Steamboating colleagues:
A business 'B-Mail' just arrived with news that smaller to intermediate cruise vessels will be entering service on the Great Lakes expanding the market 13 times what it had been in five years. According to Chris Conlin, owner of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Conlin Travel and subsidiary Great Lakes Cruise Co. Their first charter in 1998/'99 was wth the 420 passenger HAPAG-LLOYD ship COLUMBUS, primarily to the German market with now increasing American passengers with bookings on the 96 passenger GRAND MARINER & NIAGARA PRINCE. 'Travel Dynamics' will introduce the 136 passenger YORKTOWN, formerly the SPIRIT OF YORKTOWN now receiving upgrades in Seattle. Wouldn't we all like to make the long delivery trip to the Great Lakes on her?

The Geat Lakes cruise season limited from May to October with only 75 ft. width to pass through eight locks in the Welland Canal up to the Great Lakes. Such vessels route to the Caribbean/Central America in the winter, work their way back in the spring in a kind of 'tramping' mode similar to steamboats on our rivers. Past passengers are 'veteran' cruises with many voyages. "These passengers are interested in the Great Lakes for the itinerary--not the ships...mostly from the Sun Belt states. Midwesterners take the Great Lakes for granted," according to Conlin. I saw the German COLUMBUS in the past on Lake Michigan and was wowed by her design. Voyages range from eight and eleven day 'Great Lakes Grand Discovery.' Try typing in: Great Lakes Cruise Company : Voyages of Discovery on America's Inland Seas for a look. For news on tours, wholesalers and river cruising, follow Michelle Baran on Twitter@mbtravelweekly. The last may not open for all as it's a to-the-trade link.
I smell healthy competition brewing with the Great Lakes vessels, ACL & GASBC on our rivers. This is going to be interesting and good to check on what 'the other guys are doing.'
Well, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick, Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.