Writer: Imbran Bagha

That exotic travel destination may not be so far away.

You no longer have to travel far to experience an ocean-style luxury cruise getaway. Whether Thunder Bay is the last stop or the first, you can fly directly via the Thunder Bay International Airport and into an opulent travel experience like no other.

The year 2022 marked the return of cruise trips in Thunder Bay, offered by luxury cruise fleet operators Viking and American Queen Voyages. The Viking Octantis was the first cruise ship to dock in the city since 2012.

The Octantis is instantly recognizable by its sleek and elegant interior design, which patrons can tour virtually online – just like most other cruise ships docking in Thunder Bay. Cozy water-facing staterooms, a rich selection of mouth-watering food and drink, and relaxing spa treatments on board perfectly merge novelty with comfort for guests.

Although these ships’ interiors are remarkable and their comfort first-class, the real exhilaration begins on the voyage itself. Four ships will call on Thunder Bay in 2023, offering trips across the Great Lakes, stopping at a variety of unique ports spanning Canadian and U.S. waters.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of booking a cruise on the Great Lakes is the opportunity to experience our beautiful region in an entirely new way. With time on our hands and in a relaxed, serene environment, the mind is intimately drawn to the silence of nature and the natural wonder of the dark night sky. It’s a luxurious setting to reflect on the aspects that make this one of the most beautiful regions in Northern Ontario and – dare we say it? – perhaps even the world.

 Exciting shore excursions at each port are accompanied by art and music performances; intimate warm sunrises and sunsets juxtaposed with delicious cuisine; and cool evening breezes to share a blanket with your travel partner. Lake Superior is the world’s largest lake by surface area, and experiencing it in this manner feels uniquely exotic.

Familiar sights, as well, aren’t so familiar. The majesty of the Sleeping Giant, for example, framed against a horizon from the water-side view – a panorama of greens, blues, and soft grays. Coming to port in Thunder Bay, Canada’s Gateway to the West, amidst a summer festival weekend is an exciting experience like no other.

Whether you’re from Canada, the U.S., or overseas, starting or ending your journey in Thunder Bay allows you to experience the art, culture, and entertainment of one of Canada’s most vibrant small cities framed by an exhilarating journey. The city boasts cultural events almost every week of the summer, so no matter when you dock or depart, you’re guaranteed to arrive just in time. 

Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris each carry two submersibles to explore Lake Superior beneath the waves.

Some of the cruise lines calling on Thunder Bay in 2023 and 2024:

Viking Cruise Lines

Hapag Lloyd Cruises

Ponant Cruises

American Queen Voyages

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