Duluth is Lake Superior cruise port, a major cargo port and city in the USA's Minnesota state (St Louis County), with population around 85,000 (metro around 280,000). The Twin Ports metro area includes Duluth MN and Superior WI. The city is on the lake's northern shore and can be accessed by ocean-going ships from the Atlantic Ocean via GLW-Great Lakes Waterway (system of natural channels and artificial canals) and Saint Lawrence Seaway (system of locks, canals and channels).
Port Duluth is approx 2300 mi (3700 km) to the west from the Atlantic Ocean, making it the world's farthest inland port accessible to oceangoing (cargo and cruise) ships. Duluth is also the largest and busiest Great Lakes port. Annually, Port Duluth handles average 35 million cargo tonnes and ~900 ship calls. Around ~90% of these ships are "lakers" (cargo vessels deployed exclusively on the upper Great Lakes and too big for Welland Canal transits), while the other ~10% are "salties" - capable to traverse the St Laurence Seaway all the way to/from the North Atlantic.
The post-COVID 2022 was the most successful year ever for cruises on the Great Lakes. The season featured ~150,000 cruise ship tourists (+25% over 2019) served by 9x boats. Currently, the largest by capacity Great Lakes cruise companies are Viking Cruises USA (Viking Octantis), AQV-American Queen Voyages (ships Ocean Navigator, Ocean Voyager), Pearl Seas Cruises (Pearl Mist), and the Canadian company St Lawrence Cruise Lines (Canadian Empress). Other travel brands that offer Great Lakes voyages are PONANT and Tauck (fleet).
Due to the increased Great Lakes cruise passenger traffic, in 2022 were opened two new US Customs and Border Protection facilities - in Duluth MI and Cleveland OH, in addition to the existing in Detroit MI and Sault Ste Marie MI.
Twin Ports (Duluth-Superior harbor) are currently ranked the USA's 17th-largest by tonnage. Port Duluth serves mainly the export of coal, iron ore, steel coil, limestone, cement, wood pulp, grain, salt, also wind turbine components. The city's best-known tourist attractions are the Great Lakes Aquarium (2000-opened, all freshwater, houses 205 species), Aerial Lift Bridge (aka Aerial Ferry Bridge, vertical-lift bridge, USA's first ferry bridge, spans Duluth Ship Canal), Canal Park (tourist district) and the adjacent (connected by the Aerial Bridge) Minnesota Point (aka Park Point - the world's longest freshwater sandsplit with length 6 mi /10 km).
The settlement was founded in the early-17th century in the area of several French fur trading outposts established by the North West Company (1779-1821) on the shores of rivers and lakes in Minnesota. In the mid-19th century were constructed artificial channels and locks to allow large ships access to the Great Lakes. A new road linked directly Duluth with the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-Saint Paul). Soon the current-day downtown was formed - by merging several small settlements on both sides of St Louis River.
In the early-20th century was highly increased Port Duluth's shipping traffic (for a short time became the USA's busiest port, surpassing in gross tonnage even Port NYC) and the city developed steel production (Duluth Works, US Steel's Morgan Park). Via Duluth, bulk carriers shipped iron ore through the Great Lakes to be processed in Illinois and Ohio. In that prosperous period were founded Diamond Calk Horseshoe Company (manufacturer of automotive tools), Marshall Wells Hardware Company (wholesaler), Duluth Showcase Company (Duluth Refrigerator Company/Coolerator Company), Universal Atlas Cement Company (using the slag of the steel plants). The industrial boom was based mainly on processing and export of iron ore and the booming in Ohio steel industry. In 1905 was opened the Aerial Bridge (the USA's first transporter bridge) which in 1930 was converted to a vertical lift bridge. During WW2 (1939-45), at the Riverside Shipyard on St Louis River were built tanker ships and submarine chasers.
Duluth's current-day economy is based on tourism, banking, retail shopping, health care (medical services provided to residents of Minnesota-Wisconsin-Michigan), higher education, business services and bulk cargo shipping - transhipment of coal, taconite (iron-bearing sedimentary rock), agricultural products, steel, limestone, cement, as well as wind turbine components (from European and North Dakota manufacturers).
Next table shows the 14-day itinerary from Chicago to Toronto.
|Date / Time||Port|
|03 Oct 23:59||Departing from Chicago, Illinois|
|04 Oct 08:00 - 18:00||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|05 Oct 13:00 - 06 Oct 19:00||Traverse City, Michigan|
|07 Oct 07:00 - 15:00||Mackinac Island, Michigan (anchorage)|
|08 Oct||Lake Superior (Canada)|
|09 Oct 07:00 - 18:00||Duluth, Minnesota|
|10 Oct 09:00 - 20:00||Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada|
|12 Oct 12:30 - 19:00||Killarney, Ontario Canada|
|13 Oct 07:00 - 19:00||Parry Sound, Ontario Canada|
|14 Oct 07:00 - 14:00||Tobermory, Ontario Canada|
|15 Oct 08:00 - 19:00||Windsor, Ontario Canada|
|16 Oct||Lake Erie (Canada)|
|17 Oct 08:00||Arriving in Toronto, Ontario Canada|
In mid-January 2021, Viking Cruises (via the Viking Expeditions brand) announced that its newest ship - Viking Octantis, will be homeported in Thunder Bay ON in 2022, for a total of 7 voyages to Milwaukee WI. After disembarking, passengers return to Milwaukee by air, and the cruise ship embarks another group of travelers (flown to Thunder Bay) for the return voyage (via Duluth MN) to Milwaukee. The boat was scheduled to stay in homeport overnight (for around 48 hours) on each call.
The 378-passenger Viking Octantis is currently the largest cruise ship ever deployed in the Great Lakes region. The first 8-day "Great Lakes Explorer" cruise (itinerary from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay) was scheduled to leave on May 21, 2022. Prices started at USD 8395 per person (with double occupancy) including airfare. The return 8-day cruise itinerary (from Thunder Bay to Milwaukee) was themed "Undiscovered Great Lakes". Both Viking cruises feature passing through Soo Locks at Sault Ste Marie (Lake Superior - Lake Huron).
Port Duluth MN cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Duluth MN, Minnesota USA. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
|22 July, 2023|
- Cruise Industry
A Viking Ocean's cruise ship will be the first to arrive and use the brand new customs facility at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center today...May 30, 2022
- Cruise Industry
Viking Cruises announced the line's summer 2023 season of expedition voyages, including a new 2-week itinerary in the Great Lakes along with...November 6, 2021
- Cruise Industry
For the first time, Thunder Bay ON will become a homeport/turnaround port for a Great Lakes cruise vessel starting in 2022. Viking Cruises announced...January 16, 2021
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