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Our Great Lakes magical mystery tour


uktog
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Thanks for the heads-up on the taxi timing. The idea of a drink on the porch is tempting, but I think my plan will be something from the ice cream parlor and then a walk back to town. And maybe more ice cream in town while I do some souvenir shopping.

 

Clever of AQV to show the movie. The book it's based on takes place in another grand old hotel, the Hotel Del Coronado in California, but I can see how much easier it would be to film on an island without cars and their noise. 

 

@Host Jazzbeau, if you go, stay overnight. You can enjoy the quiet of the town before all the daytrippers on ferries (and cruise ships) arrive. We rented bikes and rode the loop around the island, and I went horseback riding. That was probably 25 years ago, when I was more spry!

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I remember a friend telling me about his trip there – probably around when you are referring.  He said that as a city boy he was used to looking left and right before crossing the street, but on Mackinac Island with all the horses ... you also have to look down!

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10 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

I remember a friend telling me about his trip there – probably around when you are referring.  He said that as a city boy he was used to looking left and right before crossing the street, but on Mackinac Island with all the horses ... you also have to look down!

And try not to get the front row in the carriage- one of the horses on our three carriage George got a load off his mind and elsewhere on an uphill part of the trip. Glad we were in row 3 😂

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1 minute ago, uktog said:

And try not to get the front row in the carriage- one of the horses on our three carriage George got a load off his mind and elsewhere on an uphill part of the trip. Glad we were in row 3 😂

 

Now, THAT is a very good bit of advice!

 

I hope they still sell the "lies they tell on Mackinac Island" t-shirt. The one I bought a long time ago has been demoted to rag status. There were items like "the fudge has no calories," but the best one was the last, "you get used to the smell."

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1 hour ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

We rented bikes and rode the loop around the island, and I went horseback riding. That was probably 25 years ago, when I was more spry!

Does the ship carry and loan out bicycles like their riverboats do?

I would prefer that means of transportation over riding on a horse drawn carriage…

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1 hour ago, bob brown said:

Does the ship carry and loan out bicycles like their riverboats do?

I would prefer that means of transportation over riding on a horse drawn carriage…

No they did not but there’s a huge hire facility on the pier

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Escanaba- first thing to be aware if you booked a premium excursion here they were all cancelled- no reason given except head office sent them a memo. I know that disappointed some - my suspicion logistically it was impossible they are only running two buses and they had to do hoho (morning only, again an issue for some) and out to the Native Dance performance in the afternoon 

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Here is the route. 
As it was Voyagers first time in Escanaba the captain had to be given the keys of the city and we had the band and media following us everywhere 

IMG_0611.thumb.jpeg.a38b9cca09f9288cc8dea1aa6e2a8131.jpegThe welcome was so genuine and they 

kept showering us with goodies - cup cakes on the pier (they were excellent)

A yooper bar at Stop 1 where we also bought chocolate gifts

IMG_0618.thumb.jpeg.dfa47702b7ed1f4112ce91b3f36d3c80.jpegAnd lovely people serving coffee and cookies at stop 2 which was such an interesting place. The Military museum was one of the best small museums we’ve seen, focusing on the service of those from the area and the displays about Webster Marble were so professional- this isn’t a hokey small town set up. 
I particularly liked Websters words of wisdom 

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We skipped the art gallery and chose to see the beautiful lighthouse instead as time was getting short (with only two buses the gaps between were nearer 30 minutes than the advertised 20 and we left late because again some in the big group think the buses run to their schedule not the advertised one!!) 

IMG_0624.thumb.jpeg.1ed6f9e455ea89539b15d6dbd90eb794.jpegWe returned to the port to find more goodies for us - delicious iced cinnamon buns. This place may appear to have little going for it (it is like a ghost town many places closed) but the residents really want to welcome passengers

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The afternoon included tour was a 30 minute drive out to the reservation for the most beautifully narrated and delivered programme of Native American dancing and an explanation of culture- I will let the photos do the talking for many particularly those who have done Niagara previously this was the high spot of the cruise 

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Back on the ship we had the captain farewell toast (very very brief he doesn’t really engage with guests that’s ok) but they brought some crew to the stage IMG_0709.thumb.jpeg.dc3a6a62485f133168a40829b6aa2253.jpeg

 

Dinner was good though we could see some waiters struggled to serve the numbers. The wait staff are good, try hard but are not as polished as those on ocean ships 

IMG_0710.thumb.jpeg.9ba8abdb17140cb1099011e649933d31.jpegIt was a pleasant dinner (if a touch cold) at the end of a busy day. 
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Ooh, all those welcome goodies look/sound delicious! A maiden call is always fun. It sounds like Escanaba is very happy to have guests, and in need of them, too. I doubt we will be feted so generously, as my cruise is the third visit there on Voyager (plus Naviagator will have visits by then). OTOH, maybe they will have found time to organize the tours and buses better. Two buses doesn't sound like enough for 200 passengers.

