For summer 2018, a new concept is coming to the St. Lawrence River in Quebec: active cruises onboard what will be the renovated, 66-passenger Jacques-Cartier.
Based in the Quebecois city of Trois-Rivieres, Croisieres M/S Jacques-Cartier is investing $5 million to renovate the Jacques-Cartier, which has been cruising the St. Lawrence River from Kingston, Ontario, to Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, and traveling along the Ottawa, Richelieu and Saguenay rivers for more than 40 years. Its newest incarnation will continue to do so, but with a greater emphasis on active, engaging and wellness-focused experiences.
The company is headed by Michel Harvey, who serves as president of Croisieres M/S Jacques-Cartier and is a fourth-generation ship owner as well as a captain and a marine mechanical-engineering officer. His wife, Maryse Camirand, is also a certified captain.
"A project like this one is much more than a business opportunity; it is a lifestyle choice," the family said in a statement about the renovation. The couple's children, Rachel and Amelie, are also helping bring the project to fruition.
Croisieres M/S Jacques-Cartier is in the process of remodeling the Jacques-Cartier, a 180-foot-long vessel with a nearly 10-foot draft. It is a commercial, Canada-flagged ship that sails rivers as well as coastal seas.
The Jacques-Cartier is being outfitted with an observation area, a health and well-being area, a spa and a sauna. According to the company, the Jacques-Cartier will also feature "modern, comfortable cabins" with a mix of inside- and outside-facing staterooms. Additionally, there will be a storage area onboard for equipment such as kayaks and Zodiacs, which is where the active-cruising concept comes into play.
The idea is to offer active adventures with differing degrees of difficulty, including hiking, kayaking, Zodiac excursions and geocaching (hunting for objects based on their GPS coordinates). Passengers will be encouraged to interact with nature and learn about the local cultures. Meals will be prepared using regional ingredients.
The Jacques-Cartier is being rebuilt as an environmentally friendly expedition ship and will sail several itineraries in the region. Those include a 10-day cruise along the St. Lawrence River that departs from either Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres or Toronto; a five-day cruise out of Quebec City that explores the St. Lawrence Islands and the Saguenay Fjord; and a seven-day, lighthouse-hopping cruise out of Quebec City, among other options. The cruises will sail between May and October.
The company is currently asking passengers to vote on suggested itineraries at its website, www.croisieresactives.ca.
Croisieres M/S Jacques-Cartier said that its prices and itineraries will be finalized by Christmas time.