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My Covid-19 Travel Silver Lining—Combining Local Road Trips with Small-Ship Cruising Close to Home in Canada

By Judi Cohen


Photos, bottom to top: The Canadian Empress; The Canadian Empress cruising; Oh, Canada A s we head into yet another lockdown in Ontario, Canada and with the border between Canada and the United States closed since March 2020, I have set my sights on traveling closer to home. Flights to sun destinations and to several Canadian cities have also been cancelled.

With a little research, I have however found my silver lining. I am looking forward to not one, but two upcoming small-ship adventures right here in Canada in May and June, 2021.

My first adventure will start just two hours away from my home in Toronto to Kingston, Ontario, where I will set sail on the “Celebration of Spring Cruise” aboard the Canadian Empress with St. Lawrence Cruises Lines, www.stlawrencecruiselines.com. This one-ship, family-owned line is based in Kington, Ontario and started in 1981.

The Canadian Empress is a replica of the 20th century steamboats that cruised in the Thousand Islands along the St. Lawrence River, and today follow similar itineraries. We will be sailing from Kingston to Montreal and returning to Kingston as we pass through a number of locks and visit

the Thousand Islands, Gananoque, Lachine, Cornwall, Morrisburg and Prescott.

In 2018, I cruised the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes with Victory Cruise Lines www.victorycruiselines.com, on the Victory II from Montreal to Detroit that left me wanting to see it all again. My story about this cruise can be found here. https://quirkycruise.com/newvictory-ii-great-lakes-adventure/.

I am comfortable with the Covid-19 protocols established by St. Lawrence Cruise Lines that include proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of boarding the vessel. This testing will be required for all passengers regardless of vaccination status. At this time, there is no requirement for Vaccine Certifications, although both my husband and I have been fully vaccinated since February and would happily present our certificates.

My second adventure will begin in early June with Le Boat, www.leboat.ca, along the UNESCO designated Rideau Canal, starting in Smiths Falls, Ontario on a Horizon boat with just my husband, daughter and our Samoyed puppy, Joni. We have never captained our own boat, nor are we required to have a boating license, but we are looking forward to learning how to navigate our way through the locks in the Rideau Canal. We are hard at work planning our itinerary and the stops along the way.

I’m so hoping I won’t have to postpone or cancel trips I have booked to destinations further away like New York, Israel, Japan and a small-ship cruise with Pandaw River Expeditions www.pandaw.com in Laos and Thailand.

However, starting out slow and close to home seems safest in the coming months, and the planning process has actually been an eyeopening experience learning about destinations located in my own backyard in Ontario.

Photos, top to bottom: Le Boat; Around the campfire with Le Boat in the background; Sunset on the canal