All Great Lakes cruises that travel from the lower Lakes to Lake Superior have to pass through the Soo Locks. There is simply no other water connection between Superior and the other Lakes that is capable of moving ships. The Soo Locks are a marvel that rank among the great engineering triumphs of the world. Capable of handling ships over 1000 feet long, the locks operate most of the year, raising and lowering ships 21 feet as they pass from lake to lake.

The locks are located on the border between the United States and Canada in the area of Northern Michigan. A lock-tour cruise is available to those wanting to view the locks and experience the feeling of “locking through.” This is a small ship cruise made on a day-trip basis. From the city of Sault Ste. Marie, your cruise ship will depart on a 2 hour narrated tour of the locks that will not only move you from lake to lake, but from the US side to the Canadian side and back again, for Sault Ste. Marie itself is found on both sides of the river and bills itself as Michigan’s oldest City.

The tour company operates a fleet of 5 boats, so you can imagine this is a pretty popular day-cruise. The boats used for these small ship cruises are climate controlled and have restrooms and snack bars.

Soo Locks Boat Tour’s rates are somewhat lower than other 2 hour tours I’ve examined, with the fare being $21 for adults and $10.50 for children 5 to 12. The company is advertising that no passports are required in 2009 for any of their tours. This is an important consideration as new changes in the law have made some form of passport or enhanced driver’s license necessary for many tours that land at Canadian ports. These Great Lakes cruises operate 3 times a day through the second half of May and all of June, and 12 times a day in July through mid-August. Tours continue at a slower pace in September and October. Most days, tours begin around 10:00 am with the last departure being between 3:00 and 5:00 depending on the time of year. No reservations are required, but it might help to call ahead to verify the schedule.

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