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12 St. Lawrence Quebec City Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise due to location and an opportunity to combine it with a stay in the old walled part of Quebec City. The boat is modeled after a river steamboat of the early 1900s and is architecturally interesting. The cabins are ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to location and an opportunity to combine it with a stay in the old walled part of Quebec City. The boat is modeled after a river steamboat of the early 1900s and is architecturally interesting. The cabins are tiny with no storage other than three very small drawers [one under one of the bunk beds] and the other two in a small night table, as well as the floor space under the beds. The beds are narrow, like the width of a camp cot, so this sleeping arrangement would not be suitable for anyone of a large size. Nor would anyone who is exceptionally tall be comfortable in the bed as it is hemmed in by the wall. There is a pleasant covered deck at the rear of the boat as well as an open deck for the top level. Inside there is one room that serves as the common space for meals, entertainment, and gathering. The meals are average--some better than others. Both lunch and dinner consisted of a meat/poultry/fish with a vegetable and a starch; I felt that the lunches would be better served as soup and sandwich, chef's salad, cold or hot buffet--namely, since this group draws an older clientele, two meals that are essentially dinners are neither needed nor often wanted. There is always coffee and tea available along with muffins freshly baked. The evening entertainment was superb and used local talent along the route. The crew was courteous, helpful, and overall efficient and professional. The shore excursions [all included] added to the knowledge gained as did the Log Book issues to each passenger. The trip along the St.Lawrence offers many beautiful views. This cruise is not suitable for children or teenagers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The accommodation was dilapidated, cramped and odourous. We were instructed to leave the bathroom fan on at all times, for room ventilation, hence a roaring sound from the fan and air conditioning, the entire trip. In addition there was a ... Read More
The accommodation was dilapidated, cramped and odourous. We were instructed to leave the bathroom fan on at all times, for room ventilation, hence a roaring sound from the fan and air conditioning, the entire trip. In addition there was a constant roar from the engines, which seemed to be located under our cabin. There was no seating provided in the cabin other than a hard folding chair, or the tiny hard bed which was a board with a thin spring filled mattress on it. I asked for an extra blanket so I could pad the mattress against the poking springs. We sacrificed floor space to keep the second bed, which could be folded up against the wall, in the down position, since the hard chair did not seem to be a viable option for relaxing. Even with the noise in the cabin, it was preferable to the din in the "grand salon" which was deafening at times. From the description of the boat, I pictured a replica steamship with some padded seats and draperies, but such was not the case. I want to emphasize that the staff were exceptional, and worked themselves to a frenzy, serving in the dining room then cleaning rooms and toilets in between. This cruise is not suitable for disabled people, of whom there were plenty. There are stairs and ramps to maneuver without assistance from the crew. I found it a bit disconcerting that when we were lined up to get the key for our room, that we were also given a "contract" to sign. The contract released the company from any conceivable mishap. It was only later, when I read the contract, that I understood there would be no assistance for disabled people. This did not make a difference to me, but there were people who disembarked early because of the difficulty they encountered getting up and down the stairs (the cabins were downstairs, meals and disembarkation planks were upstairs). It would have made a massive difference to our potential travelling companions who, thankfully, cancelled early. I do not believe anyone read the 2 page, fine print contract before signing, as other passengers were in the lineup waiting to get the keys to their "cabin". There was only a small outer deck, at the back of the ship, that was a sheltered place to sit. It only had about 12 chairs for about 60 passengers. The top deck space, although it had more chairs, was unsheltered from all types of weather. Only the last half of the cruise on the river was really scenic as the river is just too wide to be able to see much on the shore. I would recommend a shorter trip around the Thousand Islands for anyone who wants to see the scenery. The cruise experience from Quebec City to Kingston on the Canadian Empress was just not worth the discomfort. This trip was not a bargain by any stretch of the imagination! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
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
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, Because of its small size and the route through some very busy waterways there is a real sense of identification with the St..Lawrence river and it's history. The ship is over 30 years old but appears to be in good shape thanks to ongoing maintenance and the fact it operates only 4 months or so a year. Would suggest it is time to change some berth mattresses and renovate cabin windows as some are ddifficult to open. Our guest service crew were delightful; young, energetic with a nice mix of formality and casualness .The officers were approachable and well informed. Sailing on the Canadian Empress iis really a unique experience..Our party of 6 had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with ... Read More
