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Tranquil blue water, opulent cottages, elaborate castles and tales of pirates from a bygone era. These are just a few things you can expect when cruising among the 1000 Islands on the mighty St. Lawrence River. Tour boats, kayaks, and personal watercraft allow visitors to take advantage of this unique and mesmerizing area. There really is no better way to experience the stunning beauty of the 1000 Islands than by water.
One of the most popular ways to experience this unique area is by enjoying one of the local boat tours. In the area there are some great boat line options, including: Gananoque Boat Line and Rockport Cruises. Each offers a variety of tours to choose from, so you can cater your boat cruise to suit your personal interests. Tours range from historic, with tales of pirates and other 1000 Island lore to dining and entertainment to educational and scenic. All offer a unique perspective of the islands and make for an incredible day.
You can also cruise out of Rockport which is a tiny village about twenty kilometres east of Gananoque. This bustling port houses Rockport Cruises which was originally founded in 1954 and has evolved into a world-class leader in tourism. Thousands of tourists from all over the world visit the picturesque historic village of Rockport Ontario each season to take advantage of their engaging tours.
The relaxing “Heart of the Islands” cruise is a one-hour tour that takes you past Boldt Castle, Zavikon Island and Millionaire’s Row. For castle lovers, there’s the “Boldt Castle Tour,” which takes you on a 3.5 hour long voyage and includes a stopover at Boldt Castle and the “Two Castle Tour,” which includes stops at Boldt Castle and Singer Castle. The two-hour “Palaces & Palisades Cruise” features the Canadian Palisades where a statue of St. Lawrence watches over the river that bears his name. There’s also a “Sunset Dinner Cruise” with panoramic views and a delicious country buffet.
Paddling through this historically charming and ecologically rich area is another great way to experience the river and islands. 1000 Islands Kayaking offers world class sea kayaking for all experience levels of paddlers. Their nationally certified guides host a variety of tours, ranging from half and full day tours to a more robust two-night camping tour.
Cruising on top of the water is not the only way to experience this amazing region. Dive deeper and you’ll find that The 1,000 Islands is also one of the world’s best places to go freshwater scuba diving. Nicknamed the ‘Caribbean of the north’ because the waters are fresh and clear, this area has become a hub for scuba divers. Divers can generally see 50 to 60 feet in front of them most of the year and 60 to 100 feet in the fall and the surface and deep waters are usually within a couple degrees of each other. This area offers many exciting dive opportunities to explore historic and archaeological rich underground sites, including many century old shipwrecks.
Whichever way you decide to navigate the beautiful waters of the 1,000 Islands, one thing is certain, you won’t be disappointed. Ahoy, Maties – see you in the islands!
City Cruises by Hornblower
Originally started as a means to ferry people across the water, this boat line has evolved to become a premier tourism offering. Operating today as City Cruises, there are now five vessels, which welcome over 300,000 people aboard annually. Each themed cruise offers a natural way to relax, while delivering a distinctive experience with family or friends. Step onboard and see the legendary 1,000 Islands up close and learn about their lively history.
Rumrunners, pirates and explorers beware: the latest cruise offering showcases the boat line’s Canadian Signature Tourism Experience, the Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands. This two-and-a-half-hour cruise was chosen as one of only 40 experiences from across Canada for the distinguished honour of being a national signature experience and being promoted internationally. The Lost Ships cruise gives shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence River a voice, by displaying diver video footage coupled with compelling commentary, when the vessel glides over wrecks lying silently on the river bed.
In addition to its day offerings, the boat line also affords participants a one-of-a-kind dinner and music experience, as high-quality entertainment complements sumptuous food aboard its evening cruises. These special events take the island experience to a new level and offer an alternative to a more traditional scenic boat cruise.