The Great Lakes will once again see the return of the cruise ship Columbus in 2011. The Columbus is operated by Hapag-Lloyd of Germany. After being missing from the Great Lakes for several years the Columbus will return in September of 2011 offering tours from Toronto to Chicago, and from Chicago to Toronto and then from Toronto onto Miami.

The Columbus is a 400+ passenger state-of-the-art luxury cruise ship, built in 1997. At 473 feet long, the ship has a 71 foot beam, and gross tons of 15,000. This makes the Columbus one of the larger cruise ships that will be working the Great Lakes next summer. There are a number of domestic cruise lines offering luxury cruises, but only a few operate ships that are quite so large or as luxurious. For residents of the US and Canada, the Columbus offers an added attraction because it is operated by a foreign crew, giving passengers a feeling that they’re farther away from home than they may actually be.

The month of September can sometimes be a stormy one on the Great Lakes, but can also be one of the more pleasant months of the year. Spring months are often filled with storms and late fall beginning in October and bring many cold rains. This leaves June, July, August, and September as the prime cruise months. September is the end of the main cruise season, a time when the leaves on the trees begin to take on brilliant hues of orange, red and yellow, which can make this a beautiful time for touring the Great Lakes. The evenings are frequently cool, and the days are generally still warm to enjoy without a jacket, although those on the water will want to consider bringing warm clothing.

As always, there are a number of other options available for anyone wanting to take a color tour cruise. These range from small boats to large ships, and from cruises that last only a few hours to those that last several days or a couple of weeks; all of the Great Lakes have at least some options available for color tour cruises.

Generally Great Lakes cruises are all small ship cruises, because the size of the ships that sail the Great Lakes is dictated in large part by the size of the channels the ships have to pass through to enter the Great Lakes and by the depth of the harbors, which tend to be shallower than those found on the oceans. The Columbus just fits within the small ship category as it carries less than five hundred passengers and that makes it able to enter the Great Lakes with ease, carrying passengers in both directions.

The great advantage to sailing on small ships is that they provide a much more intimate cruise experience than you would find on the larger cruise ships which are basically small cities at sea. You get a chance to know me to and no some of your fellow passengers, and you may even get a chance to learn a little bit about the crew and a few crew members.

If you’re planning a Great Lakes cruise in 2011, you might want to remember that the Columbus is returning to the Lakes once again, and consider booking your cruise on what is perhaps one of the most interesting luxury cruise ships working the Lakes.

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