October 9–16, 2023

Your guide
Karen Murchie
Shedd Aquarium director of freshwater research

$6,270 to $22,400, depending on room selection and occupancy; excludes onshore meals and airfare

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Email Shannon Fuller at sfuller@sheddaquarium.org.

If your idea of a cruise involves drinking bottomless margaritas while shirtless, reset your expectations. On this voyage, you’ll sail from Toronto to Milwaukee aboard Le Dumont-d’Urville, a small-capacity ship operated by Ponant, a luxury French cruise line, in conjunction with Smithsonian Journeys. Along the way, Karen Murchie will explain why the Great Lakes are so, well, great — and not just ecologically. You’ll stand a few feet from the spray of Niagara Falls, join the M’Chigeeng First Nation community for a traditional powwow ceremony on Manitoulin Island, and hike along the rocky shoreline of Killbear Provincial Park in Ontario. 

About the guide: The Shedd Aquarium freshwater expert has studied ecosystems from the Arctic to the Amazon, but she’s especially passionate about the Great Lakes: “A lot of times, we look at the lake as the source of our drinking water or somewhere we go boating or swimming. But there are some really cool animals with awesome life histories and a number of fish that make incredible migrations.”

Bring: Dramamine. Don’t let the “lake” label fool you — waves on Lake Michigan can top out at 23 feet during October storms. 

Watch for: Suckers. Those are the bottom-feeding fish that Murchie calls “the wildebeest of the Great Lakes,” a nod to their impressive migration patterns. Murchie is your best bet for finding them: Part of her research has involved planting in suckers the same microchip that’s in your I-Pass transponder.