Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning 2024

86 ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS: INTERVIEW Making waves Rebecca Yackley speaks with Alex Smith about why the Great Lakes is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for itinerary planners to explore The Great Lakes of North America are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, with the rivers and channels connecting them extending over 3,700 kilometres from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Duluth, Minnesota, on the western end of Lake Superior. The many miles of rivers, lakes and channels create a cruising experience that strike a balance between ocean travel and river cruising, providing access to ports of call in six of eight US states. They include New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, along with the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Rebecca Yackley, director of the Office of Trade & Economic Development at the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS), a division of the US Department of Transportation tasked with promoting the region as a cruise destination, highlights the many experiences available on a cruise to the region. “Travellers can disembark on Mackinac Island for horse and carriage rides, or visit Green Bay, Wisconsin, to tour the American football team Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame,” says Yackley. “Guests can also explore the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, Victorian homes and art museums of Muskegon, the gourmet cuisines of Milwaukee’s beer city food markets and tour the renowned Harley Davidson Museum. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the famous, historic Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan, are also must-see attractions.” The variety and appeal of the experiences on offer during a cruise to the Great Lakes is now being recognised by the cruise industry. An increasing number of cruise lines are offering voyages to the region in response to guests’ interest, and ports are developing their infrastructure and services to meet demand. “All five Great Lakes are currently supporting cruise itineraries, alongside the established route between Milwaukee in Wisconsin and Toronto, Ontario,” says Yackley. “Ports across the Great Lakes are improving and expanding their dock space and accommodation for cruise ships. For example, the Muskegon, on the shores of Lake Michigan, is one of the destinations around the Great Lakes developing its cruise offering