The Canadian Empress is a replica of the old steam operated passenger riverboats that used to cruise in the Thousand Islands of the St Lawrence River. There are of course modifications for the 21st century, even WIFI, so our travel was more comfortable than it would have been in the early 19th century.
All travel is done in daylight hours, so you can maximize the scenery. We travelled from Quebec City to Kingston. Shore excursions usually take up a half day, including a bus tour of Montreal, a stop in Trois Rivieres with a bus to the shrine at Cap de la Madeleine, a visit to Upper Canada Village, a tour of Fulford Mansion in Brockville, and a trip up the Sky Tower on Hill Island from Gananoque. The remainder of the day you can sit on the upper deck or either of the covered stern or bow decks to watch the beautiful scenery go by. The pace is slow.
Dress is casual, comfortable and practical.
Chef Joe does amazing things in a very tiny galley. All meals are full service and the wait staff are great. There is a small bar at the end of the dining room with very reasonable pricing. On our trip beer and wine were included with meals but only $6 at other times. Bartender Matt was fantastic!
The purser Karen did a great job of keeping us organized and entertained. There was a daily puzzle, evenings had entertainment including a magician, a flute and classical guitar duo, Roger James a singer who defies categorization, a night playing team Trivial Pursuit, and because our trip covered both July 1 and 4, views of fireworks. The July 1 event in Montreal was especially unique as it is done over the water, right where we were moored.
Accessibility is an issue, as there are stairs.
There were travellers on our cruise using walkers or canes and they managed, but this is not a wheelchair accessible ship. Most passengers were seniors, but family groups included middle aged members. We all got along very well, and the age mixture was great. This is not a cruise for children or teens though. Physical activity is minimal on board, shuffleboard and walking the deck the extent of it.
Each cabin is very small but functional. Ours had twin beds, small but comfortable. The marine toilet operates as on most smaller vessels, with gravity flow and a foot pedal, a skill that is not hard to acquire. Shampoo and soap are provided but no lotions so bring your own. There is a hairdryer in each room and a power outlet. Windows are opening with screens, but there is also air conditioning and heat. (There are also cheaper cabins with non opening portholes)