1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
The Canadian Empress is a replica of the old steam operated passenger riverboats that used to cruise in the Thousand Islands of the St Lawrence River. There are of course modifications for the 21st century, even WIFI, so our travel was ... Read More
The Canadian Empress is a replica of the old steam operated passenger riverboats that used to cruise in the Thousand Islands of the St Lawrence River. There are of course modifications for the 21st century, even WIFI, so our travel was more comfortable than it would have been in the early 19th century. All travel is done in daylight hours, so you can maximize the scenery. We travelled from Quebec City to Kingston. Shore excursions usually take up a half day, including a bus tour of Montreal, a stop in Trois Rivieres with a bus to the shrine at Cap de la Madeleine, a visit to Upper Canada Village, a tour of Fulford Mansion in Brockville, and a trip up the Sky Tower on Hill Island from Gananoque. The remainder of the day you can sit on the upper deck or either of the covered stern or bow decks to watch the beautiful scenery go by. The pace is slow. Dress is casual, comfortable and practical. Chef Joe does amazing things in a very tiny galley. All meals are full service and the wait staff are great. There is a small bar at the end of the dining room with very reasonable pricing. On our trip beer and wine were included with meals but only $6 at other times. Bartender Matt was fantastic! The purser Karen did a great job of keeping us organized and entertained. There was a daily puzzle, evenings had entertainment including a magician, a flute and classical guitar duo, Roger James a singer who defies categorization, a night playing team Trivial Pursuit, and because our trip covered both July 1 and 4, views of fireworks. The July 1 event in Montreal was especially unique as it is done over the water, right where we were moored. Accessibility is an issue, as there are stairs. There were travellers on our cruise using walkers or canes and they managed, but this is not a wheelchair accessible ship. Most passengers were seniors, but family groups included middle aged members. We all got along very well, and the age mixture was great. This is not a cruise for children or teens though. Physical activity is minimal on board, shuffleboard and walking the deck the extent of it. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise due to location and an opportunity to combine it with a stay in the old walled part of Quebec City. The boat is modeled after a river steamboat of the early 1900s and is architecturally interesting. The cabins are ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to location and an opportunity to combine it with a stay in the old walled part of Quebec City. The boat is modeled after a river steamboat of the early 1900s and is architecturally interesting. The cabins are tiny with no storage other than three very small drawers [one under one of the bunk beds] and the other two in a small night table, as well as the floor space under the beds. The beds are narrow, like the width of a camp cot, so this sleeping arrangement would not be suitable for anyone of a large size. Nor would anyone who is exceptionally tall be comfortable in the bed as it is hemmed in by the wall. There is a pleasant covered deck at the rear of the boat as well as an open deck for the top level. Inside there is one room that serves as the common space for meals, entertainment, and gathering. The meals are average--some better than others. Both lunch and dinner consisted of a meat/poultry/fish with a vegetable and a starch; I felt that the lunches would be better served as soup and sandwich, chef's salad, cold or hot buffet--namely, since this group draws an older clientele, two meals that are essentially dinners are neither needed nor often wanted. There is always coffee and tea available along with muffins freshly baked. The evening entertainment was superb and used local talent along the route. The crew was courteous, helpful, and overall efficient and professional. The shore excursions [all included] added to the knowledge gained as did the Log Book issues to each passenger. The trip along the St.Lawrence offers many beautiful views. This cruise is not suitable for children or teenagers. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
From a villa in St. Barths to crossing the Atlantic on the QE2 in Princess class after a week in Epernay France, I consider myself a discerning traveller. We embarked on the Canadian Empress from my hometown of Kingston Ontario intrigued ... Read More
From a villa in St. Barths to crossing the Atlantic on the QE2 in Princess class after a week in Epernay France, I consider myself a discerning traveller. We embarked on the Canadian Empress from my hometown of Kingston Ontario intrigued by a voyage on the St. Lawrence River through the locking system to our final destination of Quebec City. It will enter my travelogue as one of the most enjoyable journeys I've ever experienced. My fellow passengers were also world travellers with fascinating interests and professions hailing from Europe, UK, US with a sprinkling from Canada. I haven't laughed so much in a long time! The ships staff were exceptional from Trevor our intrepid Purser who always showed up with something new to do from kites off the stern to the rules of shuffleboard which led to a rousing tournament - to the deck hands who never stopped polishing rails or wiping down the decks. Who knew Upper Canada Village would be the best example of my tax dollars at work? Or that Montreal, a place I grew up in, would come to life from a different perspective by our intrepid guide. With the ship so close to the water the views were spectacular, never impeded by weather - you could always find a spot to enjoy the river, and the freighters going by even from the interior of the grand saloon on inclement days. And somehow the design of the ship provided smooth sailing even on rough days. If you go, pack light. to the crew, keep the dance floor open! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
The accommodation was dilapidated, cramped and odourous. We were instructed to leave the bathroom fan on at all times, for room ventilation, hence a roaring sound from the fan and air conditioning, the entire trip. In addition there was a ... Read More
