On July 5, 2014 the cloudless sky and hot summer sun made the perfect setting for a day on Toronto’s waterfront. It was 2 days before my mom’s birthday and I decided to take her on a brunch cruise around Lake Ontario. She was so excited to be back in Toronto (as she lived there when she was a teenager). She reminisced about living on one of Toronto’s islands called Centre Island and taking a water taxi almost daily. The happy memories made this the perfect birthday gift for her!
I had never been on a cruise around Toronto, in fact I hadn’t been a boat like this since I was a child and my grandmother had taken me on a cruise around Gananoque – 1,000 Islands. I was just as excited as my mom, to say the least. At 11:30 am we boarded the Showboat Royal Grace vessel and our adventure began!
We were given table numbers and ours was #2, just perfect for two people! As we stepped into the spacious dining room on the lower level of the ship we noticed that a variety of passengers were on board with us. There were a few families with young children, a few couples and a large group in the middle celebrating one womans 75th birthday! It was really adorable, and hey, they had the same idea for a gift as I did!
The spacious dining room was covered, with windows on all sides and 4 doors to exit, 2 at the front and 2 at the rear. Our adorable server, Laura made it a welcoming experience as she outlined the safety precautions and introduced herself to each table individually. She also explained to us the bar options they had (yes, a birthday brunch does call for a celebratory drink), and she made a suggestion that we try the Captain’s Caesar. We are both huge caesar fans so it wasn’t a tough sell. Laura told us it was made with a spiced vodka, which I didn’t even know existed and she informed us it made the whole drink that much spicier… Deal!
As the ship departed we began our experience with our cruise-inspired beverages and as we gazed admirably out the window, we realized we needed to be outside. So we grabbed our drinks (which were extra hot, but so good by the way!) we moved to the upper level of the Showboat. This level contained a roof but no windows. Instead there was an open concept, with a railing around the perimeter showcasing the beautiful view of Toronto’s skyline! My mom, a photographer was captivated by the view, as were most other members of the cruise. There were tables, chairs and a bar on the second level as well. My mom joked about renting the boat for an after party, clearly she was enjoying it, and didn’t want it to end.
We saw the Toronto Islands and mom chatted to me about the time she had spent there. The waterfront creatures such as swans and playful critters were out and about; as were many tourists and Torontonians. The hustle and bustle of the city became serene and calm on the water. We saw other boats, water taxis and kayakers enjoying this exceptional summer day. We also noticed Porter Airline planes taking off and landing at the Billy Bishop Airport on one of Toronto’s Islands.
After the wind had styled our hair au-natural for us on the upper level we headed back to the dining room for some brunch! At about 12/12:15 the brunch buffet was set up and guests were called to serve themselves. With a wide selection of both cold and hot foods the spread included vegetarian options – which I was personally grateful for as I don’t eat meat. To have a better idea, I might as well list the options.
Cold: garden salad, fresh fruit salad, macaroni salad, one lentil salad and one quinoa raisin salad – which had an absolutely fabulous flavour. It was probably my favourite dish and I certainly loaded my plate to point where it looked like I was getting food for two people..
Hot: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and they were slicing up fresh roast beef.
They also had a basket of muffins and croissants. At the back of the dining room there was a table set up with coffee, tea and hot chocolate!
My mom was very impressed with the fresh roast beef and she made her way back to the buffet for round 2 on that dish, and some more bacon of course.
After our tasty meal, mom glanced at her phone to check the time, and told me she didn’t want it to ever end. We had over an hour left of the cruise, so when Laura came to check on us and noticed we needed new drinks she suggested a long island iced tea. It seemed appropriate, both our drinks should be cruise-inspired.
With our refreshing iced teas we walked out the dining room and stayed on the lower level where the sun shone down on us. We couldn’t get enough of the beautiful Toronto skyline. We laughed and joked together and mom posed as if she were Rose on the Titanic. We finished our drinks on the upper level and as we made our way back to the dining room we noticed that we were getting close to the docks.
The cruise certainly flew by! But it was such a fun experience to share with my mom and she had a blast! We met her boyfriend Roger after the cruise as we walked the boardwalk, and he said we should look into dinner cruises. Mom was excited and definitely on board with that idea! After grabbing a Mariposa flyer we headed for Roger’s car as mom explained the whole cruise to him.
Needless to say, if you’re looking to take a cruise around Toronto, I would highly recommend Mariposa. Not only for brunch, but with their six vessels and multiple cruise options, they’ll surely be able to accommodate for anyones needs!