 

Sorry to hear the large group is throwing their weight around. On a small ship, a group's impact can be felt more and there's little you can do about it. 

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Except work on your tactics to enjoy things despite them!

 

We are heading back to Chicago at 4 knots 😱 but found a perfect spot with our books 

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Thanks for this interesting thread!

 

Raised in Ontario, we are familiar with many of the waterways/ports you are experiencing and enjoy your enthusiasm for them.

 

We have looked at the Viking itinerary on the Great Lakes but it is very expensive. Probably because they have built a special ship that can navigate the Welland Canal and there are more stops in Canada.

 

This cruise appears to be a nice alternative.

 

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On 5/21/2023 at 6:59 AM, uktog said:

Cleveland was a city that surprised. Some guests onboard said they wouldn’t be getting off it was a dreadful place. We are glad we ignored them. 
The ship is using AQ hop on off buses that travel along with us so we will get to know the drivers. Today the drivers are getting to know the routes as it’s their first time. So there were glitches. 
First everyone had to come off the ship to the immigration building and officially enter the US. (little green roof building at the end of the pier) 
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It was a painless process with very pleasant officers- although too many guests did not seem to understand simple instructions so it took longer to clear the ship than planned (yes you may be a US citizen you still have to go!!)

The HoHo did four stops

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1.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What can we say except wow, three hours gone in a blink could have stayed longer

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2. The International Women’s Air and Space Museum - em well this is a very small collection of artefacts in a foyer of a private airport- not worth the stop made worse by the fact the bus forgot to pull in to pick us up

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3. The Rockerfeller Greenhouses- pretty gardens though the ones we drove by themed by country were more interesting 

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4.  Downtown- it was Saturday nothing was happening!

 

We did, however, enjoy our time. If we were back again in Cleveland we would just do the ride around to see the city on the bus, then head back to the rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame where you have all day in and out entry via a wristband.  We would also buy admission to the Lakeside science centre next to it which a lot of people said really was exceptionally good.


One glitch we found is that we returned the vessel just before two and found by the time we had got onboard there was absolutely no lunch facilities open. Unfortunately the only cookies out both contained nuts so my dear husband did have a very long wait until dinner. I do think this is something American Queen that should look at - on the Mississippi there was always something available, but it doesn’t appear to be the case here. 
 

We heard those who went on the Amish adventure had a wonderful time. 
 

As far as we can tell the ship is pretty full. The only time the grill has been closed was the second night where they were doing the welcome dinner onboard. 
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The entertainment continues to be very good and appropriate to the age of the audience 

 

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Glad you enjoyed Cleveland! There’s so much more to see and do here than what you were able to accomplish in your limited time!

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On 5/25/2023 at 7:20 AM, uktog said:

Today was such a gem - Mackinac Island, car free and lovely sightseeing on a sunny but cool day to the sound of the horses gently walking along pulling carriages. The simplicity of the island summed up by this photo- the cutest Amazon delivery ever. 
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The logistics for the day are of necessity a little complicated exacerbated yet again by shorex giving out wrong or misleading information which has been the one negative of the trip (it’s happened again for tomorrow with an illogically ordered presentation covering the afternoon first because the presenter doesn’t know how to fix PowerPoint and am and pm confused in timings - all basic but unhelpful and the constant excuse of not being aware of what the tourist people do is not helpful). 
 

So here’s what happens in Mackinac. 
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Everyone has to join a trip at 0830 that’s the only option. You walk to the end of the pier and are loaded onto two horse carriages for 20 people (and you are expected to split up if need be they insist each carriage leaves full) You have a lovely guided tour through town

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and up to Surrey Hills where you change to a 30 person three horse carriage.
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There is time for a little shopping and restrooms during the changeover. 
 