The accommodation was dilapidated, cramped and odourous. We were instructed to leave the bathroom fan on at all times, for room ventilation, hence a roaring sound from the fan and air conditioning, the entire trip. In addition there was a constant roar from the engines, which seemed to be located under our cabin. There was no seating provided in the cabin other than a hard folding chair, or the tiny hard bed which was a board with a thin spring filled mattress on it. I asked for an extra blanket so I could pad the mattress against the poking springs. We sacrificed floor space to keep the second bed, which could be folded up against the wall, in the down position, since the hard chair did not seem to be a viable option for relaxing. Even with the noise in the cabin, it was preferable to the din in the "grand salon" which was deafening at times. From the description of the boat, I pictured a replica steamship with some padded seats and draperies, but such was not the case. I want to emphasize that the staff were exceptional, and worked themselves to a frenzy, serving in the dining room then cleaning rooms and toilets in between. This cruise is not suitable for disabled people, of whom there were plenty. There are stairs and ramps to maneuver without assistance from the crew. I found it a bit disconcerting that when we were lined up to get the key for our room, that we were also given a "contract" to sign. The contract released the company from any conceivable mishap. It was only later, when I read the contract, that I understood there would be no assistance for disabled people. This did not make a difference to me, but there were people who disembarked early because of the difficulty they encountered getting up and down the stairs (the cabins were downstairs, meals and disembarkation planks were upstairs). It would have made a massive difference to our potential travelling companions who, thankfully, cancelled early. I do not believe anyone read the 2 page, fine print contract before signing, as other passengers were in the lineup waiting to get the keys to their "cabin". There was only a small outer deck, at the back of the ship, that was a sheltered place to sit. It only had about 12 chairs for about 60 passengers. The top deck space, although it had more chairs, was unsheltered from all types of weather. Only the last half of the cruise on the river was really scenic as the river is just too wide to be able to see much on the shore. I would recommend a shorter trip around the Thousand Islands for anyone who wants to see the scenery. The cruise experience from Quebec City to Kingston on the Canadian Empress was just not worth the discomfort. This trip was not a bargain by any stretch of the imagination! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
My husband wanted to follow the St. Lawrence by car until I located this cruise thru AARP. We have done a lot of cruising on large ships, but found the Canadian Princess cruise to be more intimate and lots of fun. The cabins aren't ... Read More
My husband wanted to follow the St. Lawrence by car until I located this cruise thru AARP. We have done a lot of cruising on large ships, but found the Canadian Princess cruise to be more intimate and lots of fun. The cabins aren't large; but you are only there to sleep, shower and change clothes. The food was very good. The bartender was happy to mix anything we requested - even when he was not sure of the ingredients. He looked the drink up on his phone and proceeded to mix. You don't get that kind of service on the large ships! The entire crew was friendly, including the Captain who joined in the fun when possible. The shore excursions were educational and informative. There were a few missteps during our cruise involving the shore excursions; but all were handled with finesse and consideration for the passengers. Onboard activities were lots of fun and full of laughs. We would take this cruise again in a heartbeat. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
It was a hoot. I am not a big fan or expert on cruises having been on two others Holland America and Norwegian, trust me friends this is neither. It is a 50 year old reproduction of a 1890-1910 river cruise ship. The rooms are tiny, ... Read More
It was a hoot. I am not a big fan or expert on cruises having been on two others Holland America and Norwegian, trust me friends this is neither. It is a 50 year old reproduction of a 1890-1910 river cruise ship. The rooms are tiny, the bath/toilet with a marine toilet that you have to pump to flush is out of the past, the average age of the passengers is 77 and there were one pair of newlyweds who were 95 and 98 respectively. The entertainment is corn-ball and local and the shore tours are on yellow limousines AKA school buses. The food is nothing overly fancy, but substantial and tasty enough that I gained 5 lb and my wife 3. We both enjoyed it immensely, it is fun, laid back, low key, you tie up at night so you can sleep like a babe. Do not go if you want to gamble, drink to excess, stay up all night partying or try to impress your shipmates. But the scenery particularly in the 1000 Island area is outstanding, the crew from captain to cabin attendants/waitresses were friendly, kind, and personable. My only reservation is that once you get through the 1000 Island area the river widens considerably and the scenery is less interesting. I would recommend the slightly shorter trip through the island area and back to Kingston and then take the train to Montreal and Quebec City if you really want to go all the way down river. Oh by the way, spend a couple of nights in Kingston it is a charming relic from the past with lots of bed and breakfast places and even a few newer hotels if B&B is not your thing. Chosen because it sounded interesting, different and indeed it was. This is a one ship cruise line consequently they have to do it right and for the most part they do. The staff was very accommodating, the cruise was no hassle, the drinks were fairly priced and the food was "home cooking" with a flair. Top speed for the ship is about 12 MPH going with the current and probably 10 MPH going upstream. The river is essentially glassy smooth so the odds of "sailor's tummy" does not exist. The fellow passengers were for the most part very well traveled, and have experience with other big ship/ocean cruises. I personally did not hear any complaints except for one shore excursion that was less interesting that the others. All shore excursions are included in the fare. Other than shuffleboard and walking around the top deck and hustling to meals there are no fitness facilities so plan on putting on a pound or two. What the heck you can work it off when you get home. Note that there is no elevator so this is not a very handicapped friendly ship, think 1910 in this regard. Yes, I would do it again or at least take one of their other cruises. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