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with small but reasonably comfortable cabins. We paid extra for the Premier Cabins, a huge mistake, see below. The ship itself is extremely small. The only enclosed public space is the dining room which doubles as the bar and lounge. It is barely large enough to accommodate all of the passengers. The kitchen is extremely small, making it difficult for the cooks to prepare food in a timely manner. We had two services for lunch and dinner with half of the dining room set up for meals and the other half set up as a lounge. Half the passengers literally watch the other half eat because there is nowhere else to go on the ship. It was too cool to lounge on deck and the cabins are claustrophobic. The few times they attempted to serve everyone at one time emphasized the kitchens limitations. It took over an hour and a half from salad to dessert for the Captains Dinner despite the best efforts of the chefs and servers. I should note, the crew from the captain on down did everything they could to make up for the ship. They were friendly, accommodating and hardworking, but were fighting a losing battle. Food was good but the cooks were clearly hampered by the size of the kitchen. The entertainment was also handicapped by the space limitations. For example, the last evening we had a dance featuring a local trio. In order to set up for the dance they asked the passengers to clear the dining room and either visit the bridge or go to their cabins while the crew set up for the dance. Neither option was particularly enticing given the time of night or the size of the cabins. Land tours were interesting but limited. Transportation was via school buses and the ships schedule did not allow for much free time in port. Internet was available only in the main dining room and streaming services like Facebook were blocked. The internet was weak or nonexistent at times but that is not unusual on river cruises. There is no TV service on board. Overall, I would not recommend this cruise. Another cruise line might be an alternative but given our experience I'd suggest driving the route and staying in hotels along the way. The river towns including Montreal and Quebec offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations and you are in view of the river most of the way. There are numerous day cruises available in various ports if you want to sight see from the river. Clearly, for what we paid for "premium rooms" we could have stayed in five star hotels for a seven day road trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with ... Read More
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with small but reasonably comfortable cabins. We paid extra for the Premier Cabins, a huge mistake. We selected the Premier cabins, 24 and 25 and paid a premium for the extra space. What a joke! The cabin was small with a double bed against a wall requiring that the inside occupant crawl out the foot of the bed or over the outside occupant when getting up. Not an easy task for older passengers. At best the cabin could be described as shabby, the furnishings and the cabin itself had all seen better days. The cabins were located directly over the bow thrusters which were extremely noisy, a special delight when leaving port at 4:30 AM. There were portholes, not windows in the cabin which were locked shut and could not be opened without tools and certainly could not be opened when sailing. The real horror was the bathroom, it was barley large enough to sit on the john and the shower was extremely tight. The toilets were marine toilets that evacuated into a holding tank that emitted an odor that required you to run the bathroom fan continuously and to close the shower drain with a supplied cover. There is no TV or internet available in the ships cabins. The ship itself is extremely small. The only enclosed public space is the dining room which doubles as the bar and lounge. It is barely large enough to accommodate all of the passengers. The kitchen is extremely small, making it difficult for the cooks to prepare food in a timely manner. We had two services for lunch and dinner with half of the dining room set up for meals and the other half set up as a lounge. Half the passengers literally watch the other half eat because there is nowhere else to go on the ship. It was too cool to lounge on deck and the cabins are claustrophobic. The few times they attempted to serve everyone at one time emphasized the kitchens limitations. It took over an hour and a half from salad to dessert for the Captains Dinner despite the best efforts of the chefs and servers. I should note, the crew from the captain on down did everything they could to make up for the ship. They were friendly, accommodating and hardworking, but were fighting a losing battle. Food was good but the cooks were clearly hampered by the size of the kitchen. The entertainment was also handicapped by the space limitations. For example, the last evening we had a dance featuring a local trio. In order to set up for the dance they asked the passengers to clear the dining room and either visit the bridge or go to their cabins will the crew set up for the dance. Neither option was particularly enticing given the time of night or the size of the cabins. Land tours were interesting but limited. Transportation was via school buses and the ships scheduled did not allow for much free time in port. Internet was available only in the main dining room and streaming services like Facebook were blocked. The internet was weak or nonexistent at times but that is not unusual on river cruises. There is no TV service on board. Overall, I would not recommend this cruise. Another cruise line might be an alternative but given our experience I'd suggest driving the route and staying in hotels along the way. The river towns including Montreal and Quebec offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations and you are in view of the river most of the way. There are numerous day cruises available in various ports if you want to sight see from the river. Clearly, for what we paid for "premium rooms" we could have stayed in five star hotels for a seven day road trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Smooth sailing!! We were so fortunate to have 24 people on board (capacity is 60 people per the cruise line literature). So easy to communicate with the staff and other passengers. St Lawrence Cruise Lines included all excursion costs ... Read More
