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21866
Ontario/Michigan/Illinois

Voyage to All Five Great Lakes: A Small Ship Adventure

Explore the pristine beauty of all five Great Lakes aboard a small ship, delving deep into the region’s heritage, history and natural wonders.
Rating (4.9)
Program No. 21866RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
7,299
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE
Ontario/Michigan/Illinois

Voyage to All Five Great Lakes: A Small Ship Adventure

Explore the pristine beauty of all five Great Lakes aboard a small ship, delving deep into the region’s heritage, history and natural wonders.
Length
11 days
Starts at
7,299
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE
Program No. 21866 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & PRICES

Ship Outside
Accommodation Details

A cabin with a window or porthole to view the outside.

May 20 - May 30, 2022
Ship Outside 7,299
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jun 16 - Jun 26, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jun 25 - Jul 5, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jul 13 - Jul 23, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jul 31 - Aug 10, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Aug 7 - Aug 17, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Aug 18 - Aug 28, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Sep 5 - Sep 15, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Sep 14 - Sep 24, 2022
Ship Outside 7,499
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

DATES & PRICES

Ship Outside
Accommodation Details

A cabin with a window or porthole to view the outside.

May 20 - May 30, 2022
Ship Outside 8,899
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jun 16 - Jun 26, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jun 25 - Jul 5, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jul 13 - Jul 23, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Jul 31 - Aug 10, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Aug 7 - Aug 17, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Aug 18 - Aug 28, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Sep 5 - Sep 15, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

Sep 14 - Sep 24, 2022
Ship Outside 9,099
Special Offer

Enroll by August 31, 2021 for free air from many cities!

