courtesy of Mark Tre
No sooner had Cruise West gone out of business last month and the Great Lakes lost a planned 2011 season by its mooted 108-berth Spirit of America, now laid up in Seattle as Spirit of Glacier Bay, than last week Pearl Seas Cruises refused to take delivery of the 234-berth Pearl Mist, completed last year by Halifax Shipyards and now laid up at Shelburne, NS. Pearl Mist had been scheduled for a number of Great Lakes cruises between Toronto and Chicago in 2011.
It had been expected that Spirit of America and Pearl Mist would have made up for the slack created this summer when Travel Dynamics withdrew from Great Lakes cruising after having disposed of its 100-berth Clelia II to Orion Expedition Cruises of Australia.
Good news, however, comes from Blount Small Ship Adventures, previously American Canadian Caribbean Line, which this summer expanded its Great Lakes offerings, with a new series of canal and lake cruises between New York and Toronto, as well as lake cruises between Toronto and Midland, on Georgian Bay, with the 100-berth Grande Mariner.
Other speculation has been caused by reports that Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 420-berth Columbus, which is scheduled to return to the Great Lakes for a sold out season in 2011, has been offered for sale by brokers in Norway. However, since Columbus is actually owned by a German investment company and chartered to Hapag-Lloyd, this does not necessarily mean that Hapag-Lloyd will be disposing of the ship.
However, in her last Great Lakes season in 2007, as Columbus had problems with the US Department of Homeland Security bureaucrats that impacted on her smooth operation, as well as having low water difficulties at some lakes ports, the authorities there will have to be careful to retain its interest.
Meanwhile, a black horse in the future of Great Lakes cruising is the laid up steamship Norisle, a vessel that may be revived to carry 50 or 60 passengers on overnight cruises. The 1.400-ton vessel is a former Manitoulin Island ferry that has been laid up on Manitoulin Island for more than three decades. Her near sister ship Norgoma, which used to cruise in Georgian Bay and in fact was the first ship in which The Cruise People, Ltd. had a group in the early sixties, is now a museum ship at Sault Ste Marie.