Viking Cruise Lines to make regular visits
GREAT LAKES – Last week the Great Lakes cruise ship industry received some good news—Viking, fast becoming one of the biggest cruise companies in the world—will be offering four different expeditions in the Great Lakes beginning in 2022 which will include stops in Little Current and Killarney.
Viking is building two ships for the Great Lakes specifically, Bruce O’Hare of Lakeshore Excursions told The Expositor. Lakeshore Excursions helped to woo the cruise ship giant to the Great Lakes.
Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will both be over 670 feet long, have 250 crew members and host 378 passengers. The two vessels were designed with the Welland Canal, and points beyond, in mind. “It’s also designed well for places in the North Channel,” Mr. O’Hare added.
Only one of the four Great Lakes cruises—the Great Lakes Explorer cruise—will stop on Manitoulin and at Killarney. The trip, with a price point beginning at $8,295, is eight days long. On days three through five, visitors will explore Little Current, Killarney and Parry Sound.
This is the first time cruise ship passengers will visit Killarney in over 60 years, Mr. O’Hare reported.
Lakeshore Excursions brought Viking planners to the Killarney area last year on two occasions and it paid off. “They fell in love with this new destination,” Mr. O’Hare said.
The Viking ships are too big for the Port of Little Current’s dock, and Killarney doesn’t have the facilities, but passengers will be brought into both ports via tender.
“I thank the municipalities for their steadfast determination and hanging in there, as has Wikwemikong Tourism and the Little Current BIA (Business Improvement Area), and now it’s all paying off,” Mr. O’Hare said.
Each year municipalities such as the Northeast Town, as well as the Little Current BIA and Wikwemikong Tourism provide funds to Lakeshore Excursions for a community membership in the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition and the yearly conference that has them rubbing elbows with executives of the major cruise ships companies in the hopes they can convince them that Manitoulin is a must-stop location.
Mr. O’Hare says it’s only a matter of time before the other major players—such as Norwegian and Carnival—come knocking.