At a Glance

Nearly 15,000 years ago, the last of the great glaciers retreated, leaving us the Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. These vast bodies of water contain more than one-fifth of the planet’s fresh surface water. On a small ship, voyage to all five Great Lakes, discovering pristine natural beauty and learning the colorful stories of the people who’ve sailed and worked these waterways.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking and standing for up to an hour at a time during field trips. Embarking and disembarking from the boat up and down steep gangways.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Sail all five Great Lakes and storied waterways like the Soo Locks and Welland Canal.
  • Discover Mackinac Island, a Victorian-era haven where cars are forbidden and horse-drawn carriages rule the roads.
  • Experience Niagara Falls up-close aboard the Hornblower.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Michele Sigmon
Michele “Micki” Sigmon began her career in education, teaching outdoor education and recreation for 12 years. When an opportunity to work as a travel director fell into her lap, she knew she had found her calling. Micki has been working in the travel industry for about 20 years. She has owned her own travel company, worked on domestic river cruises and steamboats and led groups throughout Chicago and the Great Lakes region. Micki looks forward to sharing her knowledge and love of learning.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Michele Sigmon
Michele Sigmon View biography
Michele “Micki” Sigmon began her career in education, teaching outdoor education and recreation for 12 years. When an opportunity to work as a travel director fell into her lap, she knew she had found her calling. Micki has been working in the travel industry for about 20 years. She has owned her own travel company, worked on domestic river cruises and steamboats and led groups throughout Chicago and the Great Lakes region. Micki looks forward to sharing her knowledge and love of learning.
Profile Image of Roger Dammarell
Roger Dammarell View biography
Roger Dammarell is an enthusiastic, knowledgeable fellow who spent 33 years in the radio business — he achieved his goal of working in San Francisco, the country’s fourth-largest radio market — before leaving the crowded freeways behind and falling in love with his new home in Corvallis, Ore. He has since developed an affinity for the world of educational travel and is a favorite Road Scholar Group Leader.
Profile Image of Laurieanne Wysocki
Laurieanne Wysocki View biography
Laurieanne Wysocki received a Certificat Pratique de Langue Francais in Angers, France and graduated with a B.A. in French from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1985. She began working as a group leader for Road Scholar in 2000, predominantly on Adventures Afloat. When not facilitating Road Scholar programs and otherwise journeying abroad, Laurieanne pursues vocations in writing and art while living on a lake in western Massachusetts where she also enjoys swimming, hiking, and gardening. Her adventure stories have been published by GoNomad.
Profile Image of Debra Levin
Debra Levin View biography
Debra Levin graduated with honors from Penn State University and went on to work in the family jewelry business before becoming a teacher and then transitioning into travel operations. She has led groups of travelers around the world for over 20 years. Debra now lives in Boston and travels seasonally. She enjoys music, theater, art and ballet and volunteers with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of Fine Arts, WGBH public broadcasting and the Brookline Senior Center. Debra has two daughters and four grandchildren.
Profile Image of Gayle Felix
Gayle Felix View biography
Gayle Felix has loved group leading for Road Scholar since she began in 2015. With a history degree from Boston University, Gayle enjoys sharing Boston's history as well as discovering new places. Gayle leads a variety of programs in New England and Washington D.C. including On the Road adventures in Cape Cod and Maine, signature city programs in Boston and Washington D.C. and programs focusing on politics and music. During her free time, Gayle spends time with her family and friends biking, kayaking and traveling.
Profile Image of Beverley Citron
Beverley Citron View biography
Beverley Citron was born and raised in Bournemouth, England with a desire for adventure and thirst for new experiences. Beverley has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and South America while working aboard cruise ships as a member of entertainment staff. She regularly led excursions into the ports to enjoy scenery, history, art and music. After leaving the cruise lines, she continued in tourism as a Group Leader in and around South Florida, with the opportunity to work for Road Scholar being a perfect fit.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Living Great Lakes
by Jerry Dennis
Jerry Dennis, known for his writing on fly-fishing and canoeing, interweaves observation, anecdote and history in this tale of the lakes and his month-long voyage aboard the schooner Malabar.
The Long Ships Passing, The Story of the Great Lakes
by Walter Havighurst
A vivid popular history of the Great Lakes, rich in anecdote, incident and drama. Havighurst recounts the early days of ships and shipping on the Great Lakes from the time of the early French voyageurs through the industrialization of the region at the turn of the century.
Great Lakes Birds
by Raymond Leung (Illustrator), James Kavanaugh
This fold-out reference illustrates almost 150 species in the Great Lakes region. Laminated and pocket-sized, it's a handy item to take along in the field.
The Devil in the White City, Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
by Erik Larson
This fascinating account of Chicago's 1893 World's Fair interweaves the true stories of Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor, who terrorized its visitors.
The Great Lakes
by Wayne Grady
Wayne Grady showcases the nature and ecology of the Great Lakes, hub of industry and agriculture and home to 40 million people, in this illustrated portrait of the region, including its geological formation, conservation challenges, forests and resources. With hundreds of color photographs and illustrations by Emily Damstra.
Unless
by Carol Shields
A middle aged mother of three daughters lives a contented life as a writer until her oldest child Norah quits college to panhandle on the streets of Toronto. Norah's only communication with the outside world appears to be a sign she wears around her neck that reads "Goodness."
The Middle Ground, Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815
by Richard White
White takes in the history of Daniel Boone, George Washington, Pontiac and Tecumseh in this scholarly history of relations between native peoples and Europeans in "pays d'en haut," the region around the Great Lakes.
Mackinac Island
by Terry Phipps
Phipps captures the splendor of the architecture and gardens of Mackinac in this collection of photographs.
Great Lakes Water Wars
by Peter Annin
Annin weaves an intriguing tale of behind the scenes compromise and conflict among the states and provinces making a grab for a portion of the water in the Great Lakes.
The Song of Hiawatha
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This Everyman’s Library Classic of Longfellow’s epic narrative poem, set along the south shore of Lake Superior and loosely based on the legends of the Ojibwe and other Native Americans, includes an introduction and the latest scholarship on the classic
Shining Big Sea Water, The Story of Lake Superior
by Norman K. Risjord
A swift, illuminating history of Lake Superior, from its geological birth and native inhabitants to early explorers and industries, developers, cities and future challenges.
Niagara, A History of the Falls
by Pierre Berton
Meticulously researched and entertaining, this history of Niagara Falls captures the sideshow atmosphere of the place with its honky-tonk attractions and daredevil feats. An engrossing social history.
Great Lakes for Sale, From Whitecaps to Bottlecaps
by Dave Dempsey
Dempsey calls for action to stop the diversion of water from the great lakes watershed.
North American Indian Tribes of the Great Lakes
by Michael G. Johnson
Heavily illustrated, this handy primer presents the Native American tribes of the upper Midwest, their cultures, religions, leaders and roles in the colonial wars and the fur trade.
Great Lakes Wildlife
by Raymond Leung (Illustrator), James Kavanaugh
This laminated fold-out card illustrates almost 150 animals in the Great Lakes region.
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes
by Dan Egan
Egan explores the past, present, and future of the Great Lakes and their ecologies using insightful research and political commentary.
Inventing Niagara
by Ginger Strand
A witty, well-researched tale of the transformation of a natural wonder into an engineering feat, spectacle and monument.
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
by Frederick Stonehouse
Stonehouse presents the circumstances and evidence for the loss of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, which disappeared during a heavy snow storm on Lake Superior in the early evening of November 10, 1975. With no evidence and no witnesses, the captain and crew of 28 are still listed as missing.
Pandora's Locks, The Opening of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway
by Jeff Alexander
This detailed history of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which opened in 1959, focuses on the engineering feat's often devastating environmental effects.
Detroit City is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis
by Mark Binelli
Mark Binelli explores key events in Detroit's history along with his own experiences growing up in and reading about the Motor City throughout his youth. Key perspectives include how Detroit has been portrayed in Hollywood, the cataclysmic effect of the race riots in 1967, and the social unrest that has led to physical deterioration.
Selected Stories
by Alice Munro
This collection of 28 short stories represents some of Munro's finest work. A powerful range of emotional, evocative tales set throughout the cities and rural towns of her native country.
Shipwrecks and Lost Treasure Great Lakes, Legends and Lore, Pirates and More!
by Michael J. Varhola
Frederick Stonehouse provides the historical forward to these 21 riveting tales of ships that met their end in the treacherous waters of the Great Lakes, including the sinking of Civil War steamer Island Queen in 1864 and the tanker Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975.
Lake Superior Flavors, A Field Guide to Food and Drink Along the Circle Tour
by James Norton
In this review of Lake Superior cuisine, the authors focus on local artisans and important dishes from the four regions they visit: Minnesota’s North Shore, Ontario, Michigan and Wisconsin.
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11 days
10 nights
29 meals
10 B 9 L 10 D
DAY
1
Arrive Toronto, Check-In, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Toronto
D
Sheraton Centre Toronto

