On January 29, 2018, Stephen Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition announced that eight ships will sail the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes.
The eighty-five cruises will begin in May 2018 and run until October. The ships that will sail include Pearl Mist, Victory I and Victory II, Hamburg, Jacques-Cartier, Canadian Empress, Grande Mariner and Grande Caribe. Each cruise will call at a minimum of seven ports and some at nine, for a total of 720 within the Great Lakes. This should bring close to 100,000 cruise passengers if the ships sail full, according to Burnett.
Burnett made a statement saying, “A solid base of business is appearing now with Pearl Seas Cruises and Victory Cruise Lines establishing themselves. 2018’s eight ships will swell to 12 in the coming years. This is a huge thing. It could be a game-changer.“
Mayors of Canadian Great Lakes cities such as Toronto, Ontario, and Midland have decided to invest in research to better their knowledge of infrastructure and capital needs of ports of the cruising industry. Ontario is expected to be an amazing destination for cruise lovers, however if the ships have nowhere to dock, there is no point.
Burnett also sees the opening of Cuba as “incredibly impactful” because during the off-season, many of the ships can call there instead of the Great Lakes. He is also optimistic since the St. Lawrence Seaway locks can handle vessels carrying up to about 600 passengers.
Burnett also added to the point stating, “A whole bunch of other cruise lines that are looking for somewhere that doesn’t have terrorists. There’s a great discomfort with some of the exotic regions and the general world unrest.”