon teas. A Royal High tea, Spirit of the Maharajahs, and a Viennese Afternoon tea. Lots of goodies to be had.
Disembarkation was at an industrial port south of downtown Chicago. Transportation was arranged by the Vantage Adventure Leader. We ended up sharing a taxi - our share, $20.
We are very glad we went on this cruise. I am looking at another Great Lakes cruise advertised by Victory Cruiselines - Western Great Lakes. It includes ports in Lake Superior.
The cabin on this cruise was the smallest we ever had on a cruise. We usually book a balcony/veranda when we cruise at sea. On the Vantage river cruise we took, we had a french balcony room. On this cruise, our cabin was on the 4th deck, same deck as the outdoor grill. We had to go outside to access our cabin which we did not expect. Passengers going to the outdoor grill (or just walking around) would pass by our room - less privacy. But we had chairs & a small table so we could sit just outside our room - weather permitting. This cruise was advertised as a luxury cruise, however, I don't call soap dispensers at the sink or in the shower as luxury. You needed to bring your own lotion. There was shampoo & conditioner dispensers in the shower. Luckily I remembered to take a bar of soap from the Marriot in Toronto since hubby does not like bath gel.