Activity note: In the final information packet sent from Road Scholar, please be sure to review the details about the airport shuttles organized by Road Scholar. Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. If you arrive early, you may leave your luggage with the group leaders and go out to explore the surrounding area; maps will be available.

Afternoon: Program Registration: Come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to get your room assignment and receive any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. All passengers on this chartered vessel will be Road Scholar participants. We will subdivide into smaller groups for ease of movement and to enhance interaction. “Free Time” and “At Leisure” indicate when you can choose to do what you like and make your experience as meaningful, rewarding, and memorable as possible according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Aboard ship, enjoy a variety of dining options in the main dining room or one of the smaller dining venues. For each meal, the dining room offers a plated, 3-course meal featuring locally inspired cuisine. The grille offers a buffet for breakfast and lunch with rotating daily specials. Beverages available at all meals include juices, soft drinks, coffee, tea, water, beer, wine. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Explore Toronto, Embark Victory 1
Toronto
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. All routes, field trips, and excursions are subject to change as weather and lake conditions may affect the itinerary. Lake conditions could affect the progress of the ship, making it run late and sometimes miss ports because it is not safe to dock. Because of this, the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. The operators reserve the right to change the content of field trips and excursions without prior notice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll set out with a local expert on a field trip via motorcoach to see and learn about significant areas of Toronto such as the Financial District, St. Lawrence Market, Old and New City Hall, Chinatown, Harbor Front, and Queen’s Park.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: This afternoon we’ll have an expert-led exploration of the Royal Ontario Museum. It is among the world's leading museums of natural history and world cultures.Following our field trip, we’ll transfer via motorcoach to the pier for embarkation that takes place from 3:30-5:00 p.m. After completing embarkation procedures and boarding the Victory I, settle in to your cabin and take some time to freshen up before we participate in the ship’s required safety drill. We’ll then gather with our group for cocktails and hor d'oeuvres as we prepare to set out on our Great Lakes learning adventure.

Dinner: In the main dining room, enjoy a 3-course plated and served meal featuring local cuisine plus juices, soft drinks, coffee, tea, water, beer, and wine.

Evening: At leisure. Leisure time aboard ship offers an opportunity to create the kind of experience that is most personally meaningful and memorable. You might also enjoy spending time and making new friends with your fellow Road Scholars. Each evening, a copy of the ship’s daily schedule for the following day will be delivered to your cabin.

DAY
3
Port Colborne, Niagara Falls Cruise
Port Colbourne
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking approximately 1 mile; generally even sidewalks and pathways. Getting on/off a large catamaran; incline when exiting boat cruise. Timing of cruise dependent on when ship transits Welland Canal locks.

Breakfast: Aboard ship, enjoy a plated or buffet breakfast in the main dining room

Morning: After a leisurely morning onboard, we'll disembark at Port Colborne on the Eastern end of the Welland Canal. When the original section of the Welland Canal opened in 1829, it was a boon to both navigation and the local water supply. The section at Port Colborne that opened in 1932 extended the canal’s value and benefits with eight additional locks. Ships wait in line to transit the locks, providing an opportunity for us to set out on a field trip driving through the scenic Niagara Wine Region to Niagara Falls. There, we’ll board a state-of-the-art, 700-passenger catamaran for an unparalleled, close-up experience, entering as close as safely possible to world-famous Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our field trip before returning to the ship and reboarding.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Cleveland-OH, Ride with Cleveland's "Goodwill Ambassadors"
Cleveland
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; walking approximately 1 mile, generally on sidewalks and pathways; standing up to 45 minutes at a time, climbing one flight of stairs on the ship (during port excursion).

