On an overcast fall day in September, a luxury cruise ship made Detroit its port of call for the day (9/28/22). Yes, you read that right. Not just any cruise ship, but the brand-new Viking Octantis. The Octantis had spent most of the summer in the northern portion of the Great Lakes, going back and forth across Lake Superior and going through the Soo Locks. The ship made this stop in Detroit on its way out of the Great Lakes. This cruise started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with stops at Mackinaw Island (Michigan) and Alpena, Michigan before continuing to Toronto, Ontario. As of 10/7/22, the Octantis is currently on its way to New York City before continuing on to Brazil and Argentina for summer in the southern hemisphere.
Upon arriving in Detroit, the passengers of the Octantis; had several excursions available for the day, including the Henry Ford Museum, the Ford River Rouge factory tour (where Ford makes the F-150 pickup truck) the Detroit Institute of Art, among other options. As a native metro Detroiter, these are all places I have been and are perfect activities for the fall in Detroit. Had the cruise arrived a few days earlier, the passengers could have gone to the 2022 North American International Auto Show at Huntington Place, formerly known as Cobo Hall, in downtown Detroit. The only way to get a more Detroit experience, would be to have a coney dog at Lafayette Coney Island, while sipping on a Faygo pop or Vernors ginger ale. Call me next year, Viking, for helpful tips and tricks.
You may be wondering where on the Detroit River one docks a cruise ship. The Octantis docked at the Nicholson terminal, which is primarily a freighter terminal two and half miles south of downtown Detroit, south of the Ambassador Bridge (the bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario). For long-time Detroiters, you will be happy to see the Boblo Island Detroit dock sign in the background behind the Octantis. The immediate area surrounding the Nicholson terminal would be considered a warehouse district, which is also spot-on Detroit. There is a park nearby that is under construction. If the city of Detroit could figure out how to have cruise ships dock downtown at Hart Plaza, the Riverwalk area, or where Joe Louis Arena once stood, I think it could be beneficial. Again, city of Detroit, call me for these and more helpful ideas.
Another sight the passengers of the Octantis likely saw from the ship was the nearly one-thousand-foot freighter American Century as it steamed past them. On their way out of Detroit, they steamed past the Gordie Howe Bridge under construction. From Detroit, the Octantis would sail south on the Detroit River to Lake Erie and on to Port Colborne, Ontario to the Welland Canal.
The Octantis isn’t the cruise ship on the Great Lakes. The day before, I saw the Le Durmont d’urville as I drove along Lake St. Clair taking my dog to the vet. Some other cruise ships on the Great Lakes are the Pearl Mist, Ocean Voyager, and Ocean Navigator. If Detroit played its cards right, it could host all these cruises, being well situated in the center of the Great Lakes.
Now for a little bit more about the Octantis. The ship is 666 feet long, 79 feet wide and weighs 30,150 gross tons. It was built in 2021 at a cost of $255 million. The Octantis can accommodate 378 guests with a crew of 256. Cruising is a unique way to experience the Great Lakes. I can imagine cruising Lake Huron at night and seeing the stars without urban light pollution interfering. Or if you get extremely lucky you might see the Northern Lights while cruising Lake Superior at night. Residents of Michigan’s upper peninsula often see the Northern Lights. Because these cruises are unique, they do come with a hefty price tag, with an average starting price of about $6000 per person for a week cruise. If I win the lottery or become very wealthy, I will set sail on the Octantis. Check it out!
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