W have cruised extensively on 4 continents and know the difficulties of comparing what can be very different experiences.This little one ship ship cruise line attempts to step back in time a little ind delivered everything as promised, ... Read More
W have cruised extensively on 4 continents and know the difficulties of comparing what can be very different experiences.This little one ship ship cruise line attempts to step back in time a little ind delivered everything as promised, Because of its small size and the route through some very busy waterways there is a real sense of identification with the St..Lawrence river and it's history. The ship is over 30 years old but appears to be in good shape thanks to ongoing maintenance and the fact it operates only 4 months or so a year. Would suggest it is time to change some berth mattresses and renovate cabin windows as some are ddifficult to open. Our guest service crew were delightful; young, energetic with a nice mix of formality and casualness .The officers were approachable and well informed. Sailing on the Canadian Empress iis really a unique experience..Our party of 6 had a great time! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with ... Read More
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with small but reasonably comfortable cabins. We paid extra for the Premier Cabins, a huge mistake. We selected the Premier cabins, 24 and 25 and paid a premium for the extra space. What a joke! The cabin was small with a double bed against a wall requiring that the inside occupant crawl out the foot of the bed or over the outside occupant when getting up. Not an easy task for older passengers. At best the cabin could be described as shabby, the furnishings and the cabin itself had all seen better days. The cabins were located directly over the bow thrusters which were extremely noisy, a special delight when leaving port at 4:30 AM. There were portholes, not windows in the cabin which were locked shut and could not be opened without tools and certainly could not be opened when sailing. The real horror was the bathroom, it was barley large enough to sit on the john and the shower was extremely tight. The toilets were marine toilets that evacuated into a holding tank that emitted an odor that required you to run the bathroom fan continuously and to close the shower drain with a supplied cover. There is no TV or internet available in the ships cabins. The ship itself is extremely small. The only enclosed public space is the dining room which doubles as the bar and lounge. It is barely large enough to accommodate all of the passengers. The kitchen is extremely small, making it difficult for the cooks to prepare food in a timely manner. We had two services for lunch and dinner with half of the dining room set up for meals and the other half set up as a lounge. Half the passengers literally watch the other half eat because there is nowhere else to go on the ship. It was too cool to lounge on deck and the cabins are claustrophobic. The few times they attempted to serve everyone at one time emphasized the kitchens limitations. It took over an hour and a half from salad to dessert for the Captains Dinner despite the best efforts of the chefs and servers. I should note, the crew from the captain on down did everything they could to make up for the ship. They were friendly, accommodating and hardworking, but were fighting a losing battle. Food was good but the cooks were clearly hampered by the size of the kitchen. The entertainment was also handicapped by the space limitations. For example, the last evening we had a dance featuring a local trio. In order to set up for the dance they asked the passengers to clear the dining room and either visit the bridge or go to their cabins will the crew set up for the dance. Neither option was particularly enticing given the time of night or the size of the cabins. Land tours were interesting but limited. Transportation was via school buses and the ships scheduled did not allow for much free time in port. Internet was available only in the main dining room and streaming services like Facebook were blocked. The internet was weak or nonexistent at times but that is not unusual on river cruises. There is no TV service on board. Overall, I would not recommend this cruise. Another cruise line might be an alternative but given our experience I'd suggest driving the route and staying in hotels along the way. The river towns including Montreal and Quebec offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations and you are in view of the river most of the way. There are numerous day cruises available in various ports if you want to sight see from the river. Clearly, for what we paid for "premium rooms" we could have stayed in five star hotels for a seven day road trip. Read Less
37 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with ... Read More
