Canadian Empress Review

Editor Rating:  2.5
64% of cruisers loved it

Why Choose Canadian Empress?

  • Riverboat experience offering Victorian-era vibe
  • Tours included in fare on destination-focused cruises
  • Prompt, courteous and efficient services
Canadian Empress

Canadian Empress Overview

Canadian Empress is a riverboat that, while built in 1981, attempts to replicate a Victorian era atmosphere. And it works, not just in decor but in onboard ambiance, ultimately offering a cruise experience that for most of us -- particularly big ship ocean-cruising aficionados -- could seem somewhat precious and quaint.

But wait. You may be in for a very pleasant surprise. True, Canadian Empress, which hails from the one-ship (and family-owned and -operated) St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, isn't fancy. Cabins have no balconies, marble bathrooms with fancy amenities (bring your own shampoo) or in-cabin televisions. In fact, you have to book pretty early just to get a cabin with a double bed (aside from a handful that are so equipped, otherwise, all cabins have single beds). Meals are a communal -- though casual -- affair; dining is at set hours and you order off a set menu (with at most two entree choices) though you can choose your tablemates. And entertainment is provided -- not by casino or elaborate lounge acts -- but, as befits the ship's laidback atmosphere -- by a series of performers, ranging from a musicians to a comedian/songster that hold forth for two hours each night in the grand salon (dining room-reading room-show lounge-bar).

On Canadian Empress, the real focus was on our destinations -- on our trip the ship sailed the venerable St. Lawrence Seaway, which straddles Ontario and Quebec, Canada, and New York State. There was much emphasis on educational touring. Beyond that, crew worked very hard -- and it must be said succeeded mightily! -- in creating a wonderful onboard camaraderie for people who genuinely want to mix-n-mingle. So while a trip on Canadian Empress might not be a great choice for solitude seekers or honeymooners (or young kids), it's a marvelous experience for those who really want to learn something from the cruise they take -- and make some lifelong friends in the bargain.

Canadian Empress sails two- to six-night itineraries between May - October along the St. Laurence Seaway cruise. Starting ports include Kingston, Montreal and Quebec City.

Canadian Empress Fellow Passengers

Passengers by and large hailed from Canada or the U.S. (with a few Germans and Britons in the mix). Most were well traveled and, age-wise, well past retirement. Interestingly, many of them were devoted river cruisers who'd never even considered travel on a contemporary ocean-going cruise ship.

Canadian Empress Dress Code

There's really no dress code - casual wear is the watchword. There are no formal nights though people did dress a bit more spiffy (business casual) on the cruise's last evening.

Canadian Empress Gratuity

A gratuity of $10 per person, per day is recommended and passengers settle up via tip envelopes on the voyage's last day. You can also charge tips to a credit card.
Next:  Canadian Empress Cabins

17 Canadian Empress Reviews from our Cruise Critic Community

Start your review of Canadian Empress
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MarEd0396
Member Since 2017
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
My husband wanted to follow the St. Lawrence by car until I located this cruise thru AARP. We have done a lot of cruising on large ships, but found the Canadian Princess cruise to be more intimate and lots of fun. The cabins aren't ... Read more
Fun Run
Member Since 2016
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
Sailed July 2016
It was a hoot. I am not a big fan or expert on cruises having been on two others Holland America and Norwegian, trust me friends this is neither. It is a 50 year old reproduction of a 1890-1910 river cruise ship. The rooms are tiny, ... Read more
mcgrath45123
Member Since 2016
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
W have cruised extensively on 4 continents and know the difficulties of comparing what can be very different experiences.This little one ship ship cruise line attempts to step back in time a little ind delivered everything as promised, ... Read more

17 Canadian Empress Reviews from our Cruise Critic Community

Start your review of Canadian Empress
Click to rate
MarEd0396
Member Since 2017
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
My husband wanted to follow the St. Lawrence by car until I located this cruise thru AARP. We have done a lot of cruising on large ships, but found the Canadian Princess cruise to be more intimate and lots of fun. The cabins aren't ... Read more
Fun Run
Member Since 2016
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
Sailed July 2016
It was a hoot. I am not a big fan or expert on cruises having been on two others Holland America and Norwegian, trust me friends this is neither. It is a 50 year old reproduction of a 1890-1910 river cruise ship. The rooms are tiny, ... Read more
mcgrath45123
Member Since 2016
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
W have cruised extensively on 4 continents and know the difficulties of comparing what can be very different experiences.This little one ship ship cruise line attempts to step back in time a little ind delivered everything as promised, ... Read more
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