The history and tradition of the Explorer’s Edge region of Ontario is tied entirely to the waterways that define our very character. Water is everywhere in Algonquin Park, the Almaguin Highlands, Loring-Restoule, Muskoka and Parry Sound, and for those not interested in propelling themselves with a paddle or oar, what better way to experience this freshwater paradise than to take a cruise on one of the fantastic boats that cross our rivers and lakes?
In 2016, the Muskoka Steamships in Gravenhurst is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the sailing of their first steamship, the Wenonah. Though that particular vessel has gone to the shipyard in the sky, you can still get a feel for 19th century cruising on one of the fleet’s incredible replicas. A trip aboard RMS Segwun or the Wenonah II will take you back to a time when a steamship was the only way to get to some resort destinations in Muskoka. Don’t miss the opportunity to go for a regular, themed or dining cruise on either boat.
Explore Georgian Bay’s 30,000 Islands aboard the 550-passenger Island Queen out of Parry Sound harbour. Designed for easy maneuverability and a shallow draft, the boat can travel into narrow channels and up-close to shorelines, letting you get some great photos. Spacious and comfortable inner seating, large viewing windows, and outside observation decks provide you with a captain’s-eye view of the passing scenery, and informative narration is provided. Other amenities on board include a snack bar and cafe, and wheelchair accessible washrooms.
Also out of Parry Sound and perfect for cruising the 30,000 Islands is the M.V. Chippewa III, formerly of the Maid of the Mist fleet. Launching out of the town’s main harbour, the boat offers regular, dinner and special event cruises. Situated across from great dining and shopping, and just down from the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts.
Cruise the Muskoka River and Lake Muskoka aboard The Lady Muskoka. Launching from the Quality Inn in Bracebridge, the boat features food and bar service, ranging from snacks to a variety of 3-course meals for special functions. The boat is licensed, so you can enjoy your favorite cocktail or ice cold beer while you cruise one of the most popular routes in cottage country.
Sunset Cruises out of Bracebridge, Port Carling and Rosseau offers elegant, informative and scenic cruises aboard Peerless II or The Idyllwood. Cruising the iconic country waters of Lakes Muskoka, Rosseau and Joseph, these more intimate vessels carry enthralled passengers to spots the bigger boats don’t navigate. Chartered cruises are also available for booking.
Also located in Muskoka, the S.S. Bigwin cruises the waters of Lake of Bays out of Dorset. This lovingly-restored beauty (and we mean lovingly – check out the video that documents the work that went into bringing it back to life) was originally built to ferry golfers and guests to Bigwin Island. Look for special event cruises and charter options as well.
Interested in learning more about the region’s nautical history? Visit the Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre at the Gravenhurst Wharf.
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