The Grand Mariner offers a Great Lakes cruise with style. This Great Lakes ship offers several cruises on Lake Michigan every year along with numerous other Great Lakes tours and even cruises on other waterways. Commissioned in 1994, and operated by the American Carribean Line, the Grand Mariner is 183 feet long and with only 50 cabins has a passenger capacity of 100. This qualifies as a small ship cruise by almost any definition.

There are several different varieties of cabins available on the Grande Mariner. Some open onto the outside deck and some open onto an inside corridor. Cabins are available with two lower berths or with upper and lower berths. A few cabins have both a double lower berth and a single upper berth. As this ship is smaller than the competing Clelia II and a bit more austere, the cabins are also smaller and less luxurious.

With that difference noted, there are some features of the Grande Mariner that the Clelia II cannot match. One is the bow ramp which allows passengers to simply walk off the ship without the need to worry about jetties and docks. Another is the extremely shallow draft of the ship, which allows it to enter shallow coastal waters where other ships dare not go.

There are also two launches, one of which has a glass bottom. Glass bottomed boats are somewhat of a rarity in Great Lakes tours, and they offer an excellent opportunity to explore sunken ships, rock formations and to view the numerous species of fresh water fish that inhabit the Lakes. The Grande Mariner has a large dining room on the main deck and an auditorium/lounge on the second deck that can accommodate all passengers.

This small ship cruise on The Grande Mariner embarks from Chicago with stops at Holland, Michigan, Manistee, Michigan, Mackinaw Island, Michigan, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin before returning to Chicago. There are seven different waterways that the ship passes through to reach these ports and some terrific scenery.

The published prices for the 2010 Grande Mariner Lake Michigan Getaway cruise run between $1800 and $2200 depending on the cabin choice. There is an additional port charge of $100 that is also shown. Cruise dates begin June and end in late July. This could be the perfect Great Lakes cruise and one of only a few on Lake Michigan. On a small ship cruise like this, there is always the chance for adventure in the small and large port cities where the ship calls and as Great Lakes cruises go, this one offers as nice a selection of ports as any other.

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