Step aboard a 1000 Islands cruise in Kingston today 

By Sofia Tosello

Floating tours of Kingston’s waterfront and the 1000 Islands are welcoming passengers. Embark on one of the 1000 Islands Cruises’ three vessels and explore the famous archipelago. 

Island Belle

1000 Islands Cruises offers a variety of tours along the St. Lawrence River all summer long. The Discovery Cruise on the Island Belle is a one-hour tour along Kingston’s waterfront. A tour guide will walk you through the history of Kingston’s notable landmarks like Fort Henry and Kingston Penitentiary. 

When the sun sets, hop aboard the dinner cruise on the Island Star, offering passengers a delicious set-dinner menu with a side of stunning riverside views. On Saturday evening, board the Island Queen and eat a plated dinner on the second deck as the sun dips below the horizon.   

Island Star

The Heart of the Islands Cruise aboard the Island Queen departs at 10:30 am for its brunch cruise and 12:30 pm for its three-hour sightseeing tour around the 1000 Islands. You can enjoy lunch on the ship as it winds its way through the “Admiralty Group” islands for an additional cost. 

Walking up to Crawford Wharf, you will see a ship reminiscent of a historic New Orleans steamship. Surrounded by regular sailboats docked in front of Kingston’s Shoal Martello tower, this charming vessel stands out.  

A line of passengers, shaded by their sunhats and glasses, stand on the dock, taking photos in front of the ship’s red propeller and ornate white railings. A smiling crew member dressed in a suit and top hat guides you toward the vessel’s plank.  

Boarding the ship, you’re immediately hit with the nostalgic smell of buttery popcorn. The scent emanates from the snack counter serving candies, chips, and beers from local breweries. Grab some popcorn and head upstairs. 

The first floor of the ship serves as a panoramic viewing gallery and an intimate concert venue featuring live music from local Kingston artists like Spencer Evans and his son Oscar. The father-son duo serenade passengers with their jazz-funk repertoire. 

Making your way up to the second floor, you’re met with a fine dining establishment featuring an oak bar and tables draped with white tablecloth and navy-blue napkins. For an additional charge, you can enjoy lunch on board the ship. Standouts from the set lunch menu include the gooey chocolate brownie and soft sponge cake dessert, garnished with a tart berry compote.  

Sunlight floods the steps leading up to the third-floor open observation deck, teasing the experience to come. Once you’re on top of the ship, you’re met with a breathtaking view of both Wolfe Island and Fort Henry. 

When the horn sounds and the ship gently moves away from the dock, Kingston’s historic landmarks turn into an uninterrupted view of the St. Lawrence River. You’ve finally started your journey towards the world-famous archipelago, the 1000 Islands.  

The “Admiralty Group” of islands features several lavish cottages, including one mansion owned by a millionaire who made it big selling tree-shaped air fresheners. With 100 windows overlooking nature’s beauty, the mansion is a highlight of the tour.  

Other notable landmarks include Napoleon’s Hat, a charming cottage that looks exactly as the name suggests, and a 12-bedroom fishing lodge donated to Kingston General Hospital (KGH) in 1911 and subsequently sold to the highest bidder. Try to guess how much the lodge was actioned off for in the early 20th century (hint, it’s lower than you think). 

A knowledgeable tour guide will be sure to point out all the notable attractions, detailing the region’s history and wildlife, including the Great Lakes’ very own freshwater barracuda–the muskie fish. The muskie is a six-foot-long, 80-pound fish with needle-sharp teeth and a temper.  

While you won’t see a muskie up close, you may be able to spot a double-crested cormorant and learn about the birds’ significant impact on the local island ecosystem.  

Want to experience the natural and manmade wonders of the 1000 Islands yourself? Head over to the 1000 Islands Cruises website and choose your tour.