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Let someone else do the navigating while you enjoy a relaxing trip on the calm waters of the St. Lawrence River.ST. LAWRENCE CRUISE LINES

The centre of the St. Lawrence River, part of a vital waterway that links Canada and the United States to the rest of the world, connects the outflow of Lake Ontario, near Kingston, to the Île d’Orléans.

For those who travel it by boat, the natural beauty of the St. Lawrence River is a wondrous backdrop providing deep respite.

“Our passengers dutifully fill out the comment cards after every trip, and the No. 1 attraction for them after their experience is the river itself,” says Daniel Beals, advertising and marketing co-ordinator of St. Lawrence Cruise Lines.

The Canadian Empress is a classic riverboat, with an exterior that harks back to classic steamboats from the Victorian era. Inside, charm meets modern technology, with all the comfort and safety features that travellers expect.

The main St. Lawrence Deck of the ship is comprised of about two dozen different staterooms as well as a corner store. The Ottawa Deck, one level up, has eight staterooms, as well as a grand saloon, dining room, observation deck, and lounge and bar. The Sun Deck up top is where travellers gather on deck chairs or at the lounge to really take in the beauty of the river. The cruise season runs from May 8 to Oct. 16.

Calm water cruising on a river cruise is popular (the cruise line is almost fully booked for 2022) because it is a balm for the spirit.

“Calm water cruising is not like being on the Atlantic Ocean or even on Lake Ontario,” Beals says. “You’re really taking in all the sights and sounds in a very intimate way.”

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The ambience of the Canadian Empress is purposely relaxed. The travel experience is about focusing on the beauty and history of the St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands. This isn’t a party boat. Passengers are typically retired couples and young families travelling together.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines is family-owned and operated, going back to 1981. It runs four-, five-, six-, and seven-night cruises with departures from Kingston, Ottawa and Quebec City. The trips include short tours that shine spotlights on the rich history of the region, offering cruisers a chance to really take in all the small towns and highlights of Eastern Ontario.

“People are leery of travelling on large vessels because those were the ones that really had troubles during the pandemic,” Beals says.

Being a smaller, family-run business, St. Lawrence Cruise Lines was better able to adapt on the fly after COVID-19 hit. The company had a clean bill of health during the pandemic, thanks to its health and safety program, which includes double vaccination requirements, testing before boarding, masking, and a medical grade disinfectant program onboard. The cruise line received the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario Safe Travels Stamp in December 2020, which is a commitment to international standards for handling COVID-19.

St. Lawrence Cruise Lines is continuing the same program in 2022. The only difference is that masking is a recommendation instead of a requirement, although some attractions will still require masking.

Beals has been with the company since 1999, when he started as a deck hand.

“Working for the cruise line all this time I still feel like what we’re offering to people is that sort of romantic feeling they feel when they get out on the water, free from land,” he says. “I felt that from the moment I started working as a deck hand and that’s really kept me in the industry.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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