Cruises Return to the Port of Toronto for First Time in Two Years

Great Lakes cruises have returned to the Port of Toronto, Canada for the first time in two years with the Viking Octantis.

After two years of suspensions and cruise bans, the first cruise ship arrived back in the port of Toronto. Viking Octantis is a luxury expedition cruise vessel sailing for River and Ocean cruise company Viking Cruises. She is the first of forty cruise ships to sail the great lakes this summer. 

The expedition ship, which was released earlier this year, will call in Toronto five times this summer. The area is ideal for smaller-sized cruise ships, for guests that enjoy exploring off-the-beaten-path places that bigger ships cannot reach. 

Great Lakes Cruising Returns

Toronto might not be the first destination that people think off when booking a cruise, but the city is becoming an increasingly popular spot on Great Lakes cruises. Viking Octantis became the first cruise ship to visit the city in more than two years and the inaugural visit for the new cruise ship. 

The expedition ship sailed for the first time earlier this year in Antarctica and has since then made its way along the Atlantic coastline. The cruise season on the Great Lakes takes place between May and October, during which the ship will make five visits to the area. 

“The return of cruise ship passengers to the Great Lakes will bring renewal and revitalization to our local tourism and travel sectors, hard-hit over the past two years. We are thrilled to welcome them back,” said Geoffrey Wilson, CEO, PortsToronto.

“Between May and October, the Port of Toronto Cruise Ship Terminal will connect thousands of foodies, sightseers and enthusiasts of all kinds to Toronto to discover what we know to be one of the greatest cities in the world.”

Viking Octantis
Photo Courtesy: Viking Cruises

During her season in the Great Lakes, Viking Octantis is sailing 15-day voyages and visiting various destinations in Canada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The Great Lakes cruises visit ports and destinations in Canada’s Ontario state, such as Thunder Bay, Toronto, Welland Canal, Niagara Falls, and Point Pelee.

In the US, she will be visiting Detroit, Alpena, Traverse City, Milwaukee, Duluth, and feature pass through Soo Locks at Sault Ste Marie, the Lake Superior to Lake Huron transit.

With a capacity of 378 guests in 189 staterooms, the 30,150 gross ton Viking Octantis was designed to travel to far-flung destinations such as the Arctic, Antarctica, and destinations where bigger ships simply cannot go. 

Cruise ships sailing the Great Lakes stay in Toronto from one to three days, giving guests ample time to explore the restaurants, attractions, and shopping while in the city.

A study from 2018 revealed that guests visiting onboard ships generate more than $6 million in revenue for local businesses.

Toronto (Photo Credit: Lucky-photographer / Shutterstock)

This year promises to be one of the busiest years yet, with 40 calls scheduled through October, bringing more than 100,000 visitors to the city. 

Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson: “Great Lakes Cruise ships have become increasingly popular at the Port of Toronto over the last decade and we welcome the return of these large passenger vessels after a two-year break due to the pandemic.” 

“These cruise ships bring passengers from as far away as South Africa and Europe to enjoy the restaurants, attractions and events of Toronto and are an important and growing element of our tourism offering, contributing more than $6 million annually. It’s wonderful to see these majestic ships back in our harbor with approximately 40 more on their way this summer and fall.”

Viking Octantis will be joined by a sister ship in 2023, which will also be sailing the Great Lakes. 


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