The next decade is almost upon us, and now is the time to start thinking about a Great Lakes cruise next summer. While there are still some Christmas cruises available from the southern ports like Chicago, most of the northern ports are closed for the season, waiting for the spring thaw and refitting the small ships that provide these ultra pleasant cruises.

Now is the time to start planning if you want to take one of these cruises in the summer of 2010. Many of the cruise lines are already taking reservations, or will begin shortly, and it is wise to start thinking about the particular cruise you might like to take and what part of the Great Lakes you would like to see.

Cruises on the Lakes tend to fall into one of several categories. For starters, there are the day and dinner cruises. These may last most of one day or only part of it. Dinner cruises usually last only a couple of hours, during which time you are treated not only to a cruise, but also to a scrumptious dinner. Chicago, Ilinois is famous for party cruises with live music, dancing and cocktails. Traverse City, Michigan is known for the tall ship that offers ice cream socials around the beautiful Traverse Bay area. Toronto, Ontario is also known for its own fleet of tall ships. Lake Erie has the Goodtime cruise ship. All of these offer short dinner cruises or day excursions.

The second category of cruises falls under the adventure heading. Chicago steps up again to offer cruises on the Schooner Red Witch or high speed thrills on the speedboat Seadog. Traverse City has its own tall ship, the Manitou which makes some trips every year that are several days long. If you want one of these, you had better speak up early because they sell these highly desirable berths fast.

The third category is in the luxury class. Tours on ships like the Clelia II which offer weeks long excursions on state-of-the-art cruise ships. These tours are offered both as regular sightseeing tours and with themes like golf and color tours.

The small ship cruises offered on the Great Lakes are fun, educational and best of all close to home. You are never out of U.S. or Canadian waters. European cruises and Caribbean cruises are fun and most people think of them when you mention the word “cruising,” but Great Lakes cruises are about home. The Lakes are the largest resource on the face of the planet and most of the people in the United states and Canada have never toured them, maybe never even had the chance to stand on the beach and look at this natural wonder.

Consider a Great Lakes cruise next year. Even if you can’t afford the luxury kind, day cruises, dinner cruises and sightseeing tours often can be had for around $30, which is about one tank of gas for the family car.

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