Enjoy the Wild Beauty and History of the 1000 Islands with a Gananoque Cruise
The rich, dark blue waters of the St. Lawrence River stretched out in front of me. Even though the wind ruffled my hair and sent chills down my neck I was thrilled to explore the 1000 Islands on a Gananoque cruise. There’s something serene and rejuvenating about being on the water. And when you combine all those refreshing feelings with a cruise through one of Ontario’s gems, the 1000 Islands, it can’t help but make for a great day!
One of the most spectacular waterways in Canada is the St. Lawrence River. Running between northern New York state in the United States and Southern Ontario in Canada, the St. Lawrence River is home to the 1000 Islands region. The 1000 Islands are made up of over 1800 islands, two castles, and countless bird life. And the best way to explore the 1000 Islands is aboard a Gananoque cruise.
Gananoque Boat Line
While there are various boat lines to choose from in both Canada and the United States, one of the best is Gananoque Boat Line. Over 60 years ago the Gananoque Boat Line had humble beginnings as they delivered mail to the people on the islands, and then started ferrying people between the islands too. It’s now grown to include five vessels, ushering up to 500 passengers a boat, and yet still remains a family run business with strong ties to the community.
The Gananoque Boat Line offers an assortment of cruises to choose from. From one-hour, two-hour, five-hour, or a special cruise that combines music and dinner along with a cruise around the 1000 Islands, the Gananoque Boat Line has a cruise to suit everyone’s taste.
Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands Cruise
The Gananoque Boat Line’s Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands Cruise is dubbed as a “Canadian Signature Experience“. Along the ride they offer audio commentary about the 1000 Islands region, its history, and stories of those who have called it home. On the second deck there’s indoor seating to escape the elements and enjoy video, and side-scan sonar images, of the many shipwrecks that lay beneath the waters of the St. Lawrence. And on the first deck there is a small snack bar, where you can grab a coffee or some fresh popcorn.
During the two and a half hour cruise you’ll learn about a half a dozen of the over 200 shipwrecks that now call the area home. Like the A.E. Vickery, a wooden schooner that sank in 1889 after it struck a shoal in the ‘American Narrows’. It’s incredible to think of the treasures that these ships hold, from relics to stories
My Magical Gananoque Cruise
The sky was that perfect hue of azure, with the occasional white, fluffy cloud passing by, and the sun blazed. When the boat began boarding I headed straight up to the top deck, for the best views. As the boat set off through the rich, cobalt blue waters we were met with a chill from the open water winds.
All around small rock islands dotted the river. Some with quaint cottages, others with lone trees, and a few with the many birds that call this area home. With the wind blowing my hair, standing at the front of the ship, all I could do was smile, looking out at this wonderland of wild, untamed beauty.
As an animal lover, I was blown away by the wealth of bird life. Cormorants abound, covering small rock islands, and perched through trees otherwise bare. Osprey call this area an ideal home, with nests balanced on buoys. And I even craned my neck to take in a majestic bald eagle soar above the islands.
Among the many islands you cruise past everything from charming cottages to grand, million dollar homes. And there’s even a castle. Located on Heart Island, Boldt Castle was built by the owner of the world-famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel, George C. Boldt. While my cruise, the Lost Ships Cruise, doesn’t stop at the Castle, they do have a cruise that does. Giving you two hours to explore this grandiose, six-story castle, with 120 rooms, gardens, and other interesting structures, the Boldt Castle Stopover Cruise is an epic 5 hour tour.
*But make sure you have your passport if you want to take the Boldt Castle Stopover Cruise, as it’s on American soil.
Where to Eat
As my cruise began in the afternoon, I opted for lunch at Island Memories Restaurant. This restaurant shares the same building where you get your tickets for the Gananoque Boat Line cruises. It’s located across the street from where you catch your boat, making it incredibly convenient. There’s even a gift shop to browse and grab a souvenir of your trip.
I chose the spicy chicken sandwich, and it was delicious! And whatever type of bun they use was mouth-watering good. The menu is varied and the prices are very budget friendly.
Would I recommend a cruise with Gananoque Boat Line?
I was blown away by the Gananoque cruise! From the breathtaking location to the incredible highlights, like Boldt Castle, shipwrecks, and the expansive 1000 Islands International Bridge, the experience was all encompassing.
Not only is the cruise a fabulous way to explore the 1000 Islands, but you’ll leave with an abundance of knowledge on the area and its history. The cruise left me with a profound appreciation of the 1000 Islands region.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by 1000 Islands Tourism, and asked to provide an honest review. As always, my opinions are all my own.
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