Here's some great news for lovers of the Great Lakes: Two small, high-end cruise ships - one new, the other newly refurbished - will make their debut next summer on the fresh-water waves of lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.
Here's some great news for lovers of the Great Lakes: Two small, high-end cruise ships -- one new, the other newly refurbished -- will make their debut next summer on the fresh-water waves of lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.
Travel Dynamics InternationalThe Clelia II will start seven-day cruises on the Great Lakes in June. The ship, built in 1990 for Renaissance Cruises (which went bankrupt in 2001), was most recently used as a private yacht. The ship, which has experienced numerous construction delays and was supposed to begin sailing this year, should be ready by early 2009, according to company spokeswoman Laura Oncea.
The water levels, which have rebounded this year thanks to above-average rain and snowfall, shouldn't be a problem for the new ships, according to Conlin, because these boats are smaller and built for tight spaces like the Welland Canal, which connects lakes Ontario and Erie. Conlin expects the new cruises to appeal to mature, veteran travelers who are looking for new, safe, easy-to-reach destinations.


George Papagapitos, president of Travel Dynamics, called the Great Lakes one of the most overlooked and underestimated cruise destinations. Conlin is particularly pleased that the Clelia II will sail all summer in the Great Lakes, unlike the Columbus and others that came in for just a few weeks in the early fall. Also unlike the Columbus, which attracted a largely European clientele, the new ships likely will be filled with primarily Americans and Canadians, according to Conlin. Oncea, with Pearl Seas, said many prospective passengers are sailors themselves, and already familiar with the Great Lakes.
When you look at the list of artists that came to Northeast Ohio during the 1980s, Cleveland seems like the epicenter for rock music it was long touted as. Travel Dynamics International, a small, high-end cruise company based in New York, purchased the ship early this year. The ship will sail one 10-night and one 11-night cruise between Toronto and Chicago in June and July.


Pearl Seas will likely add more Great Lakes itineraries in 2010, she said, based on already brisk sales for next year.
All sailings will offer educational themes, with speakers and seminars on topics from the lakes' geology to the War of 1812. The addition of the Clelia II and the Pearl Mist come a year after the Germany company Hapag-Lloyd Cruises pulled its popular Columbus from the Great Lakes, in part because of declining water levels. A golf theme is scheduled for late August; CBS News journalist Bill Geist is the guest lecturer on the inaugural sailing.
The 423-passenger ship, larger by far than other recent ships in the region, is now sailing in Europe (though a spokeswoman for the company doesn't rule out an eventual return to the Great Lakes).



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