The heartland of North America: the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway

Adam Tindall-Schlicht explains his plans for the future of the waterway’s cruising industry

The heartland of North America: the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway
Cruising on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway provides passengers with the opportunity to see a variety of attractions and views, including in Michigan’s capital of Detroit

By Elly Yates-Roberts |

Verdant, varied, vast are three words often used to describe the landscape surrounding the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway. It is unsurprising then that the waterway has become a popular tourist attraction, particularly when it comes to cruising.  

“Cruising on the Great Lakes is unique in the global context,” says Adam Tindall-Schlicht, administrator of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS), who highlights the region’s scenery, destinations, convenience, safety and efficiency as major factors in its popularity.  

“The area offers breathtaking landscapes and a variety of ports, islands, cities and freshwater wonders,” he says. “Cruising provides a stunning, efficient and convenient way to explore it all in a relatively short amount of time during the same trip.”  

For US and Canadian tourists, the Great Lakes also offer a more sustainable holiday option. Individuals can avoid long-haul, international flights while also supporting some of the “most environmentally sophisticated cruise lines in the world”, according to Tindall-Schlicht. “The brands operating in the area are investing in cleaner technologies, reducing single-use plastics and increasing recycling efforts.”  

In addition to this, several of the ports and cruise lines have signed the Cruise the Great Lakes Sustainability Pledge, which aims to expand environmentally conscious cruising while preserving the natural beauty of the Great Lakes region. “These efforts, which include destination stewardship, carbon reduction, wastewater and recycling protocols, resonate with today’s eco-centric cruise customer,” says Tindall-Schlicht.  

Increasing environmental, economic and social sustainability is key to the future of the region for Tindall-Schlicht, who was appointed the 11th administrator of the GLS by US President Joe Biden in November 2022. “I am truly honoured to be in this role,” he says. “The President and US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are committed to implementing game-changing infrastructure projects throughout the USA, including on the Great Lakes. I am humbled to serve the Biden Administration, working to create jobs in the Great Lakes region and grow the North American maritime economy.  

“As administrator, I am committed to expanding the use of the US and Canadian Great Lakes Seaway System in a sustainable and resilient way, including through cruise activity. A good climate and environmental policy is also a good economic and tourism policy. Resiliency planning is key for developing the right infrastructure and protecting the unique ecology of the waters here.”  

Tindall-Schlicht has created a three-point plan to realise his high hopes for the future of the region. “In terms of environmental stewardship, we will be working towards implementing a green shipping corridor network on the Great Lakes Seaway System. This initiative will see a range of public and private stakeholders collaborate to drive the sustainability of the cruising industry by supporting the adoption of zero-emission fuels and technologies.”  

The Great Lakes Cruising Coalition (GLCC) is another integral component of Tindall-Schlicht’s plans. “The collective of US- and Canada-based ports, vessel agencies and tourism organisations are working to promote cruise activity and tell the Great Lakes story in a new and more dynamic way,” he says. “It also helps new and existing cruise operators with itinerary planning, port operations and facilitation with US federal agencies, among other things. 

“Beyond these collaborative efforts, we will also be spending approximately $5 million in trade development and international marketing funds within the next two years to help support commercial and cruise-related growth through the Great Lakes Seaway System.” 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

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