We [two couples] selected this cruise because we wanted to experience the St Lawrence and the Thousand Islands during the fall. We knew from the brochure and company website that the ship was small but both depicted a cozy environment with small but reasonably comfortable cabins. We paid extra for the Premier Cabins, a huge mistake, see below. The ship itself is extremely small. The only enclosed public space is the dining room which doubles as the bar and lounge. It is barely large enough to accommodate all of the passengers. The kitchen is extremely small, making it difficult for the cooks to prepare food in a timely manner. We had two services for lunch and dinner with half of the dining room set up for meals and the other half set up as a lounge. Half the passengers literally watch the other half eat because there is nowhere else to go on the ship. It was too cool to lounge on deck and the cabins are claustrophobic. The few times they attempted to serve everyone at one time emphasized the kitchens limitations. It took over an hour and a half from salad to dessert for the Captains Dinner despite the best efforts of the chefs and servers. I should note, the crew from the captain on down did everything they could to make up for the ship. They were friendly, accommodating and hardworking, but were fighting a losing battle. Food was good but the cooks were clearly hampered by the size of the kitchen. The entertainment was also handicapped by the space limitations. For example, the last evening we had a dance featuring a local trio. In order to set up for the dance they asked the passengers to clear the dining room and either visit the bridge or go to their cabins while the crew set up for the dance. Neither option was particularly enticing given the time of night or the size of the cabins. Land tours were interesting but limited. Transportation was via school buses and the ships schedule did not allow for much free time in port. Internet was available only in the main dining room and streaming services like Facebook were blocked. The internet was weak or nonexistent at times but that is not unusual on river cruises. There is no TV service on board. Overall, I would not recommend this cruise. Another cruise line might be an alternative but given our experience I'd suggest driving the route and staying in hotels along the way. The river towns including Montreal and Quebec offer a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations and you are in view of the river most of the way. There are numerous day cruises available in various ports if you want to sight see from the river. Clearly, for what we paid for "premium rooms" we could have stayed in five star hotels for a seven day road trip. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We were 1st time cruisers, so we can only say what we liked and what others may have told us. Having read previous reviews we had only modest expectations as we felt we'd be the youngest passengers at 59 and 65 and the age of the ... Read More
We were 1st time cruisers, so we can only say what we liked and what others may have told us. Having read previous reviews we had only modest expectations as we felt we'd be the youngest passengers at 59 and 65 and the age of the Canadian Empress. However, the cruise exceeded our expectations and we had a very good time! We missed being the youngest by a few years, that was a 52-year-old woman accompanying her mother. The ship may be older but she ran well on this trip! We compare life on board to camping in our pop-up camper, only without the extra bed to use as storage. Other passengers told us the tiny cabins are typical of river boats. It was also somewhat noisy - from ships' noises, not passengers - even though nights were spent at dockside. Therefore, we felt a bit sleep deprived at the end of the trip. We were busy every day! Each day combines cruising, fine dining, excursions and entertainment. With the OUTSTANDING weather on this trip, cruising was fantastic, including SPECTACULAR sunsets! Dining included 3 meals each day, due to the capacity crowd, they provided 2 seatings at noon and evening; you had to chose which early or "main" at the beginning of the trip. Snacks were always available at all times in the Lounge (didn't partake), they were also served near the end of each evenings entertainment, plus the great bar Steward kept munchies out at all times. I heard no complaints about the meals even though there was no choice in foods, you got what they served. Meals were also served in smaller portions that usually found at restaurants but, given the frequency with which full meals seemed to occur, we heard no complaints! Our daily 1 or 2 excursions were interesting, especially for history buffs! We learned a lot about early Canadian settlers and their "take" on history, which is somewhat different that I recall from my long-ago U.S. history lessons! Entertainment consisted of local individuals and small groups presenting music, comedy and magic; all were worth seeing. A few things to be aware of: hotels and shopkeepers will accept U.S. dollars but they make about 12% on the deal. I suggest using an ATM and withdraw Canadian dollars, they use an exchange rate very close to the official rate. Having a few hundred Canadian $ provides more than adequate funding for modest purchases along the way and for the recommended gratuity of $10 per person per day. The Holiday Inn at dockside provided an ATM which worked very well, although the one at the Ambassador Hotel would not function with any of the 3 cards presented, perhaps because Canada is using the chip technology we U.S. citizens are soon be offered. The Ambassador, however, is a very nice hotel with very helpful and courteous staff, PLUS they let you park your car for FREE during the trip, a savings of $20-30 USD per day! Things to consider: The Empress has multiple decks connected by steep, narrow stairs; we had several co-passengers with disabilities whom we wondered how they could travel between decks. However, with one possible exception (he may have been satisfied to slightly limit his activities), all seemed to come and go as they wished. Also, excursion transport, all short rides, was provided on school buses, you know; those with bench seats and little ride comfort. We also wanted to go ashore while docked in the evening, primarily for exercise and to get a few supplies (drinks) for our cabin. Strolling was possible at most moorings but shopping at only one. Also, the one mooring location featured a rusty old warehouse wall as the dock-side view , while an "ok" neighborhood in which to stroll it was not at all pretty. The crew was excellent and provided a first class experience to all, right down to the Captain's wild dance floor gyrations! The Stewardesses (their title, really) were well trained even though this was the first trip for 2 of the 4. The Bar/Wine Steward is a phenomenal guy and the consummate professional. The Purser worked her butt off to make things happen and ensure all had a good time, on time! The navigation crew were all very friendly and informative, always willing to explain the various operations which kept them busy! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Smooth sailing!! We were so fortunate to have 24 people on board (capacity is 60 people per the cruise line literature). So easy to communicate with the staff and other passengers. St Lawrence Cruise Lines included all excursion costs ... Read More
