Mini cruise vacation from Toronto Harbour

Mariposa Cruises Northern Spirit boasts a $500,000 interior facelift this season.

By Jane Muller

Going on a cruise can be a local outing when the destination is the Toronto Harbour and the vessel belongs to Mariposa Cruises.

Lunch, dinner and cocktail cruises offer views of the Toronto skyline, Toronto Islands and Billy Bishop airport. In its 31st year of service, the fleet comprises six vessels including the 140-foot Northern Spirit with its recent $500,000 interior renovation. New executive chef, Andrew Capone (formerly of The Drake, Thuet, Harbord Room and JW Marriott), has elevated the culinary offerings aided by an off-season kitchen renovation.

A favourite of celebrities, the Northern Spirit looked to be receiving some special guests as we watched them board while heading up the ramp to our vessel, the 144-foot Captain Matthew Flinders. While I was busy shooting photos of our ship, my husband watched stacks of pizza boxes being delivered to another of Mariposa’s vessels that was accommodating a school trip for a happy group of teens. We were boarding for a brunch cruise on a sunny Sunday afternoon in May after strolling along Toronto’s lakeshore at Harbourfront Centre.

Seated at our assigned table with a view through one of the windows that line each side of the main dining area, we ordered drinks before exploring the above decks. Sipping a Captain’s Caesar (a signature drink that features Chipotle and scotch bonnet infused vodka) on the open upper deck made this two-hour tour feel like a vacation cruise. With music in the background, a warm breeze and lovely views, we had to remind ourselves that brunch awaited and it was time to go back inside.

Patrons are invited to sample at their leisure from the first course that included fresh fruit, a variety of pastries, smoked salmon and trout as well as yogurt and assorted cereal in mini boxes. Table numbers were used to invite diners to the traditional hot brunch buffet served later on, allowing time in between for another visit to the upper decks.

The food is what one expects from a brunch buffet with bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, home fries, roast beef and ham. The servers are efficient and friendly, in fact everyone on the staff seemed to be as happy as we were to be out on the water on such a beautiful pre-summer day.

Mariposa Cruises offer a variety of experiences out of Toronto Harbour in addition to our weekend brunch cruise, including a Sunset Dinner Cruise with dancing, Weekday Lunch Cruise or a Weekday Sip and Sail Cocktail Cruise, daily Harbour Cruise and a Hawaiian Luau Cruise on Thursday, Aug. 30. Private cruises can also be booked for weddings, private parties, meetings and school events.

“These cruises are designed for locals and visitors alike to experience a getaway in the city while taking in a completely different perspective of Toronto’s skyline, waterways and parklands,” states the company’s press release.

Check out the website at www.mariposacruises.com for details.