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Disembark the ship and board trolleys to explore Cleveland. Local expert will provide in-depth historical and colorful commentary on more than 100 points of interest in Cleveland. At least one stop will be made at either the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Tiffany designed Wade Chapel at Lakeview Cemetery, or at West Side Market.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free Time. This afternoon has been left open to explore local attractions at your leisure, or relax on board the ship. A short walk from the ship is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, admission included.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Detroit-MI, Henry Ford Museum
Detroit, MI
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking according to personal interest at Museum.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Moving from Lake Erie to Lake Huron, we’ll dock at Detroit, MI, then board a motorcoach and ride to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, just outside Detroit. The vast museum is designed to document not only the achievements of Henry Ford himself but “the genius of the American people.” It also contains historic artifacts such as the upholstered rocking chair in which President Abraham Lincoln was seated at Ford’s Theater when he was shot on April 14, 1865; the bus Rosa Parks was riding on December 1, 1955, when her arrest for violating the segregation laws of Montgomery, Alabama, sparked the Civil Rights movement; and the Presidential limousine that bore President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Lunch: Vouchers will be provided for lunch at the museum.

Afternoon: Explore Greenfield Village, an outdoor living history museum at the Henry Ford complex. At the village, enjoy a self-guided narrated train tour, Thomas Edison's Laboratory and the Wright Brothers Bike shop.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Cruising Day on Lake Huron
At sea
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Free Time. Enjoy the ship’s amenities, spend time with your fellow Road Scholars, or just relax as we sail on.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for a lecture related to the program theme.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Georgian Bay, Manitoulin Island, Little Current
Little Current, Ontario
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Activity note: Small boats may be used to access the port. Getting on/off a motorcoach; 1/2 hour each way.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Passing through the rugged beauty of Georgian Bay — sometimes called the sixth Great Lake — we’ll reach Manitoulin Island, the world largest freshwater island and home of the Ojibwe people, part of the First Nation of Anishinaabe. Coming ashore at Little Current, we'll board a motorcoach with a local expert and learn about the area's rich native and nautical history. At Immaculate Conception Church, we'll learn how the beliefs and customs of the Ojibwe intertwine with those of the Catholic Church. Then we'll have the opportunity to attend a traditional “smudging” ceremony and pow-wow demonstration.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Free Time. Enjoy the ship’s amenities or just relax as we head towards Sault Ste. Marie.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Sault Ste. Marie-MI, Soo Locks
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Today, we'll transit the Soo Locks from Lake Huron to Lake Superior at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Before the first lock was built, boats and cargo had to be portaged around rapids that fell 21 feet. The first primitive lock, built in 1797, was destroyed during the War of 1812. The four present locks were built in 1855. Control passed to the U.S. government in the late 1800s and the locks are operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. We’ll learn about their history, their use, and why they are regarded as “a wonder of engineering and human ingenuity” passing an average of 10,000 ships a year.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Founded in 1668, Sault Ste. Marie is the oldest city in Michigan and one of the oldest in the country. So that we don't overwhelm any particular site on our field trip, we'll divide into small groups. At the end of the day, we’ll regroup and share our impressions and experiences.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Mackinac Island, Fort Mackinac, Grand Hotel
Mackinac Island, MI
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Activity note: Getting on/off horse-drawn carriages. Travel on the island is only by carriage or walking; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: The Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Other than walking, the only mode of transportation allowed on the island is horse-drawn carriage, and we’ll go for a ride around the island. We'll also visit Fort Mackinac. Originally a French outpost, it was subsequently taken by the British and massively reconstructed during the American Revolutionary War, relinquished to the U.S. in 1780, retaken by the British at the beginning of the War of 1812, and eventually re-retaken by American forces. We’ll then visit the Grand Hotel, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most romantic vestiges of the Victorian era. It opened in 1887 as a summer retreat for vacationers and boasts the longest porch in the world. The 1980 movie “Somewhere in Time” is a virtual love letter to the grandest remaining hotel of a bygone era.

Lunch: At the Grand Hotel, we’ll enjoy the famed buffet lunch in the main dining room that features fresh salads, a variety of cheeses, slow-roasted meats, seafood, fruits, and fresh-baked pastries.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most on Mackinac Island. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Cruising Day on Lake Michigan
At sea
B,L,D
American Steamboat Company's Victory I

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Locals refer to Lake Michigan as America’s “third coast” for its size—fifth largest lake in the world—and the fact that it is the only one of the Great Lakes lying entirely within the U.S. Without a doubt, it is one of the most scenic places in the country. We’ll learn more during an expert presentation.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for a presentation on topics related to the program theme.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for disembarkation in Chicago tomorrow.

DAY
11
Disembark, Program Concludes
Chicago, Illinois
B

Activity note: Getting on/off a motor coach

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for flights returning home. Participants who booked flights through Road Scholar will be provided a motorcoach transfer from the ship to Chicago O'Hare International Airport upon disembarkation.






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