Why Cleveland — yes, Cleveland — might be the hottest new cruise destination in North America
20.09.2023 - 15:45
Is Cleveland the hottest new cruise destination in America?
Judging by the enormous growth of cruise ship arrivals in the city, you could make the argument. C-Town, as some locals call it, expects 49 ship visits this year when all is said and done, a whopping 700% increase from just two years ago.
The arrivals include the first visit by a vessel sailing for upscale tour company Tauck in its 98-year history. The 184-passenger vessel chartered from the French line Ponant Cruises, called Le Dumont-d'Urville, visited for the first time Sept. 9.
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Also visiting Cleveland for the first time this summer was Viking Polaris, the new expedition-style ship from upscale cruise giant Viking. The 378-passenger vessel will visit Cleveland twice in September alone.
Both ships are visiting the port city along the banks of Lake Erie as part of broader Great Lakes cruises.
The two vessels join frequent Cleveland visitor Ocean Navigator, a 202-passenger vessel operated by small-ship specialist American Queen Voyages. Ocean Navigator is a regular on Great Lakes sailings that also stop at multiple destinations across the region.
In one of the quirkiest ship arrivals that Cleveland has seen in some time, a German cruise ship full of Germans is scheduled to make a rare appearance in the city later this month and again in October. The 394-passenger Hamburg is operated by the German cruise brand Plantours and is known for taking German travelers to far-flung places around the world.
Related: The ultimate guide to cruising the Great Lakes
Another small-ship cruise line, Pearl Seas Cruises, also has Cleveland on its schedule this year.
The Cleveland cruising boom is happening as the fast-growing cruise industry looks for new destinations for expansion.
Of all of the world's major waterways, the Great Lakes region, where Cleveland is located, has traditionally been one of the least-visited by cruise vessels. The summer season, when the Great Lakes are reachable by passenger ships, is typically a time when cruise lines send the bulk of their vessels to Europe and Alaska, where demand for cruises is strong.
However, as the cruise industry expands, it is eyeing more off-the-beaten-path places such as the Great Lakes — and ports such as Cleveland — that can offer an alternative adventure for well-traveled cruisers.
For cruisers, such voyages offer an easy way to see a wide range of the Great Lakes region's attractions — from vibrant cities to natural wonders — in a single trip. Cleveland, which has changed enormously since its river famously caught fire in the 1960s, is increasingly seen as a highlight of the sailings.
As our sister publication Lonely