Smooth sailing!! We were so fortunate to have 24 people on board (capacity is 60 people per the cruise line literature). So easy to communicate with the staff and other passengers. St Lawrence Cruise Lines included all excursion costs and gratuities for local guides and drivers in the base cost. This was certainly welcome. On board staff were tipped at the end of the cruise. Food was well prepared and cheerfully served with a variety of offerings during the cruise. Half portions and diabetic deserts were offered. Cabins are small, but fine for two people who go there to sleep and use the restroom (plenty of hot water for showers). The excursions were interesting, especially our visit to Upper Canada Village, and logistics were handled well. We were happy to have good weather, which facilitated visiting, watching the boat go through the locks, and reading, knitting, etc.. The evening entertainment includes a flute / guitar duo that provided much enjoyment. Good promotional information facilitated staying both in Quebec City and in Kingston, Ontario. Although the literature suggests dressing up for farewell dinner, in reality, we were able to just be comfortable. The crew seemed to be always busy keeping the boat clean and tidy and the wait staff / cabin attendants could not have been nicer. Maybe a different route next time. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
The cruise of the St. Lawrence River with the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines aboard the Canadian Empress was very disappointing. This is not an inexpensive cruise and one would expect first class service. However the opposite was true. The ... Read More
The cruise of the St. Lawrence River with the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines aboard the Canadian Empress was very disappointing. This is not an inexpensive cruise and one would expect first class service. However the opposite was true. The ship is too old and is beset with mechanical issues the largest of which is the ship's inability to deal with sewage. The boat reeked of sewage and the night cruise of Quebec City on our first night was cancelled due to mechanical issues. We could not hear the captain's explanation of the problem as the sound system was not working. The cabins are very small and ill equipped. Sometimes the showers worked sometimes not and one was never certain if you'd get hot or cold water. The sewage issues persisted throughout the cruise despite two pump outs!! We encountered some very heavy rain on our cruise and the ship had leakage issues as a result. Food is very good. The staff are good and did their best to cope with mechanical breakdowns which were out of their control. The ship could use more staff. Given the price point of this cruise I could not recommend it. It is not good value for money. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We did a six night cruise on the Canadian Empress from Quebec City to Kingston. While there were a few positive aspects, notably very good food and evening entertainment, overall this cruise did not come anywhere close to meeting our ... Read More
We did a six night cruise on the Canadian Empress from Quebec City to Kingston. While there were a few positive aspects, notably very good food and evening entertainment, overall this cruise did not come anywhere close to meeting our expectations. Other reviewers have commented on the small cabins, which is absolutely the case but we could have lived with that. However, we felt that the main problem is that the ship is old (35 years) and has not been maintained to an acceptable standard. Everything looks shabby and tired, and we experienced numerous mechanical problems which impacted our cruise experience. These included a power outage, lack of hot water, lack of cold water (depending on the day), and an engine problem that resulted in cancellation of one of the scheduled itinerary items. What bothered us most was that there were frequent sewage odors not just in our bathroom, but throughout the ship. We felt that the crew worked very hard to make our experience as pleasant as possible. However, we also felt that the ship is staffed at the absolute minimum level, meaning that the service was sometimes slow and cabins and common areas were not kept very clean. Given the price point, we were expecting much more and in our opinion, we did not get what we paid for. In fact, most of the other passengers whom we spoke to about their satisfaction with the cruise told us that they were also very disappointed and would not recommend this cruise to others. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We wanted to have a nice relaxing cruise together with our elderly parents. They are unable to leave Canada because of health reasons. We know that the St Lawrence Seaway is beautiful so it was a great idea. Unfortunately, there ... Read More
We wanted to have a nice relaxing cruise together with our elderly parents. They are unable to leave Canada because of health reasons. We know that the St Lawrence Seaway is beautiful so it was a great idea. Unfortunately, there were many disappointments: the boat is very old and not maintained. While we were on the boat the motor and generator were both having problems, The staff worked very hard to make the boat work and tried to hide the maintenance problems. We missed chances to see the beautiful scenery because of the boat's inability to work properly. There was a strong sewer smell and one room flooded (the people left the ship early). Another cabin's ceiling leaked onto their bed. The rooms are very small - there is not even enough room to put a suitcase in between the 2 single beds. The mattresses are very uncomfortable. The wifi was very intermittent. A new more roomy boat is badly needed. This cruise is very expensive - save your $ and go on a luxury cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
We boarded in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and a trip to Upper Canadian Village, around the Thousand Islands and returned. Lovely ship, very friendly and accommodating crew. If you are looking for luxury cruising, don't do a riverboat, ... Read More
