Ontario Stories and Tips

1000 Islands Cruise

1000 Islands Cruise Photo, Ontario, Canada

One of the main reasons for deciding to break up the journey from Quebec to Toronto in Prescott specifically was its proximity to the 1000 Islands Cruise departure points. There's a risk that the final leg of your holiday, the one that takes you back to the airport, can end up feeling very anti-climatic unless you leave something till last. So this was our last thing to look forward to.

There are, in fact, several cruise operators offering these cruises along both sides of the St Lawrence starting south of Prescott for 40 miles or so, but we chose the Rockport Boat Line for a couple of reasons. First, Chris in the Blue Heron recommended it. Second, Chris in the Blue Heron gave us a discount coupon for it. The departure point is about a 40-minute drive south from the Blue Heron.

The day of the cruise was yet another lovely day. We'd been to Mesena, NY, on the morning, got back to the Blue Heron for a picnic lunch on the river bank, and set off just in time to catch the 3pm departure. The price was about C$20 each with our discount. There's plenty of room to park right next to the departure point. You get there, park up, buy your ticket, and you're off. At various times of the year there's also the choice of a dinner cruise, where you take a bit longer to go round the islands and get fed on the way, and also an option where you get off on one of the bigger islands - the one with Boldt Castle on it. These obviously cost a bit more, and you need to watch out because the island that Boldt Castle occupies is US territory, so unless you're a US citizen landing on the island from a boat departing from the US side, you'll need your passport.

The basic trip lasts about 50 minutes. It's pretty much what you'd expect, milling around the islands with a running commentary in English and French giving you a potted history about the islands and the structures that have been plonked on them over the years, the most notable of which is the much-photographed Boldt Castle. Recently restored following years of neglect, 'tis a tragic tale of riches, love, loss, and degeneration. Basically, the heir to the Wrigley Chewing Gum empire began developing the island and all its adornments as a token of his love for his wife, who promptly died before the project was finished. That, understandably, put the developments on ice and left the constructions at the mercy of local hooligans and vandals. More recently the project has been taken on by someone or another, and the island is now approaching a stage near to the original vision. Something along those lines anyway.

Halfway through the cruise, the friendly crew mingled and offered passengers the chance to buy an exhorbitantly priced but cold and welcome bottle of Budweiser, and then you're more or less on your way back to the mooring, where you are thoughtfully provided with the opportunity to purchase souvenirs in the adjacent shop and restaurant. All in all, it's a very pleasant and accessible little half-day excursion with unique photo opportunities. Here's the website.

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