Smooth sailing!! We were so fortunate to have 24 people on board (capacity is 60 people per the cruise line literature). So easy to communicate with the staff and other passengers. St Lawrence Cruise Lines included all excursion costs and gratuities for local guides and drivers in the base cost. This was certainly welcome. On board staff were tipped at the end of the cruise. Food was well prepared and cheerfully served with a variety of offerings during the cruise. Half portions and diabetic deserts were offered. Cabins are small, but fine for two people who go there to sleep and use the restroom (plenty of hot water for showers). The excursions were interesting, especially our visit to Upper Canada Village, and logistics were handled well. We were happy to have good weather, which facilitated visiting, watching the boat go through the locks, and reading, knitting, etc.. The evening entertainment includes a flute / guitar duo that provided much enjoyment. Good promotional information facilitated staying both in Quebec City and in Kingston, Ontario. Although the literature suggests dressing up for farewell dinner, in reality, we were able to just be comfortable. The crew seemed to be always busy keeping the boat clean and tidy and the wait staff / cabin attendants could not have been nicer. Maybe a different route next time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We did a six night cruise on the Canadian Empress from Quebec City to Kingston. While there were a few positive aspects, notably very good food and evening entertainment, overall this cruise did not come anywhere close to meeting our ... Read More
We did a six night cruise on the Canadian Empress from Quebec City to Kingston. While there were a few positive aspects, notably very good food and evening entertainment, overall this cruise did not come anywhere close to meeting our expectations. Other reviewers have commented on the small cabins, which is absolutely the case but we could have lived with that. However, we felt that the main problem is that the ship is old (35 years) and has not been maintained to an acceptable standard. Everything looks shabby and tired, and we experienced numerous mechanical problems which impacted our cruise experience. These included a power outage, lack of hot water, lack of cold water (depending on the day), and an engine problem that resulted in cancellation of one of the scheduled itinerary items. What bothered us most was that there were frequent sewage odors not just in our bathroom, but throughout the ship. We felt that the crew worked very hard to make our experience as pleasant as possible. However, we also felt that the ship is staffed at the absolute minimum level, meaning that the service was sometimes slow and cabins and common areas were not kept very clean. Given the price point, we were expecting much more and in our opinion, we did not get what we paid for. In fact, most of the other passengers whom we spoke to about their satisfaction with the cruise told us that they were also very disappointed and would not recommend this cruise to others. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We wanted to have a nice relaxing cruise together with our elderly parents. They are unable to leave Canada because of health reasons. We know that the St Lawrence Seaway is beautiful so it was a great idea. Unfortunately, there ... Read More
We wanted to have a nice relaxing cruise together with our elderly parents. They are unable to leave Canada because of health reasons. We know that the St Lawrence Seaway is beautiful so it was a great idea. Unfortunately, there were many disappointments: the boat is very old and not maintained. While we were on the boat the motor and generator were both having problems, The staff worked very hard to make the boat work and tried to hide the maintenance problems. We missed chances to see the beautiful scenery because of the boat's inability to work properly. There was a strong sewer smell and one room flooded (the people left the ship early). Another cabin's ceiling leaked onto their bed. The rooms are very small - there is not even enough room to put a suitcase in between the 2 single beds. The mattresses are very uncomfortable. The wifi was very intermittent. A new more roomy boat is badly needed. This cruise is very expensive - save your $ and go on a luxury cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
The cruise of the St. Lawrence River with the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines aboard the Canadian Empress was very disappointing. This is not an inexpensive cruise and one would expect first class service. However the opposite was true. The ... Read More
The cruise of the St. Lawrence River with the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines aboard the Canadian Empress was very disappointing. This is not an inexpensive cruise and one would expect first class service. However the opposite was true. The ship is too old and is beset with mechanical issues the largest of which is the ship's inability to deal with sewage. The boat reeked of sewage and the night cruise of Quebec City on our first night was cancelled due to mechanical issues. We could not hear the captain's explanation of the problem as the sound system was not working. The cabins are very small and ill equipped. Sometimes the showers worked sometimes not and one was never certain if you'd get hot or cold water. The sewage issues persisted throughout the cruise despite two pump outs!! We encountered some very heavy rain on our cruise and the ship had leakage issues as a result. Food is very good. The staff are good and did their best to cope with mechanical breakdowns which were out of their control. The ship could use more staff. Given the price point of this cruise I could not recommend it. It is not good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We boarded the Canadian Empress at Quebec City ready for our six night cruise up the St. Lawrence River/Seaway. We sailed to Trois Rivieres, Montreal, Upper Canada Village, Brockville, Gananoque, and finally disembarked in Kingston, ... Read More