We boarded in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and a trip to Upper Canadian Village, around the Thousand Islands and returned. Lovely ship, very friendly and accommodating crew. If you are looking for luxury cruising, don't do a riverboat, but if you like the smooth St Lawrence River and always being in sight of land and getting to know almost everyone onboard, then you will love this. We had a Premier room with a double bed, one of two on the ship. We had port holes for windows and one of us had to crawl over the other to get out of bed in the night. However, we could sleep together, which was our goal. We also had a sofa, 2 tables and a sink in our cabin. The bathroom was the standard for every cabin, small but effective. We brought one large suitcase and 2 overnighters and had room to store them, but don't bring more! Limited room to hang clothing but storage drawers were 4 if I recall correctly. No laundry facilities. Everything was clean and kept that way. We stopped at The Heritage Museum of the 1,000 Islands, Fulford Mansion, Fort Wellington, UCV and the 1,000 Islands Tower. We stayed onboard for many of these stops as it rained every single day, however umbrellas were provided and we could have gone, as did most people. The food was good, though I would stop short of saying really creative. We had food for 3 meals, afternoon tea and evenings during the entertainment. We were never hungry. The menu was varied and they made allowances for preferences and allergies if you told them in advance. Nightly entertainment included comedians/musicians and magic/comedy. We stayed up for 2 and were highly entertained. As I said before, not a luxury cruise but we liked it a lot and would do it again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
We boarded the Canadian Empress at Quebec City ready for our six night cruise up the St. Lawrence River/Seaway. We sailed to Trois Rivieres, Montreal, Upper Canada Village, Brockville, Gananoque, and finally disembarked in Kingston, ... Read More
We boarded the Canadian Empress at Quebec City ready for our six night cruise up the St. Lawrence River/Seaway. We sailed to Trois Rivieres, Montreal, Upper Canada Village, Brockville, Gananoque, and finally disembarked in Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian Empress is a replica steamboat to resemble those in the early 1900's. The rooms were very small, but big enough to manage once you had a routine set up. We had two twin beds, one of which could be put up during the day; however, we kept both of them down and it worked out fine. There were 48 passengers on our cruise and we got to know most of them by the end of the cruise. The hospitality staff was great. They served our meals and also made up our rooms. The meals were very good and varied. The galley staff took care of special dietary requests to the best of their ability. The navigation staff was very personable and knowledgable and you were able to talk with them at any time. Lorne, our cruise director, did a great job in moving things along, even though the ship had a small mechanical issue. For the most part, it did not affect any of our activities except for one. The land excursions were good, but I felt they were not long enough, however, we had to leave to get to the next port. So much of the travel on the river depended on marine traffic through the locks.   Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
Hubby and I recently returned from a delightful six night, actually two - three night cruises aboard the Canadian Empress, the one and only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines company. We cruised from Kingston, Ontario to Montreal and ... Read More
Hubby and I recently returned from a delightful six night, actually two - three night cruises aboard the Canadian Empress, the one and only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruise Lines company. We cruised from Kingston, Ontario to Montreal and back through the Thousand Islands and several locks and canals of the St. Lawrence Seaway. We drove to the port. You could drop off your luggage when you arrived in Kingston. The company had arrangements with some of the local hotels for secure parking. Embarcation was easy and all were onboard in minutes - easy to do with only 32 passengers. The Canadian Empress is a replica of a river boat, including pressed tin ceilings. It is a small ship that can accommodate up to 66 passengers and 12 crew. All rooms are compact - think small inside cabins on the big cruise ships. All cabins are outsides and have windows that actually open. Most cabins have two twin beds, one of them folds up into the wall during the day for more floor space. There are a few rooms with a double bed. The Grand Salon is where all meals are served, where the bar is located and evening entertainment is held. This room could have felt crowded if the ship had been sailing full or if there had been a greater need for dry space outside of one's cabin. There are covered outside decks at both the front and aft of the ship. The top deck is aptly called the Sun Deck. There are lounge and deck chairs to enjoy the views along the St. Lawrence. There is also shuffle board and checkers available to play. Meals were wonderful. As with most cruises there was always plenty of food. Breakfast featured one entrEe but there were other options, including the fresh baked muffins that were marvelous. Lunch was a fixed menu each day but there was ample food if you didn't like part of the menu. There were two meat selections offered each night - you selected it the night before, but it was only so the cook, Joe, would have an idea how much of each to prepare. Half portions were available at each meal. There were always snacks and beverages available and the bar was rarely closed. Each evening there was some sort of prepared snack during the evening's entertainment. I was impressed with the healthy variety of the menu. Every member of the crew has multiple jobs on this ship. They were all very friendly and interactive with the passengers. Often the Captain, Mate and Engineer ate dinner with the passengers as we were already docked for the night. The CD/Purser was busy helping with meal service and getting the evening's