Haimark’s MS Saint Laurent Ideal For Destination Driven Experiences

by Vanessa Lee

Elana Karpman, Manager Brand Marketing, Cruise Strategies ready to board the MS St. Laurent

The Cliff Rock Bar & Grille

The MS Saint Laurent

The Shearwater Dining Room

The Observation Deck

It’s not often we see a cruise ship docked in Toronto harbour with a great city skyline view on a sunny October day. But last week I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to tour Haimark Line’s MS Saint Laurent, previously the Sea Voyager, which has been plying the Great Lakes, cruising in the Maritimes and along the St Lawrence Seaway this summer.  She will shortly head down the U.S. east coast to spend the winter in warmer climes with Caribbean, Panama Canal, Costa Rica, South and Central America (including the Orinoco River) itineraries along with a few cruises that feature Cuba stops. So it was certainly an opportune time to see this new addition to the Haimark fleet.


L
aunched in  April as the MS Saint Laurent, the vessel has room for about 200 guests but normally, with single accommodations will have about 170 - 180 or so with a crew complement of 80. We were given a tour by the affable Hotel Manager Eckart who has many years of experience on both ocean-going and river cruise ships. 

Haimark is more well known for their fleet of exotic river cruise ships which sail the Mekong or the Irrawaddy as well as the Peruvian Amazon.  So this vessel is a bit of a departure from their norm and has been nicely renovated. At just under 5000 gross tons, she is quite an adorable little ship with a happy crew and even more importantly, happy guests.

Here are the key features and details you need to know about and also in my opinion, the kind of clientele that would suit the ship.  The staterooms are quite nicely appointed and decorated  but not very large in some categories. They have a small bathroom with shower only, beds that can be twins or a queen and a small flat-screen TV with wooden bedside tables, a dresser/armoire and other necessary mod cons. They remind me of a river cruise stateroom in size but are more traditional in feel. The vast majority are outside but none have true balconies although some open on to a non-private deck area and offer outdoor chairs (Deck 4).

The public rooms are decorated in calm, soothing shades of blue and gold. The main Compass Lounge on Deck 2 is the spot for overflow lunch buffets, cocktails, lectures and movie nights as well as the occasional entertainment from a duo. Adjacent to the Lounge is a charming tavern called the Seascape Bar; this has delightful stained glass windows (never seen that on a ship before) 2 large TV’s and tables that can easily accommodate bridge groups for card games.  

There is also an outdoor grill area called the Cliff Rock Bar and Grille which offers  a casual breakfast and lunch buffet weather permitting and a hot rocks focus where guests can grill their own meats and fish at their tables for a seated dinner – with 2 reservation times – 7 and 7.30 pm. Heaters are also in this area for evenings or when the ship is cruising cooler climes. This will be a very popular spot  when the ship is in the tropics. Add to this another lovely outdoor deck area for relaxing and lounging as well as an Observation Deck lounge – great for wildlife spotting – so a small ship with good outdoor deck space which is important on this type of cruise.

The ship also has a small spa, a logo and sundries shop and a really quite lovely dining room called the Shearwater. House wine for lunch and dinner is included and premium wines can be purchased if required.

This is a port intensive, destination driven cruise ship ideal for guests who would also enjoy river cruising and would likely be in their 60’s to 80’s. The crew is mostly European (and appeared to be very engaged and service-oriented). Room service is provided for breakfast only. Every evening there is a cocktail event with some included drinks and nibbles followed by dinner from 7.30 – 9.30. Think river cruising on the ocean concept.

Clearly the ship is a part of the experience but this recently refurbished Haimark vessel is designed to cater to those guests searching for new destinations – the port collectors, those who wish to learn about a range of subjects and those desirous of experiential cruising. Social camaraderie is a big part of the onboard guest experience and many notable lecturers and speaker programmers are included – Dan Rather was a special speaking guest on a cruise this past summer.

I like this brand – they appear to be thoughtful and attentive and caring. All good things and I believe there is a strong market for this kind of ship and cruise experience and equally it would be ideal for groups of various sizes – including full or 1/2 ship charters. 





(will not be published)