Cruising: A Canadian Small Ship Alternative


St. Lawrence Cruise Lines Prepares for 2021 Cruise Season

In early February, Canada’s Ministry of Transportation announced restrictions on large cruise vessels for the coming year. But aspiring Canadian travelers can take heart that they will have a small ship cruising alternative for the 2021 travel season. St. Lawrence Cruise Lines has confirmed operations for the upcoming season and will provide overnight cruises on the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers from May to October.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines is a Canadian tour operator with a 40-year history of calm water river cruising. The company was formed in 1981 by Kingston, Ontario entrepreneur Robert W. Clark and the line continues to be family-owned and operated in 2021.

Some key features of their cruises are the small ship profile of the 32-stateroom CANADIAN EMPRESS, an experienced all-Canadian crew, and a robust Health and Safety program that allowed the company to operate this past September in compliance with federal and provincial pandemic guidelines.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines President Jason Clark comments, “We are excited to offer Canadian domestic travelers a small ship cruising alternative for the 2021 season. Our overnight cruises stay close to shore in Canadian waters and our Covid-19 Health and Safety program has been recognized for its high standards.”

This past December, St. Lawrence Cruise Lines was awarded the Safe Travels Stamp by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) for adherence to global standards of health and safety. The Safe Travels Stamp is an international symbol designed to help travelers recognize companies around the world that have adopted global standardized health and hygiene protocols – intended to ensure that travelers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.

The accreditation was the result of enhanced health and safety measures that were developed and enacted by St. Lawrence Cruise Lines in 2020 for their fall cruise schedule. The measures are specific to overnight small ship cruising within Canadian waters, and include guest screening, reduced passenger loads, physical distancing, masking, and a ship-wide disinfectant program.

In Ontario, the Safe Travels Stamp is awarded through cooperation between the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) and the World Travel and Tourism Commission (WTTC).

TIAO President and CEO Beth Potter said, “We are delighted to confirm St. Lawrence Cruise Lines has been awarded the #SafeTravels Stamp. Across Canada, tourism businesses big and small are doing all they can to offer Canadians the perfect vacation. More and more Canadians are looking closer to home to escape from the challenges of the pandemic and rediscovering their own provinces.

When they see the ‘Safe Travels Stamp’ has been awarded to the destination or hotel they’re planning to visit they will know that they are upholding the highest standards of health and safety and demonstrating they are adhering to the global health protocols issued by the WTTC.”

The line will offer a variety of cruises from 4 to 7 nights in length, with departures from Kingston, Ottawa, and Quebec City. The vessel will travel exclusively in domestic waters and stop at select ports such as Brockville, Prescott, Morrisburg in Ontario, and Montebello, Montréal and Trois Riviéres in Quebec. Daily excursions will consist of private guided tours of historic attractions such as Upper Canada Village, Fort Wellington, Parc Omega, and Montreal’s Space for Life.

The atmosphere aboard the classic riverboat CANADIAN EMPRESS is warm and friendly. The crew is well-trained to deliver top notch hospitality service while keeping passengers comfortable and safe. All staterooms have access to fresh air, climate controls, and an intimate view of the river. Calm water cruising is all about relaxation, and the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers provide the perfect atmosphere to get away without leaving Canada.

“The river is our home. We have known it and loved it for 40 years and we want to share it with Canadians who don’t have other travel options in the coming year.” said Jason Clark

The 2021 cruising season will run from May 20 to October 24. Their free travel brochure is available at or by calling 1-800-267-7868.