entertainment set up. Tours of the wheel house and engine room were easy to arrange if you wanted to see them up close. Excursions along the way - usually local museums with history of the St. Lawrence or Canada - were included in the cruise fare. Our favorite was the Upper Canada Village, a recreated 1800's village. Some of these buildings were moved to this location prior to the flooding that created the St. Lawrence. Evening entertainment was team trivia, a magician and a musician, one each night of each cruise. At various times there was commentary about what we were viewing at the time with some of the Seaway history included. We were also each given a booklet copy of these narrations. Whenever we met another commercial ship the captain would announce its name, type of cargo and other information about it. Passengers were older, generally well travelled couples. (DH and I were the "babies", although not my much, on the first half and we're in our early sixties.) All were friendly and looked out for one another. On-board friendships developed quickly. We took this cruise because we wanted to do something different. We also have wanted to see the 1000 Islands and were not disappointed with the scenery. This was also our time to relax before starting the fall schedule so the laid back atmosphere was just what we wanted. We will consider cruising on the Canadian Empress again sometime in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2010
I have wanted to cruise in the 1000 Islands and on the St. Lawrence River for some time, so I have been looking at this cruise line for years! We finally got a date that worked! The cruise met all my expectations and then some. The small ... Read More
I have wanted to cruise in the 1000 Islands and on the St. Lawrence River for some time, so I have been looking at this cruise line for years! We finally got a date that worked! The cruise met all my expectations and then some. The small crew was fantastic! Although the cabins are very small, they are certainly adequate. And who wants to stay in the cabin when there was so much to see and do? The ports of call interesting. We learned a lot of history and fascinating facts about the areas. All the shore excursions were well organized. The Cruise Director joked about our "stretch limos". They were really school buses, but the rides were short. The food was delicious. They offered 1/2 portions, so that was a plus. I only gained 5 pounds! This is not a cruise for a family with small children. Most of the passengers were in the 60 to 80 range, most quite active. They were an interesting collection from many locations -- Canada, Texas, Australia, Hawaii, Florida, California, New York. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2009
Very little has been written about the Canadian Empress so we approached our trip with little or no information about the ship or the cruise itself.This is a small ship, the only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruises company.  it is ... Read More
Very little has been written about the Canadian Empress so we approached our trip with little or no information about the ship or the cruise itself.This is a small ship, the only ship of the St. Lawrence Cruises company.  it is headquartered in Kingston, Ontario, and sails a summer schedule of trips of various lengths along the St. Lawrence Seaway.   Our trip began in Kingston and ended in Ottawa.   We flew into Ottawa, spent two nights at the wonderful Chateau Laurier and then took the train down to Kingston about two and a half hours.   We spent one night in Kingston.  A nice little town but not worth more than one night.  Great B&B there The Frontenac Club Inn.We boarded the ship at 5:30 p.m.   The ship is very punctual.  No boarding early and it departs right at 6:30 p.m.  Guests should plan accordingly.The Empress accommodates 60 passengers.  Our trip over Canada Day and 4th of July had 31 guests.  The cruise director described this as a "light" summer.   The ship is running about half capacity for most of its trips.   While this is difficult for the company, it's great for the passengers.    The normal two seatings were merged into one.   There was an abundance of extra seats on the upper deck and other outside areas.    As we had two days of rainy, fairly cold weather, this was a real plus.CABINS As you would expect, the cabins are small.   There are several with double beds but most have two bunks, one that folds down during the day.   Toilet must be pumped.   Overall, we did not find the size to be a problem.   We were, however, ready to get off after 5 nights and looked forward to our king bed!   The attendant was excellent and the room and the ship overall are very well maintained and very clean.FOOD The hospitality crew on the ship rotates.  We had Joe as chef and he was outstanding.  Really, really good food.   Lots of fresh vegetables, 2 fish entrees that were very good, and a prime rib as good as I've ever had.  The highlight, unfortunately, was Joe's breads and pastries.  Homemade bread with every meal, including breakfast and an apple pie to die for.  No complaints.ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT   The ship makes at least one stop a day along the St. Lawrence for a tour.  Given the places available, they do a pretty good job.  The best, without question, was the tour of the Upper Canada Village, Canada's Williamsburg.   Surprisingly, the school bus tour of the animal park in Montebello was great fun, mostly due to the antics of the passengers who really got into the trip in spite of a misting rain and temps in the 60's.   The least interesting was the tour of Montreal, largely due to the guide, who told jokes and did not seen so interested in sharing the history or the sites of the city.  A disapointment.The evening's entertainment was actually quite good all brought in from the local area and all who sought to capture the Canadian spirit, with a few American tunes along the way.   The last night's "dance band", a trio, led to a lively evening of dancing, singing and fun.PASSENGERS Given the size of the ship and the vageries of the weather, this cruise is more dependent than most on the make-up of the passengers.  We were very lucky.  A great group which ran the gamut from a very successful real estate developer, several retired foreign service couples, a fireman and a realtor.   The vast majority of passengers were retired, age 65 and above but they were lively, informed, and full of zest.   WOULD WE DO IT AGAIN?   This was a very nice trip, again largely due to the fellow passengers, the great food, and the scenery.  The Thousand Islands are beautiful and best seen from the water.   There were a number of repeat passengers on the ship.   I don't know as I would do it again but I did feel we more than got our money's worth and we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Seaway.   Just be aware this is not the typical cruise experience.   Go in with reasonable expections and they will be exceeded. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2009
