By Evie Carrick
Updated: April 08, 2019
Steve Swartz/Getty Images

Cruise ship operators on the Great Lakes are adding trips this season, and lines that left the destination are returning. According to the Chicago Tribune, industry experts are predicting that companies who have never traveled the Great Lakes area will be coming on board.

Routes on the Great Lakes include an eight-day loop around Lake Michigan that begins and ends in Chicago, a 10-day trip between Toronto and Chicago, and a 16-day trip from Chicago to New York City on Great American Waterways passes through four Great Lakes and the Erie Canal.

Many of the ships cater to fewer than 100 passengers, keeping the experience intimate.

Blount Small Ship Adventures, Pearl Seas Cruises, and Victory Cruise Lines are all either expanding their routes or adding new vessels. Ponant, a French luxury cruise line that hasn’t sailed the Great Lakes in a decade, is returning this season alongside the German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

New to the scene is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which will start cruising in early 2020 and has expressed plans to eventually expand its fleet to the area. In addition, there are rumors that cruise giant Viking Cruises is considering the Great Lakes.

“We made the choice to add more departures on the Great Lakes because we’ve seen an influx of interest,” Blount Small Ship Adventures marketing manager Kayla Setters told the Chicago Tribune. “People are looking to cruise closer to home.”