We boarded the Canadian Empress at Quebec City ready for our six night cruise up the St. Lawrence River/Seaway. We sailed to Trois Rivieres, Montreal, Upper Canada Village, Brockville, Gananoque, and finally disembarked in Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian Empress is a replica steamboat to resemble those in the early 1900's. The rooms were very small, but big enough to manage once you had a routine set up. We had two twin beds, one of which could be put up during the day; however, we kept both of them down and it worked out fine. There were 48 passengers on our cruise and we got to know most of them by the end of the cruise. The hospitality staff was great. They served our meals and also made up our rooms. The meals were very good and varied. The galley staff took care of special dietary requests to the best of their ability. The navigation staff was very personable and knowledgable and you were able to talk with them at any time. Lorne, our cruise director, did a great job in moving things along, even though the ship had a small mechanical issue. For the most part, it did not affect any of our activities except for one. The land excursions were good, but I felt they were not long enough, however, we had to leave to get to the next port. So much of the travel on the river depended on marine traffic through the locks.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I have wanted to cruise in the 1000 Islands and on the St. Lawrence River for some time, so I have been looking at this cruise line for years! We finally got a date that worked! The cruise met all my expectations and then some. The small ... Read More
I have wanted to cruise in the 1000 Islands and on the St. Lawrence River for some time, so I have been looking at this cruise line for years! We finally got a date that worked! The cruise met all my expectations and then some. The small crew was fantastic! Although the cabins are very small, they are certainly adequate. And who wants to stay in the cabin when there was so much to see and do? The ports of call interesting. We learned a lot of history and fascinating facts about the areas. All the shore excursions were well organized. The Cruise Director joked about our "stretch limos". They were really school buses, but the rides were short. The food was delicious. They offered 1/2 portions, so that was a plus. I only gained 5 pounds! This is not a cruise for a family with small children. Most of the passengers were in the 60 to 80 range, most quite active. They were an interesting collection from many locations -- Canada, Texas, Australia, Hawaii, Florida, California, New York. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
While reading this review, keep several facts in mind. 1) My wife and I were by far the youngest of all the passengers (46 and 36). 2) I had never been to this area of the world before, so everything was exciting and new to me. 3) We were ... Read More
While reading this review, keep several facts in mind. 1) My wife and I were by far the youngest of all the passengers (46 and 36). 2) I had never been to this area of the world before, so everything was exciting and new to me. 3) We were accompanied by my in-laws (in their 60s). Good or bad, they were great to hang with and very good sports when the weather was less than perfect. 4) We are not cruise virgins having sailed on many large cruise ships to very exotic ports (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, etc.). Although, we were new to the river cruising club. That said, the cruise was excellent. We were told on the first night that our rooms would expand after six days and they did. We were warned that the food would be more than we could handle, and it was. We thought that we were more of the 'Loner' type, but made friends quickly and effortlessly. The excursions seemed interesting prior to sailing, but they were much more than that. First, the rooms...can you say petite? Can you say tiny? Can you imagine a room for two so small that you cannot both get dressed at the same time? I kid you not! We did have the least expensive of the rooms, but the others were not much larger if at all. This is where the old saying comes in, "you don't spend time in your room anyway except to sleep." You will get used to it after a couple of days. No use complaining because the staff understands already and do everything in their power to make it comfortable. Tip: pack very light. There isn't any room for a big bag and you cannot unpack into a closet or dresser. There isn't one! Second, the food was excellent. All cruise have good food I guess and this is no exception. My only reservation is that every meal is a big hot heavy production. Beautiful, yes. Delicious, absolutely. But sometimes all you want is a turkey sandwich. Ugh...ten pound gain later...back to the treadmill. Third, everyone on board is retirement age. The average was probably high 60s to low 70s (age not the weather temperature). Of these cruisers, they were all great and will be friends forever. There were only 39 total cruisers on board our trip. There were 11 staff including the captain and first mate. The ratio was great and people like Ted (shuffleboard master) made everything a joy (sorry had to get in a plug for my buddy). Overall, I would recommend this cruise line and ship to anyone (even you youngsters...hehehe). We traveled from Quebec City to Kingston which was beautiful. The 1000 islands and the Upper Canada Village were the highlights of the cruise. Tip: stay a couple of nights in Quebec City. It is beautiful, historic, and a great shopping destination. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
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