First let my say we went with no expectations.We knew the ship was small and the cabins were small.One bed folds up on the wall during the day to give more room.Hanging space is very limited.Cabins 34 and 35  have a double bed (well not ... Read More
First let my say we went with no expectations.We knew the ship was small and the cabins were small.One bed folds up on the wall during the day to give more room.Hanging space is very limited.Cabins 34 and 35  have a double bed (well not really)If you are over 5' 9" you hit the wall at each end and the curve of the hull on one side takes away more space.You need to crawl over the other person to get in/out of bed.The age of the passengers was from mid 50's to 90, most were over 70.We had 30 passengers on our cruise and we were two of the younger ones (61 & 62).ACTIVITIES:Daily puzzles,Trivia, bingo, shuffleboard, nightly entertainment, shore excursions Entertainment was good with local talent. We had a magician, a guitarist/singer, a flutist and guitarist,  a comedian/guitarist and a trio. Shore trips included in the cruise were: Fulford Mansion in Brockville, Fort Wellington in Prescott, Old Montreal and trip to the Cosmosdome, Upper Canada Village, trip to the 1000 Island Skydeck and lots of locks during the trip.FOOD:The meals were fair to good.Breakfast was one special of the day plus  cold cereal, oatmeal, toast, muffins, juices, fruit.Lunch was usually a hot meal with soup or a small salad. (no choice of entrees)One day we had hamburger buffet with several salad choices.For dinner you had two choices which you chose the night before.Late night snack consisted of small hot or cold hors-d' oeuvresMuffins, coffee, tea, lemonade or iced tea were available during the day at the self serve station.Food portions were small and quality was inconsistent. Sometimes the food was not cooked well or overcooked. Vegetables were usually mushy and overcooked.A couple of the fish meals tasted off and smelled fishy (fresh fish should not smell).If you do not like either of the dinner or lunch entree they have no provisions for a substitute meal.Drink prices were very reasonable and soft drinks were free.PROS: The crew was very good. Ted the bartender and Marc the purser made a good team.Small ship, relaxing cruise.CONS:Not much time in port, just enough for the excursionsFood portions & selections They need to start marketing to the younger seniors. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2005
While reading this review, keep several facts in mind. 1) My wife and I were by far the youngest of all the passengers (46 and 36). 2) I had never been to this area of the world before, so everything was exciting and new to me. 3) We were ... Read More
While reading this review, keep several facts in mind. 1) My wife and I were by far the youngest of all the passengers (46 and 36). 2) I had never been to this area of the world before, so everything was exciting and new to me. 3) We were accompanied by my in-laws (in their 60s). Good or bad, they were great to hang with and very good sports when the weather was less than perfect. 4) We are not cruise virgins having sailed on many large cruise ships to very exotic ports (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, etc.). Although, we were new to the river cruising club. That said, the cruise was excellent. We were told on the first night that our rooms would expand after six days and they did. We were warned that the food would be more than we could handle, and it was. We thought that we were more of the 'Loner' type, but made friends quickly and effortlessly. The excursions seemed interesting prior to sailing, but they were much more than that. First, the rooms...can you say petite? Can you say tiny? Can you imagine a room for two so small that you cannot both get dressed at the same time? I kid you not! We did have the least expensive of the rooms, but the others were not much larger if at all. This is where the old saying comes in, "you don't spend time in your room anyway except to sleep." You will get used to it after a couple of days. No use complaining because the staff understands already and do everything in their power to make it comfortable. Tip: pack very light. There isn't any room for a big bag and you cannot unpack into a closet or dresser. There isn't one! Second, the food was excellent. All cruise have good food I guess and this is no exception. My only reservation is that every meal is a big hot heavy production. Beautiful, yes. Delicious, absolutely. But sometimes all you want is a turkey sandwich. Ugh...ten pound gain later...back to the treadmill. Third, everyone on board is retirement age. The average was probably high 60s to low 70s (age not the weather temperature). Of these cruisers, they were all great and will be friends forever. There were only 39 total cruisers on board our trip. There were 11 staff including the captain and first mate. The ratio was great and people like Ted (shuffleboard master) made everything a joy (sorry had to get in a plug for my buddy). Overall, I would recommend this cruise line and ship to anyone (even you youngsters...hehehe). We traveled from Quebec City to Kingston which was beautiful. The 1000 islands and the Upper Canada Village were the highlights of the cruise. Tip: stay a couple of nights in Quebec City. It is beautiful, historic, and a great shopping destination. Read Less
Canadian Empress Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins N/A 2.8
Dining 3.0 4.1
Entertainment 2.0 3.8
Public Rooms N/A 3.5
Fitness Recreation N/A 2.1
Family 1.0 2.1
Rates 3.0 3.8

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