1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. St. Lawrence Cruise Lines
  4. St. Lawrence Cruise Lines Cruise Reviews

5 St. Lawrence River Cruise Reviews

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
Hubby and I recently returned from a delightful six night, actually two - three night cruises aboard the Canadian Empress, the one and only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines company. We cruised from Kingston, Ontario to Montreal and ... Read More
Hubby and I recently returned from a delightful six night, actually two - three night cruises aboard the Canadian Empress, the one and only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines company. We cruised from Kingston, Ontario to Montreal and back through the Thousand Islands and several locks and canals of the St. Lawrence Seaway. We drove to the port. You could drop off your luggage when you arrived in Kingston. The company had arrangements with some of the local hotels for secure parking. Embarcation was easy and all were onboard in minutes - easy to do with only 32 passengers. The Canadian Empress is a replica of a river boat, including pressed tin ceilings. It is a small ship that can accommodate up to 66 passengers and 12 crew. All rooms are compact - think small inside cabins on the big cruise ships. All cabins are outsides and have windows that actually open. Most cabins have two twin beds, one of them folds up into the wall during the day for more floor space. There are a few rooms with a double bed. The Grand Salon is where all meals are served, where the bar is located and evening entertainment is held. This room could have felt crowded if the ship had been sailing full or if there had been a greater need for dry space outside of one's cabin. There are covered outside decks at both the front and aft of the ship. The top deck is aptly called the Sun Deck. There are lounge and deck chairs to enjoy the views along the St. Lawrence. There is also shuffle board and checkers available to play. Meals were wonderful. As with most cruises there was always plenty of food. Breakfast featured one entrEe but there were other options, including the fresh baked muffins that were marvelous. Lunch was a fixed menu each day but there was ample food if you didn't like part of the menu. There were two meat selections offered each night - you selected it the night before, but it was only so the cook, Joe, would have an idea how much of each to prepare. Half portions were available at each meal. There were always snacks and beverages available and the bar was rarely closed. Each evening there was some sort of prepared snack during the evening's entertainment. I was impressed with the healthy variety of the menu. Every member of the crew has multiple jobs on this ship. They were all very friendly and interactive with the passengers. Often the Captain, Mate and Engineer ate dinner with the passengers as we were already docked for the night. The CD/Purser was busy helping with meal service and getting the evening's entertainment set up. Tours of the wheel house and engine room were easy to arrange if you wanted to see them up close. Excursions along the way - usually local museums with history of the St. Lawrence or Canada - were included in the cruise fare. Our favorite was the Upper Canada Village, a recreated 1800's village. Some of these buildings were moved to this location prior to the flooding that created the St. Lawrence. Evening entertainment was team trivia, a magician and a musician, one each night of each cruise. At various times there was commentary about what we were viewing at the time with some of the Seaway history included. We were also each given a booklet copy of these narrations. Whenever we met another commercial ship the captain would announce its name, type of cargo and other information about it. Passengers were older, generally well travelled couples. (DH and I were the "babies", although not my much, on the first half and we're in our early sixties.) All were friendly and looked out for one another. On-board friendships developed quickly. We took this cruise because we wanted to do something different. We also have wanted to see the 1000 Islands and were not disappointed with the scenery. This was also our time to relax before starting the fall schedule so the laid back atmosphere was just what we wanted. We will consider cruising on the Canadian Empress again sometime in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
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
Very little has been written about the Canadian Empress so we approached our trip with little or no information about the ship or the cruise itself.This is a small ship, the only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruises company.  it is ... Read More
Very little has been written about the Canadian Empress so we approached our trip with little or no information about the ship or the cruise itself.This is a small ship, the only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruises company.  it is headquartered in Kingston, Ontario, and sails a summer schedule of trips of various lengths along the St. Lawrence Seaway.   Our trip began in Kingston and ended in Ottawa.   We flew into Ottawa, spent two nights at the wonderful Chateau Laurier and then took the train down to Kingston about two and a half hours.   We spent one night in Kingston.  A nice little town but not worth more than one night.  Great B&B there The Frontenac Club Inn.We boarded the ship at 5:30 p.m.   The ship is very punctual.  No boarding early and it departs right at 6:30 p.m.  Guests should plan accordingly.The Empress accommodates 60 passengers.  