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Mackinac Island, Michigan

A Voyage Along the Great Lakes – with Smithsonian Journeys

Milwaukee - Toronto - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Le Champlain
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Set sail aboard Le Champlain for an 8-day cruise to discover the Great Lakes amidst the splendid colors of autumn. Depart from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the United States’ “brew city,” and begin your voyage by sailing the length of Lake Michigan, a veritable inland sea, following in the footsteps of the region’s indigenous Americans, first settlers, and trappers. On Mackinac Island, explore the island’s Victorian past by horse and buggy before continuing to Sault Ste. Marie, where you will have the opportunity to transit the engineering marvel of the Soo Locks for a foray into Lake Superior. From your call in Port Colborne, you will be able to see the impressive Niagara Falls. You will end in cosmopolitan and dynamic Toronto, Ontario, on the shore of Lake Ontario.
Views on Mackinac IslandDetroit, Michigan at DuskStunning Niagara FallsBuilding in downtown Toronto - Ontario, CanadaSpectacular Canadian viewsToronto at nightBeautiful Toronto SkylineMackinac Island, Michigan
  • Explore the five Great Lakes of North America, between the U.S. and Canada
  • Visit charming Mackinac Island with its preserved Victorian architecture
  • Learn the history of the indigenous Americans before European colonization
  • Visit the magnificent Niagara Falls
  • Cruise along the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Georgian Bay
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Milwaukee | Embark

Nested on the shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, the largest city in the State of Wisconsin, harmoniously combines tradition and modernity. Industrial long ago, the city, known as Brew City because of its old breweries renowned all over the world, is experiencing a certain renaissance. While warehouses have given way to restaurants, bars, theatres, and art galleries in the city center, the district still retains traces of its manufacturing past. Further south lies Chicago, the economic centre of the Midwest, with an interesting mix of natural and urban landscapes: its immense skyscrapers, diverse architecture, many parks, and magnificent beaches make the city a popular destination.

Day 2: Sailing Lake Michigan | Mackinac Island

Sail the United States’ largest freshwater body, which gave its name to Michigan, one of the four states that border this lake measuring 500 km long and 200 km wide. The first colonists settled in the south at the end of the 17th century, on the site of the current megalopolis of Chicago. Wild landscapes of forests with sparkling colors, cliffs, golden sandy beaches and dunes as far as the eye can see stretch along its 2,600 km of shoreline. In the north, magnificent wind-swept islands rise out of the lake’s emerald waters. At 8 km long, the Mackinac Bridge, which spans the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, is one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. 

Close to the banks of Lake Huron in the State of Michigan, Mackinac Island promises a real journey through time. Originally inhabited by Amerindians, then occupied by French and British colonists, this small island measuring only a few km² still retains an atmosphere of yesteryear today, with its Victorian-style buildings and elegant horse-drawn carriages. Fort Mackinac, on the heights of the island, is a reminder of the conflicts that punctuated the history of this strategic place, a former fur trade center. In addition to this scenery from the past, the island offers magnificent fine sandy beaches and is home to one of the oldest National Parks in the United States.​

Day 3: Sault Ste. Marie

Located to the east of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Separated from its Canadian twin city by St. Marys River, it is famous among other things for its locks, known as either the Sault Locks or the Soo Locks, which enable ships to travel the meters in change in elevation between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. These locks, which date back over 160 years, are considered the most important in the world due to their shipping traffic. Make sure you visit the Museum Ship Valley Camp where you can visit the interior of a former freighter that sailed on the Great Lakes for more than 50 years.

Day 4: Little Current

A small port town located along the North Channel of Lake Huron, Little Current is considered to be the gateway to Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. The town’s emblematic construction, the Little Current Swing Bridge built in 1913, provides the only land access to the island, peaceful lands whose name means “the island of spirits” in the local dialect. A real haven of peace, sheltering wild nature and some hamlets, the place is ideal for outdoor activities such as horse-riding and hiking.

Day 5: Parry Sound | Sailing Lake Huron

The charming city of Parry Sound enjoys an exceptional natural setting in the heart of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, east of Georgian Bay. A holiday destination favored by the province’s inhabitants, the city and its surroundings offer a condensed version of all that the Great Lakes region has to offer: windswept forests of conifers, rocky shores characteristic of the Canadian Shield, beaches of fine sand, clear and calm waters producing magnificent reflections that change with the time of day and luminosity. A real paradise for fauna and flora, the place delights fans of nature and photography. 