The three horse carriage does about an hours drive with narration through beautiful woods

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and includes a short stop at the stunning viewpoint at Arch rock. 
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You then head down to the fascinating fort where you have c45 minutes (restroom available) and there are cannon firing or musket firing demos depending on when you are there. 
 

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You then change to a horse taxi (2 horse 20  passengers) for a ride to the Grand Hotel.

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Here is where the information is wrong. Although the ship pays entry to the hotel and gives you a taxi ticket back to town it only became clear on the day and was not correctly covered in the presentation the previous evening if you want to go into the hotel for a look there is no time unless you stay up there until 1330. This is because 1200-1330 is when they rest the horses (fair enough). 
 

Those on the tour doing the grand luncheon premium package have that between 1200 -1330 so it works for them. 
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What did we do?  Well realising the ships lunch closed at 1330 (another little negative there’s no joined up thinking between catering and excursions in relation to breakfast or lunch timing) we decided not to let these stupid things spoil the day.
 

(Walking the 20 minutes back was an option we dismissed).

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So we sat on the beautiful porch, ordered expensive cocktails and two sharing plates and drank in the beautiful view.

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We really enjoyed that and were glad not to have been stuck in the very crowded buffet which we heard very mixed reports about (and spent $100 less!)

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Another ride to town we walked along through the very sweet smell of fudge and stopped to sample and watch some being made. 
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Back to the ship to sit out and enjoy the view - er no - there were clouds and swarms of flies everywhere  - a spring hazard we hear so we retreated indoors. 
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We did see yet again the movie being shown really did tie into the destination which was lovely 

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Another good dinner and the Swing Music night ended a lovely day. 
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The communication of the logistics could have been far better but we created a very memorable day regardless. 
 

 

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Those “flies” are called midges. Surprised you didn’t encounter them in Cleveland-they’re all over our window screens. We get them every May!

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45 minutes ago, wjfan417 said:

Those “flies” are called midges. Surprised you didn’t encounter them in Cleveland-they’re all over our window screens. We get them every May!

Oh we have their fierce toothed Scottish cousins too 😂😂

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Just now, uktog said:

Oh we have their fierce toothed Scottish cousins too 😂😂

We got well acquainted with them on a hike at Knockan Crag (from Ullapool on the Viking British Isles Explorer cruise).  When I took my cap off back onboard there was a line of bites at the brimline across my forehead that made me look like Frankenstein!

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5 hours ago, aerial306 said:

As an Upper Peninsula local (Keweenaw area), I've been dying to see the Escanaba reviews! I'm glad you enjoyed your quick visit! It has been all over the local news that the ship was coming. 

Yes I got interviewed because my husband and I were the only guests not from US or Canada. I really got the sense of pride of the Yoopers and their welcome was so genuine 

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Speaking of Milwaukee, I remember a famous beer slogan from there.  And speaking of that, I also remember this infamous joke:

 

There was a baseball relief pitcher named Milt Famous.  On the day of a doubleheader, after the first game he and the other pitchers who had already been used went to a bar and had a few beers.  Then the second game went into extra innings and Milt was called on again – but he was a little 'under the weather' and walked in the winning run.  In the press conference after the game, the 'winning' batter said "That was the beer that made Milt Famous walk me!"

 

[ok, I'll go to my room...]

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3 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

Speaking of Milwaukee, I remember a famous beer slogan from there.  And speaking of that, I also remember this infamous joke:

 

There was a baseball relief pitcher named Milt Famous.  On the day of a doubleheader, after the first game he and the other pitchers who had already been used went to a bar and had a few beers.  Then the second game went into extra innings and Milt was called on again – but he was a little 'under the weather' and walked in the winning run.  In the press conference after the game, the 'winning' batter said "That was the beer that made Milt Famous walk me!"

 

[ok, I'll go to my room...]

I used to drink Budweiser, and tell my Schlitz drinking friends that Bud was the beer that made Milwaukee jealous…😆

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We did indeed finish up in Chicago and have arrived home after an overnight flight.  We really loved Chicago and would love to have had longer there

We stayed at the Intercontinental which was in a great location, short walk to the start of our Pizza walking tour (through Bobbies Bikes but no bikes involved!) the river boats and our Mobs and Gangster tour.  We packed a lot in during our time over the Memorial Weekend and had a lovely time.  We even managed the fireworks albeit from our hotel window as our exhausted feet had given up. 
 

It’s been a great adventure so glad we did it and preserved through some of the glitches that AQ added 

 

 

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