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Cruising The Great Lakes: Chicago To Toronto

  • 13 Days / 12 Nights
  • August to October

The mighty Great Lakes have played a vital role in the history and cultural fabric of North America for centuries. On this beautiful guided adventure, you’ll travel from Chicago to Toronto exploring the storied waters and unique cities and towns that have grown along their shores.

  • Round trip scheduled flights
  • Accommodation for 12 nights as specified
  • 28 meals on land and sea as specified
  • Air-conditioned motorcoach transportation
  • Services of a Tauck Tour Director
  • Private shore excursions

2024 Departure Dates

August 22nd & 29th; September 5th & 12th; October 3rd


Pricing Information

With airlines and hotels regularly introducing special offers, we’ve elected to not display pricing on our website. In order to ensure that we give you the most competitive price for the itinerary you’re interested in we’ll apply the best rates, promotions and offers that are available when we receive your enquiry. Please contact us via email, telephone or our websites ‘make an enquiry’, and we’ll endeavour to provide you with a tailor-made quotation within one working day.

Day 1

Arrive Chicago

Depart the UK on your chosen scheduled flight to Chicago, Illinois. Upon arrival, transfer independently to the Fairmont Chicago, Millenium Park. The rest of the day is yours to explore Chicago as you please, before starting your Tauck holiday tomorrow evening.

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park
Day 3

Art Institute or Millennium Park

You have a choice of two sightseeing tours this morning. Visit the celebrated Chicago Art Institute, a palatial Beaux Arts-style building on Michigan Avenue that houses more than 300,000 works of art and an architectural school that has had a profound influence on design in America; the landmark building debuted as part of the Chicago World Exposition in 1893, and a local guide will introduce you to its iconic features and extraordinary history. Alternatively, take a walking tour of Millennium Park (at a leisurely or active pace… you choose), inside the Loop, the central business district; built to welcome the 21st century, the park has become the city’s centerpiece with imaginative features like the bandshell Pritzker Pavilion, the Cloud Gate, a reflective sculpture, the Crown Fountain, an interactive video sculpture, and the Lurie Garden atop the world’s largest green roof. Spend the rest of the day exploring Chicago on your own.

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park (Breakfast included)
Day 4

Architectural cruise & embark ship

In 1871 the Great Chicago Fire burned a swath through the city center, erasing thousands of buildings and leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.  But the catastrophe left space for new generations of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and Mies van der Rohe to fire up their creativity, fueled by the city’s fabulous industrial wealth.  Get a dazzling, informative look at their legacy today on an architectural sightseeing cruise along the Chicago River, with a docent from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Learn about Chicago’s role in the development of skyscrapers, as you absorb the eclectic styles and histories of its landmark buildings, like the Tribune Tower, the Willis Tower, and the Wrigley Building, and the stories of the architects who built them.  Get a taste of the city’s famous stuffed, deep-dish pizza at the legendary Giordano’s Pizzeria. Embark Le Dumont d’Urville and begin your 7-night cruise as you sail for Muskegon, Michigan.

Day 5

Dutch treats in Michigan

Head out from Muskegon with your choice of activities. Discover Holland, an enclave of Dutch culture, complete with dikes, canals, tulip gardens, and Dutch architecture, settled by Dutch immigrants in the 19th century. Its array of downtown shops even includes a wooden shoe factory. Visit Windmill Island Gardens, which features a working 250-year-old windmill brought from the Netherlands; the historical district, and the scenic Hope College campus, established in 1851 by the Dutch Calvinists who built the town; Holland is on the National Register of Historic Places. Or travel to nearby Saugatuck to experience the giant sand dunes that line the shores of Lake Michigan; dunes as high as 200 feet rise along an area of woods and beachfront on privately owned land, where you can ride through the scenic, wind-carved landscape in a modified Jeep vehicle on a fast-paced, exciting ride with an experienced guide*, and learn about its natural history and ecology. Return to the ship and sail for Traverse City on the shore of Lake Michigan’s Great Traverse Bay.

Day 6

Traverse City

Today you have the opportunity to choose from two unique shore excursions as we arrive in Traverse City. Join us at the Music House Museum, a treasure-house of working, antique automated music machines. Among the collection, you’ll find calliopes, nickelodeons, player pianos, a 1922 Amarylis (dance organ), a 1924 Wurlitzer theatre organ, air-powered music machines, and music boxes, and a reproducing piano used by Rachmaninoff and George Gershwin (though probably not at the same time). There are also recreations of a saloon, a lyric theatre, and a general store on the premises. Alternatively, you may choose to, head north to explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where miles of beaches and forest are dominated by immense sand dunes draped over the headlands, rising 400 feet above the waters of Lake Michigan in an awe-inspiring seascape. Following lunch, pay a visit to Brengman Brothers’ Vineyards for a tour and tasting. The area around Traverse City is one of Michigan’s primary wine-producing regions, where the sandy soil and lake climate are ideal for the Brengman Vineyards’ estate grapes such as Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, Pinot Gris, Chardonnays, and Pinot Noirs; tour the cellars, sample their award-winning wines, and learn about the brothers’ sustainable, organic methods of viticulture, which include sheep for weed control and guinea hens for insect control. Tonight sail for Mackinac Island, at the straits where Lake Michigan joins Lake Huron.

