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 The cruisecompanies booking in the Freshwater Seas are expanding opportunities. Victory Cruise Lines added a second vessel in 2018 and expects to add a third in the next two years. The company cites the safety of cruising the region and its prime ports as major contributors to growth. For example, Mackinac Island was named the No. 1 place to travel in the U.S. in 2018. The island is unlike any other location. The only two vehicles on the island are an ambulance and a fire truck. Everyday travel occurs with horse and carriage and bicycles. Passengers disembark with carriages waiting to take them to historic Fort Mackinac, the Butterfly House or to rent kayaks, hike the trails or go horseback riding.


Companies in the passenger cruising industry influence each other, amplifying progress. The annual number of passengers cruising globally has increased from 3.7 million in 1990 to 25 million today, according to Cruise Market Watch. Projections call for 27.6 million cruise passengers in 2020—14.8 million of them cruising in North America.

The cruise ship industry has experienced an average annual growth rate of 7.2 percent since 1990, according to Repositioning Cruises. The growth is part of the largest service industry in the world, contributing trillions of dollars to the global Gross Domestic Product.

The companies are offering cruises in two ways: all inclusive and with amenities a la carte.


Cruise companies new to the region find a high skill level ship handling. Because of the long-standing commercial shipping industry, there are abundant service providers in fueling, delivering supplies, meeting ships, providing pilots and other tasks.

Most importantly, there are plans in place for clearing passengers when crossing the border of U.S. and Canada. In addition, new technology is being tested that would further simplify the customs process.


While Europeans have long been interested in exploring the Great Lakes/Seaway, cruise lines are identifying growing interest in Japan, New Zealand and Australia. In addition to where interested passengers are hailing from, the region's natural resources provide for untapped opportunities for more physical options like swimming, cycling and hiking.

The beaches compete with those in the Bahamas.

There's still much to discover in the Great Lakes. This is a pivotal time.

Binational experiences. Much more than museums. Unchartered territories. The business case for cruising the Freshwater Seas is favorable.

The Great Lakes

Freshwater Seas by the numbers
Lake Superior
Length350 mi
Width160 mi
Avg. Depth483 ft
Max. Depth1,332 ft
Shoreline2,980 mi
Volumne2,900 mi3
Population0.5 million
Lake Michigan
Length307 mi
Width118 mi
Avg. Depth279 ft
Max. Depth925 ft
Shoreline1,659 mi
Volumne1,180 mi3
Population8.5 million
Lake Huron
Length206 mi
Width183 mi
Avg. Depth195 ft
Max. Depth750 ft
Shoreline3,827 mi
Volumne850 mi3 mi3
Population2.7 million
Lake Ontario
Length193 mi
Width53 mi
Avg. Depth283 ft
Max. Depth802 ft
Shoreline726 mi
Volumne393 mi3 mi3
Population8 million
Lake Erie
Length241 mi
Width57 mi
Avg. Depth62 ft
Max. Depth210 ft
Shoreline871 mi
Volumne116 mi3 mi3
Population12 million