This was the Pearl Seas 10-11 day Great Lakes Cruise leaving from Toronto and stopping in Niagara
Falls, Windsor, Midland, Parry Sound, Little Current, Sault St Marie, Mackinac Island, Muskegon, Holland and Chicago.
We are 71 and 65 years of age and retired for 1 year. We previously have traveled to the Caribbean islands (x3), Hawaii cruise, Alaska cruise, Italy tour, Great Britain tour, Rhine Cruise, Baltic Cruise, Western Med Cruise, Greece Cruise, New England and Maritimes Cruise, National Parks tour, and China Tour. We chose this tour because we knew little of the region.
The ship: The Pearl Mist was a fairly new 300 ft boat in excellent condition with about 200 passengers. The state rooms were much larger than expected with balconies and a relatively large bathroom. beds were great, lots of drawer space, no safe, adequate TV but a bit small for watching from bed. The ship had 2 large and 2 small lounges. The large lounges were used every night for "The Cocktail Hour" (more on this later) and one was used each night for entertainment (2 person songsters). Also used for lectures and daily updates for the next day. Other than the dining room there were no other public rooms: no casinos (thankfully) and no laundry or indoor fitness center. Some people made special requests for laundry service. There was new fitness equipment on one of the open decks but no treadmill. There were several outdoor sitting areas both covered and uncovered but no pools or hot tubs. No deck encircled the ship for use as a walking/jogging track. Room service was perfect.
Entertainment: The duo provided very good music and song and also hosted trivia and bingo games. The lecturer was good but limited to very interesting historical information but not port/excursion specific information and only had about 4-5 presentations.
Dining: OMG totally fabulous!. All meals were sit down, single open sitting with excellent service. Each meal had at least 4 choices for entree and appetizer, 3 desserts, great soups. Lobster was served multiple ways several times. No limit on how many servings you could order. Unlimited wine/beer. Now dieting (again).
Cocktail Hour: Had to make a special section for this. Each day from 5:30-6:30 the 2 lounges were set up with hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and open bar. The bar tenders could make any drink and EVERYONE looked forward to sitting together and chatting about the day, next day and their previous cruising experience.
Passengers: Definitely and older crowd. No children. Youngest was probably 60yo. Oldest was close to 90yo. Average was about 70yo. most were incredibly well traveled. Many chose this cruise to get away from the heat in the south (but we still had 85-90 degree days). Most had traveled throughout Europe on river cruises. All were interesting, and had productive, and lucrative careers. Almost all were retired. A few singles.
Ports and Excursions: About half of the excursions were included and were quite surprisingly worthwhile. Some unexpectedly, were extra at $35-50 per person but also were well worth it. Highlights were bus/island tour of Toronto, the Niagara Falls cruise, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (look it up), Saint-Marie among the Hurons (look it up also), Island Queen Cruise of Georgian Bay, Sault St Marie locks, Freighter and old cruise ship tours, Mackinac Island and Chicago (take the architectural tour).
All in all a very good vacation. Improvements might be an indoor fitness center, larger TV, more lectures on the ship, possibly a hot tub.
We were sufficiently impressed to sign up for the Louis and Clark theme tour of the Snake and Columbia rivers on their sister organization, American Cruise Lines for August 2017.