The Port of Toronto welcomed its first cruise ship of the 2023 season on Friday, April 28, as Viking Octantis arrived, marking the start of the summer cruise season in the Great Lakes area.
Between May and October, more cruise ships than ever are expected to visit Canada’s largest city, bringing more than 22,000 passengers to enjoy all that Toronto has to offer.
Viking Octantis Arrives in Toronto for First Summer Call
Toronto has become a sought-after destination for Great Lakes cruising. The port expects to welcome 54 cruise ships this season, which started with Viking Octantis on April 28 and will conclude on October 23 with a visit from the Ponant expedition cruise ship Le Dumont D’Urville.
Expedition cruise ships like Viking Octantis will be a common sight in Toronto this year, for which the Great Lakes is an ideal sailing area in the summer.
Typically, these ships will remain in Toronto for one to three days, supporting the local economy by visiting restaurants, attractions, and shopping centers.
“The Port of Toronto is a popular urban jumping-off point for cruising adventures throughout the Great Lakes. From the cruise ship terminal, passengers are a quick five-kilometer drive to downtown, which has the shopping, theatre, sporting events, and restaurants you would expect in a world-class city,” said RJ Steenstra, President and CEO, PortsToronto.
In addition to boosting local tourism, entertainment, and hospitality sectors, cruising introduces guests to the far reaches of the Great Lakes and smaller towns and ports in Ontario, but also ports in the Northern United States. Cruising in the Great Lakes generated an economic value of over $120 million to the region’s ports and communities in 2022.
Cruise Lines and Ships Visiting the Port of Toronto
Viking Octantis‘ first call this year is followed by her sister ship, Viking Polaris, arriving on May 3. Viking Octantis will make six calls, and Viking Polaris will make eight calls at the Port of Toronto during the 2023 cruise season.
Other cruise lines and ships visiting Toronto between May and October 2023 include Hapag-Lloyd with the Hanseatic Inspiration, Pearl Seas Cruises with Pearl Mist, Ponant with Le Dumont D’Urville & Le Bellot, and Victory Cruise Lines with Ocean Navigator & Ocean Voyager.
“With the growing trend of exploration cruising, the Great Lakes cruising sector has seen a steady increase in both the number of ships as well as the number of passengers choosing to visit our region, and we expect to see this growth continue,” Steenstra continued.
Growing Popularity of Great Lakes Cruising
While cruise travelers often think of expedition sailings to far-off, exotic destinations like Antarctica or the North Pole, the Great Lakes have gained popularity in recent years as a closer-to-home cruise option on a smaller-sized ship.
The Great Lakes offer guests a wide variety of great things to see and do, including visiting vibrant cities, relaxed lakeside villages, stunning natural beauty, and a range of ports of call in Canada and the United States, such as Montreal, Toronto, Cornwall, Kingston, Niagara Falls, Detroit, Mackinac Island, Milwaukee, and more.
Cruising in the Great Lakes has seen a spike in interest in recent years, with Detroit reporting over 150,000 visitors to the region in 2022, more than ever before.