For those who like the concept of river cruising, but enjoy the design of ocean cruise ships, a lake cruise may well be the answer.

Lake cruising uniquely benefits from all of the elements that differentiate river cruises from ocean cruises, but the big difference is that you can cruise the great lakes on an ocean ship, something you just can’t do on the great rivers.

‘Ocean V’s River’ is a popular ‘search’ topic, as many regular cruisers have tried one, but not the other, and are naturally curious that they could be missing out on something. But, the first comparison that is usually drawn is that river ships are by design, very different to ocean ships. Even the mighty rivers of Europe and the United States have very narrow sections to them and can be shallow in paces, which can fluctuate even further with seasonal tides. For example, river ships can operate with drafts of around 2-metres, whereas a similar sized ocean vessel in terms of passenger numbers, would be over 5-metres minimum. The height of the ships will also vary as they are required to traverse rivers with low bridges, a challenge you would not find in ocean cruising. This has even led to many river ships having retractable roofs on deck.


In general, most guests conclude that the river cruise experience is very different to that of the ocean. Smaller and more narrow ships, lower in height and a completely different layout inside and on deck, less entertainment and space for lectures and smaller cabins. However, the benefits of remaining close to land, removing the need for days at sea and berthing in the heart of the destination are the major draw for river cruising. There will typically be a larger focus on the destinations too, with excursions being inclusive, and you will almost certainly be guaranteed a new port to explore each day. You will be in the heart of the location and you will not be queuing for the tender boat or shuttles between a commercial port and the place you are meant to be visiting.

This is one of the reasons that lake cruising is rocketing in popularity with cruisers in the UK, with the Great Lakes of the US & Canada topping the bucket-list. Lake cruising delivers all of the above, and more. You will have the benefit of a spacious but small ocean ship, but you will be operating in the same way a river ship would. With Victory’s award-winning lake cruises, you will embark on thrilling expeditions along North America’s historic five Great Lakes and on a variety of exciting and culturally focused itineraries. You will always travel in the company of experts and local guides too. You can take the time to explore British Strongholds, rare stops in quaint French-Canadian villages, Victorian-era towns rich with seafaring history and remote islands with spectacular wildlife. Viewing fascinating local cultures is at the very heart of the lake cruising focus.

You will berth in the very centre of some of the greatest Cities in the world, such as Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal. And you will also explore more off-the-beaten-track gems like the unique cruise destination of Mackinac Island. This wonderful island retreat is sited on Lake Huron, close to the Mackinac Bridge which marks the border to Lake Michigan. Mackinac Island allows you to step back in time, and that is not just a marketing line. There are no cars here, so instead you will hear the peaceful clip-clop rhythms of the horse and carts that transport visitors. And because of its historic significance, the island is listed as a National Historic Landmark and well known for numerous cultural events and architectural styles. These include the Victorian Grand Hotel, famous among other things for America’s longest front porch, which stretches for miles.

Mackinac Island is a gloriously peaceful retreat, but on the very same lake cruise itinerary, you can also experience the sheer power and roar of Niagara Falls. Since its formation 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls has been a destination for explorers, daredevils and the curious. On our lake cruises we invite our guests to create mist-covered memories guaranteed to last a lifetime. Don your provided poncho, and soak in the raw power and beauty of the Falls on one of our sister company’s catamarans. There are few ways more impactful to feel nature’s power than sailing toward Bridal Veil Falls, and listening to the incredible sound of rushing water churn into the gleaming turquoise pool of the falls’ base.

Niagara Falls

There are so many more incredible experiences awaiting on an authentic lake cruise, and If you are already a fan of ocean cruising, river cruising or both, a lake cruise with American Queen Voyages is guaranteed to tick a new and compelling box in your cruising passport.


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