Our trip over Canada Day and 4th of July had 31 guests.  The cruise director described this as a "light" summer.   The ship is running about half capacity for most of its trips.   While this is difficult for the company, it's great for the passengers.    The normal two seatings were merged into one.   There was an abundance of extra seats on the upper deck and other outside areas.    As we had two days of rainy, fairly cold weather, this was a real plus.CABINS As you would expect, the cabins are small.   There are several with double beds but most have two bunks, one that folds down during the day.   Toilet must be pumped.   Overall, we did not find the size to be a problem.   We were, however, ready to get off after 5 nights and looked forward to our king bed!   The attendant was excellent and the room and the ship overall are very well maintained and very clean.FOOD The hospitality crew on the ship rotates.  We had Joe as chef and he was outstanding.  Really, really good food.   Lots of fresh vegetables, 2 fish entrees that were very good, and a prime rib as good as I've ever had.  The highlight, unfortunately, was Joe's breads and pastries.  Homemade bread with every meal, including breakfast and an apple pie to die for.  No complaints.ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT   The ship makes at least one stop a day along the St. Lawrence for a tour.  Given the places available, they do a pretty good job.  The best, without question, was the tour of the Upper Canada Village, Canada's Williamsburg.   Surprisingly, the school bus tour of the animal park in Montebello was great fun, mostly due to the antics of the passengers who really got into the trip in spite of a misting rain and temps in the 60's.   The least interesting was the tour of Montreal, largely due to the guide, who told jokes and did not seen so interested in sharing the history or the sites of the city.  A disapointment.The evening's entertainment was actually quite good all brought in from the local area and all who sought to capture the Canadian spirit, with a few American tunes along the way.   The last night's "dance band", a trio, led to a lively evening of dancing, singing and fun.PASSENGERS Given the size of the ship and the vageries of the weather, this cruise is more dependent than most on the make-up of the passengers.  We were very lucky.  A great group which ran the gamut from a very successful real estate developer, several retired foreign service couples, a fireman and a realtor.   The vast majority of passengers were retired, age 65 and above but they were lively, informed, and full of zest.   WOULD WE DO IT AGAIN?   This was a very nice trip, again largely due to the fellow passengers, the great food, and the scenery.  The Thousand Islands are beautiful and best seen from the water.   There were a number of repeat passengers on the ship.   I don't know as I would do it again but I did feel we more than got our money's worth and we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Seaway.   Just be aware this is not the typical cruise experience.   Go in with reasonable expections and they will be exceeded. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
First let my say we went with no expectations.We knew the ship was small and the cabins were small.One bed folds up on the wall during the day to give more room.Hanging space is very limited.Cabins 34 and 35  have a double bed (well not ... Read More
First let my say we went with no expectations.We knew the ship was small and the cabins were small.One bed folds up on the wall during the day to give more room.Hanging space is very limited.Cabins 34 and 35  have a double bed (well not really)If you are over 5' 9" you hit the wall at each end and the curve of the hull on one side takes away more space.You need to crawl over the other person to get in/out of bed.The age of the passengers was from mid 50's to 90, most were over 70.We had 30 passengers on our cruise and we were two of the younger ones (61 & 62).ACTIVITIES:Daily puzzles,Trivia, bingo, shuffleboard, nightly entertainment, shore excursions Entertainment was good with local talent. We had a magician, a guitarist/singer, a flutist and guitarist,  a comedian/guitarist and a trio. Shore trips included in the cruise were: Fulford Mansion in Brockville, Fort Wellington in Prescott, Old Montreal and trip to the Cosmosdome, Upper Canada Village, trip to the 1000 Island Skydeck and lots of locks during the trip.FOOD:The meals were fair to good.Breakfast was one special of the day plus  cold cereal, oatmeal, toast, muffins, juices, fruit.Lunch was usually a hot meal with soup or a small salad. (no choice of entrees)One day we had hamburger buffet with several salad choices.For dinner you had two choices which you chose the night before.Late night snack consisted of small hot or cold hors-d' oeuvresMuffins, coffee, tea, lemonade or iced tea were available during the day at the self serve station.Food portions were small and quality was inconsistent. Sometimes the food was not cooked well or overcooked. Vegetables were usually mushy and overcooked.A couple of the fish meals tasted off and smelled fishy (fresh fish should not smell).If you do not like either of the dinner or lunch entree they have no provisions for a substitute meal.Drink prices were very reasonable and soft drinks were free.PROS: The crew was very good. Ted the bartender and Marc the purser made a good team.Small ship, relaxing cruise.CONS:Not much time in port, just enough for the excursionsFood portions & selections They need to start marketing to the younger seniors. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click