A natural border between the American State of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, Lake Huron is one of the five American Great Lakes and one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Comprising the main lake, Saginaw Bay, the North Channel, and Georgian Bay, and home to around 30,000 islands, it offers varied coastal landscapes and unique views. From your ship, admire the wild beauty of the wooded and at times craggy coastline of Manitoulin Island, or the spectacular cliffs of the Bruce Peninsula.

Day 6: St. Clair River | Sailing through Detroit

Forming a natural line of separation between the United States and Canada, the St. Clair River, which flows from Lake Huron into Lake St. Clair, is a significant element of the Great Lakes Waterway. Used in the 18th century for the fur trade by the French colonists of North America who sailed it on small boats to trade with the Amerindians, it was then traveled by freighters transporting lumber, iron ore, and copper from the Great Lakes region to the cities of the Rust Belt.

During your navigation along the Detroit River, an important commercial waterway linking Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron, sail along with the largest city in Michigan. Enjoy panoramic views over the skyscrapers of the former Motor City, the jewel of the automotive industry, Fordism, and Motown music in the 20th century. Admire the Ambassador Bridge, which spans the river and enables access to Windsor, on the Canadian shore of the river. This steel suspension bridge, over two kilometers long, was constructed in 1929. This bridge alone carries over 25% of trade between the United States and Canada.

Day 7: Sailing Lake Erie | Port Colborne

Located to the south of Lake Huron and connected to Lake Ontario by the Welland Canal, Lake Erie, which owes its name to one of the Amerindian tribes which peopled its banks before the arrival of the French in the 17th century, is remarkable for its unique ecosystem. Its shallow fish-filled waters make it an excellent fishing spot, while its banks, famous for their many migratory birds, attract photographers and ornithology enthusiasts.

Port Colborne is a small port city located in southern Ontario, at the mouth of the Welland Canal. It is well-known for one of the longest locks in the world: measuring 420 meters, this lock, the 8th in the canal, has an observation footbridge and marks the final transit point before the Erie Canal. In addition to the discovery of this tremendous hydraulic infrastructure, this port of call is your privileged access point to the famous Niagara Falls, renowned all over the world for its spectacular beauty. Located on the river of the same name, which means “water thunder” in the Amerindian language, these wonders of nature are among the most powerful waterfalls in the world.

Day 8: Toronto | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
The largest city in Canada and capital of the province of Ontario, Toronto fascinates as much by its incredible diversity as by its size. Make sure you visit the CN Tower, the tallest tower in the western hemisphere, as well as St. Lawrence Market whose stalls reflect the multicultural wealth of this city known as the global city. Not far from there, the historic Distillery District unveils its brick-paved streets imbued with romantic charm and its myriad of small restaurants, cafés, boutiques, theatres, and art galleries. The Royal Ontario Museum and its impressive collections devoted to the world’s natural and cultural history is also an unmissable stop during this port of call.


Le Champlain

Le Champlain Pool
Ponant Sauna
Swimming pool

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$6,980 2-3 travelers
Rates are dynamic and fluctuate based on capacity. Contact us for a specific quote.
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Deluxe Stateroom
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with French window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 4
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 5
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
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Deluxe Suite
Area: 27 m². 6m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower. Up to 3 passengers per cabin.
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Prestige Suite Deck 5
Area: 38 m². 8m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
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Prestige Suite Deck 6
Area: 38 m². 8m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
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Privilege Suite
Area: 32 m². 8m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower. Up to 4 passengers per cabin.
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Grand Deluxe Suite
Area: 45 m². 30m² private balcony with sliding bay windows. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower + bathtub.
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Owner's Suite
Area: 45 m². 30m² private balcony with hot tub and sliding bay windows. King-size or twin beds and shower + bathtub.


Please Note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and subject to change without notice.
  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite. 
  • Transfers and luggage handling from the airport in Milwaukee to the ship on the day of embarkation
  • One included shore excursion in each port of call (see “Itinerary” for more information and choice of excursions, if applicable)
  • Transfer from the ship to the airport in Toronto at the end of the cruise on the morning of disembarkation
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Optional Excursions - Ponant allows you to pre-book your excursions approximately six to two months prior to the cruise* departure. Please note that this is subject to change. Please contact us for more details.
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions
  • CDP recommends that every Traveler has full and adequate travel insurance covering the risks of cancellation, assistance being required, repatriation, damages to and loss of baggage, and medical expenses


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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
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