There Has Never Been a Better Time to Cruise the Great Lakes

The Ambassador Bridge links Detroit, Michigan, USA and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Long Exposure taken from Windsor.


In 2016, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers developed a strategy to rejuvenate the region’s maritime transportation system. Beyond actions to strengthen traditional maritime commerce, the strategy included steps to develop niche markets such as cruising into bigger economic drivers. Bringing more cruise ships to more of the region’s ports and cities represents a tremendous opportunity.

Cruising on the Great Lakes is poised for major growth, with significant economic benefits for the entire region. In 2018, eight cruise ships plan to operate in the region, representing nearly 1million port visits by passengers. Two additional ships plan to enter the region by 2020. The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers are eager to accelerate this growth and have been exploring ways to do this most effectively. Various organizations have supported the growth of regional cruising through policy advocacy, marketing to cruise operators, and other activities. Different entities also market different aspects of regional cruising, but to date there has not been a consistent regional brand nor marketing program specifically directed at cruise passengers.

To fill this gap, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers have built a coalition of governments, cruise operators, port authorities, convention and visitor bureaus, and other partners. Together, they have created Cruise the Great Lakes to position the region for sustained cruising growth for years to come. “The next decade can bring a huge influx of new cruise operators and passengers to the Great Lakes. Marketing the region’s many attractions to tourists from North America and the rest of the world is a crucial component. The breadth our region has to offer, from major cities to small towns to pristine natural areas, is unparalleled in the world,” said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan.

Cruise the Great Lakes is the region’s cruise marketing partnership. Its mission is to promote cruising in the region through an optimized and unique brand targeted towards current and potential passengers. The success of this partnership depends on the creation of a durable, regional coalition. Cruise the Great Lakes therefore welcomes partner organizations to join the region’s states and provinces in developing, promoting and sustaining regional cruising. This marketing partnership complements other ongoing work to grow Great Lakes cruising. In addition to marketing, work continues in order to improve shoreside facilities and experiences, and to address customs and other policy challenges. The time has come to establish the Great Lakes as a world-class cruising destination. The efforts of Cruise the Great Lakes will be an important step in making that happen.


SOURCE: SLSDC, Seaway Compass Spring 2018