St. Lawrence Seaway welcoming more cruise ships

·2 min read

May 25—MASSENA — If you think you're seeing more cruise ships navigating through the St. Lawrence Seaway this year, you're not imagining things.

Adam M. Tindall-Schlicht, administrator of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., says they've made a concerted effort to attract more cruise ships.

The latest cruise ships to pass through the Seaway system on Thursday were the Pearl Mist and Viking Polaris.

The Pearl Mist travels around all of the Great Lakes, offering voyages on Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. She can carry 210 passengers with a crew of 70. Her small size is described as a virtue, allowing the vessel to visit small ports that have to be skipped by larger vessels.

The Viking Polaris started sailing in 2022, with nearly 400 passengers on a typical sailing. The Viking Polaris has 260 crew members on board the six-deck ship, which offers a cruise of the Great Lakes and Canada.

Mr. Tindall-Schlicht said it's taken some time to get cruise ships like the Pearl Mist and Viking Polaris into the Seaway system.

"The cruise ship opportunity is something that we at the U.S. Seaway have worked on for 20 years to realize, and that's taken a tremendous amount of effort to make sure that cruise lines that want to enjoy the Great Lakes and really these itineraries are making stops everywhere from Massena, Quebec City, to Milwaukee, Green Bay and Duluth," he said.

"So, for the first time ever, cruise lines are hitting all five Great Lakes," he added.

Making that happen has been a coordinated effort, Mr. Tindall-Schlicht said.

"It's taken about 20 years of interdepartmental, local, state and federal coordination to make sure that those itineraries are thoroughly planned out and robust," he said.

That, in turn, has paid dividends for communities that have welcomed the cruise lines, he said.

"What I can tell you is the local port communities, harbors and other waterfront towns that are hosting these cruise ships are really rolling out the red carpet," Mr. Tindall-Schlicht said. "Those are the individuals who are doing the yeoman's work to make sure that cruise passengers have sophisticated, interesting and dynamic on-land excursions."

The Seaway's task is to make sure that locks are available when the cruise ships need to come through.

"Cruise ships operate on an hour-by-hour itinerary. So, they depend on the reliability that we provide in terms of lock operating," he said. "But it's a truly dynamic and exciting opportunity as more cruise ships come into the system."