Day 7

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island has been a popular retreat since the 19th century when wealthy industrialists built imposing summer cottages here. The island restricts the use of motor vehicles; except in emergencies, the only way to get around is by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage. It also maintains its period look so well that it feels like a small town serenely lost in time. Take your choice of a carriage ride or a bicycle tour around the island, past impeccable Victorian mansions, the picture-postcard main street of quaint shops and confectioners, out to the fringes of forest, marshes and beaches, and Fort Mackinac, a 19th century military outpost. Lunch is at the palatial Grand Hotel that boasts the longest porch in the world (660 feet); since 1887, the hotel has entertained presidents and their wives; Mark Twain was a frequent guest, as was Thomas Edison… who gave the first demonstration of his phonograph on the porch. Don’t leave without sampling the Mackinac Fudge!

Day 8

Lake Huron

Spend the day sailing Lake Huron down the scenic east coast of Michigan toward Detroit. The eastern shore is called the Sunrise Coast, a long parade of beaches, sand dunes, inlets, small towns, and as many as 30 lighthouses. The vast freshwater lake also encompasses 30,000 islands. Enjoy the amenities aboard ship, which include an infinity pool with counter-current swimming system and transparent wall, fitness center, spa, sun deck, and panoramic lounge.

Day 9

Detroit sights & The Henry Ford

In and around Detroit you have a choice of activities. Get a guided tour of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village – a.k.a. The Henry Ford – in Dearborn… an amazing, award-winning, state-of-the-art museum with interactive exhibits dedicated to innovation, not just in machines, but in trailblazers who shaped the world we live in. In 9 acres of exhibition space you can step aboard the bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat; make yourself at home in Buckminster Fuller’s autonomous Dymaxion House; discover the science behind Pixar animation and motors that moved the nation; see the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop; Thomas Edison’s laboratory, Igor Sikorsky’s prototype helicopter, the house Henry Ford was born in, and the courthouse where Lincoln practiced law. Attached to the complex is Greenfield Village, a living museum with costumed interpreters, historic structures, and working steam locomotives.  Alternatively, take a guided sightseeing tour of Detroit’s famous landmarks, including the Motown Museum, a pair of modest houses where the record company was born in 1959; the Guardian Building, an art deco masterpiece; an eclectic art alley called the Belt; and the award-winning Campus Martius Park, “crossroads of downtown Detroit.” Return to the ship for lunch; tonight, sail for Toronto.

Day 10

Welland Canal

Sail Lake Erie to Port Colborn, then enter the Welland Canal, which links Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The 27-mile canal is a marvel of engineering which allows ships to bypass the Niagara River and Niagara Falls. Through a series of eight locks, your ship rises to a level high enough to cross over the Niagara Escarpment, sometimes called the Backbone of North America, a passage that takes about 11 hours. An onboard lecture on the canal and its history will be provided by a local expert on the locks. After passing through the cities of Welland, Thorold, and St. Catherines, the ship emerges into Lake Ontario at Port Weller.

Day 11

Disembark in Toronto & Niagara Falls

Disembark in Toronto, then drive to Niagara Falls, where you’ll see the awesome power of the falls up close aboard a private boat (raingear provided). The falls on the border between the US and Canada – Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls – pour 6 million cubic feet of water over their crests every minute, cascading down 170 feet and churning clouds of mist with a roar that can be heard for miles, a stirring experience you’ll never forget. Then a tour, tasting, and lunch await you in Niagara on the Lake at Chateau des Charmes winery, surrounded by rose gardens. Chateau des Charmes has won awards for its artisan wines, set in a region fast becoming known as an international wine destination. Return to Toronto and check in to your choice of downtown hotels, Fairmont Royal York or the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, and the evening is yours. The city is hip, and vibrant, and some of its best restaurants and nightlife are close by.
Fairmont Royal York, Toronto (Breakfast and lunch included)
Day 12


Take your choice of sightseeing excursions in Ontario’s remarkable capital today. A visit to the Royal Ontario Museum offers you the world under one roof, with 40 galleries and a collection of 6 million artifacts of art, culture, and natural history, from dinosaur fossils to African art, Egyptian treasures, South Asian culture, meteorites, giant totem poles, and Canadian history. Or visit the Ontario Art Gallery, housing 90,000 works of art from the first century to the present, including major works by Rodin, Picasso, Goya, Tintoretto, Degas, Rothko, and many more; not limited to paintings and sculpture, its collection includes historic objects, architecture, ship models, medieval illuminations, and video art.  Enjoy free time to explore Toronto on your own then join us this evening for a farewell reception followed by dinner at Casa Loma, a castle with Gothic towers and five acres of gardens in the city center, built-in 1911 as a fabulous, ostentatious residence for a wealthy financier.

Fairmont Royal York, Toronto (Breakfast and dinner included)
Day 13

Journey Home

Following check-out, you will be transferred to Toronto International Airport, Ontario for your flight back to the UK. Alternatively, you may choose to extend your stay in Toronto.

Get in Touch

Our team of travel professionals focus on providing you with the very best advice when it comes to planning your holiday to the USA and Canada. They have experienced the destinations, hotels, tours and excursions for themselves, so if its expert advice and guidance backed by faultless customer service that you are looking for, you couldn’t’ be in safer hands. We will listen to your wish list of ideas as well as add our own personal recommendations to create a unique itinerary, personalised just for you.

For a quotation based on your preferred travel date and to check availability please contact one of our team of professional consultants who will be happy to assist you.

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0333 323 9033 travel.agents@nats-uk.com

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